Video games are an important part of today’s culture. The industry is huge and gaining popularity year by year. Though there are a lot of great titles out there, some of the best belong to a franchise. A large reason behind this is because a good chunk of franchises have been around since video games really started to take off in the mid 90’s and have been perfecting their craft and lore each subsequent year. So here are the top 10 video game franchises, and don’t be hating on them because of their old roots. The simple fact that they have been able to stick around for so long is proof enough that they have achieved a large fanbase and respect from the gaming community.
10. Gran Turismo
- Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Developer: Polyphony Digital
- Series: 1997-2017
You cannot have a list of top video game franchises that does not include a racing game. Racing games have been part of the makeup of arcades for years. Children and adults alike can appreciate the grand feeling of getting behind a high-powered vehicle of incomparable speed. One of the best in terms of feel and graphics is Gran Turismo. This franchise has pushed the processing power of each engine it’s been on to create an incredible experience. At the visual level, Gran Turismo brings you directly into the world, immersing you into every moment that occurs behind the wheel.
9. Street Fighter
- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: Capcom
- Series: 1987-2017
Fighting games might not be for everyone, but you cannot deny the enduring legacy of the Street Fighter franchise. Ryu and Chun-Li are practically world celebrities, and chances are you even have a childhood memory of going into an arcade, walking up to a Street Fighter game, and then mashing the controls with your entire hand as you try to defeat your friend. Street Figther’s ability to provide such moments has played a large part to its longevity.
Another main reason it has stayed around for so long is that it is one of the best fighting games out there and the competitive nature that surrounds the game is intense. People spend hours perfecting their combos and syncing the frame rate in order to take down competitors from around the world. Getting into the competitive league of this game is practically a 9-5 job.
8. Resident Evil
- Publisher: Capcom
- Developers: Capcom
- Series: 1996-2017
Resident Evil first came to us in 1996 and has since been a defining factor for the horror survival genre. For many people, it was their first experience taking on hordes of 3D undead and feeling that thrill of decimating them all. While taking down the undead is always fun, the game excelled beyond other games of the same genre with its inventive use of inventory and its exploration.
It also cannot be denied that the franchise did not really take off until Resident Evil 4. This is the entry of the series that people became addicted to. Playing as Leon was simply too much fun, especially with his awesome kick. Since then, the game has had its ups and downs, but has come out strong in the year of 2017 with a game that really brings
- Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
- Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
- Series: 1994 – 2016
The initial Warcraft came out in 1994 and was titled Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. Then we got the addition of elves and the undead and things got really interesting by Warcraft 3. This game tossed us into the role of a prince whose desire to save his kingdom turned him into its ultimate threat. From there, we got World of Warcraft and gaming was changed forever.
The Warcraft franchise is one of the most powerful and memorable in gaming. It brought us the orc tongue with phrases like Lok-Tar! (Victory!), an amazing fantasy world, and great gameplay. With the advent of WoW, the online community found a singular space to converge and the Warcraft world flourished. People joined clans, participated in traded, raided, and made real friendships. It essentially redefined what an online community could be and just how expansive an MMORPG could be.
6. Grand Theft Auto
- Publisher: Rockstar Games
- Developers: Rockstar North, Rockstar Canada, Digital Eclipse, Rockstar Leeds
- Series: 1997-2013
The Grand Theft Auto franchise is one that cannot be ignored. The original video game debuted in 1997, and has since been every child’s gateway into violence…Not really. Though there are definitely some parents who get concerned when they see their child bashing a motorist into the ground in order to steal a vehicle. However, there is a M Rating for a reason and parents should be more aware of what that entails.
Nonetheless, each entry in the Grand Theft Auto franchise has provided gamers with a massive city that will let you get away with practically anything that you can imagine. The story line of each game isn’t half bad to begin with as you explore a dark underbelly of a place, but the freedom to roam the city and cause havoc is the true joy. Finding a way to unlock a helicopter and shoot missiles at the police is priceless. With GTA V we also get the added benefit of having an online multiplayer mode, which gives us the chance to wreak mayhem in other people’s cities as well as form online gang communities.
5. Megami Tensei
- Publisher: Atlus
- Developer: Atlus
- Series: 1987-2016
The Megami Tensei series is simply one of the best JRPGs out there. It is also one of the most under-appreciated JRPGs out there. Or at least the Shin Megami Tensei main series is very under-appreciated compared to its much more popular spinoff series, Persona.
What makes this video game franchise so epic is a combination of several factors. To begin, each game features essentially a demon compendium that allows you to summon creatures that are based off of different mythologies from all over the world. Each game also incorporates a difficult battle system that requires quite a bit of planning. Admittedly, in this regard, Persona is one of the easier to playthrough while games like SMT IV or Devil Summoner are a bit more difficult. Finally, every entry truly has a unique story that incorporates heavy philosophical ideologies and an interesting cast of characters.
4. Final Fantasy
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Developer: Square Enix
- Series: 1987-2016
Chocobos, Moogles, Cactuar, oh my! The Final Fantasy franchise has brought gamers through countless worlds that test the imagination, with characters that are exciting and diverse. It’s been around since 1987, and though it did go through a slight rough period, it’s finally put all the pieces back together and gave us Finally Fantasy XV in 2016. This game has it all. Its massive world and countless points of nostalgia set us off into what can be expected in the next additions of the Final Fantasy franchise.
Final Fantasy has played one of the most monumental roles in bringing JRPGs to the West. That being said, it cannot be denied that the franchise really found its home internationally with the release of Final Fantasy VII. Cloud and Sephiroth have become legends and are referenced or paid homage to through various media.
3. Legend of Zelda
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Nintendo, Capcom, Vanpool, Grezzo
- Series: 1986-2017
The Legend of Zelda is one of the longest running series out there. It began in 1986 thanks to the artistic vision of Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka. Since then The Legend of Zelda franchise has become one of top flagships of Nintendo, with both Link and Zelda being incredibly famous.
Between the massive open worlds, unique map puzzles, and strong story it is not hard to see why The Legend of Zelda has stayed around for so long. Each iteration of the game introduces something new that grabs fans and pulls them in. From the open world of Ocarina to the masks in Majora to baton whirling in Wind Waker to the huge options of freedom in Breath of Wild; Nintendo keeps the passion alive for this franchise. This cannot be denied at all with how much critical and community love that Breath of Wild has been getting since its debut this year.
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Nintendo
- Series: 1981-2017
Funny enough Mario’s debut was in a game titled Donkey Kong. However, since that early beginning he has become a world force with countless games featuring Donkey Kong that are now under Mario’s name. From Mario Kart to Mario Party to the mainstay of Mario RPGs, Mario struts his stuff and shows why he is one of Nintendo’s top stars.
Now, let’s get back to the roots, because it was in the 80s and 90s that Mario became iconic. First there was the simple and addictive nature of the Super Mario Bros. platformer game that captured the hearts of gamers on the early Gameboy in 1985. A little over a decade later, in 1996, Super Mario 64 put Mario’s face on the world stage. This game was one of the most innovative worlds brought to the N64 and is considered one of the best games ever made by many. Since then, anything Mario related has gotten a lot of love.
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developers: Ambrella, Bandai Namco Entertainment, Chunsoft, Creatures Inc., Game Freak, Genius Sonority, HAL Laboratory, Hudson Soft, Intelligent Systems, Niantic Labs, Nintendo, Tecmo Koei
- Series: 1996-2016
Are you surprised that Pokemon grabbed the top spot on this list? Since 1996, Pokemon has been a cemented aspect of life for most children. This franchise gave us the ability to traverse a world, collect monsters, and become the best. All at age 10!
Though such game concepts were not completely new, Pokemon provided an extremely kid friendly and accessible world. It also had some of the coolest monster designs and immediately won the hearts of practically everyone. Now the franchise has just celebrated its 20th anniversary and is as big as ever. It captures the heart of today’s children and still brings joy to the adults who started playing it when they were only kids.
These franchises have had a lot of time to perfect their style and it will be exciting to see where developers will take them for future generations. However, the main point of this conclusion is to give an honorable mention to Kingdom Hearts. The Kingdom Hearts franchise is a slight bit messy with a lot of games on a lot of different platforms, but the series did something few believed possible. It successfully integrated Disney with Square. That’s a feat that will never be forgotten and is the reason why so many people cannot wait for KH3 to finally make its debut.