Rockstar Games practically invented a new subgenre with Grand Theft Auto III, a crime drama that adopted a free-roaming "sandbox" approach to its gameplay.
Steven Ulakovich: "No other game defined a generation, and no other game was so head and shoulders above the field at the time than Grand Theft Auto III. In a day and age where every major title seems to have an element of sandbox gameplay to it, what Rockstar did with Grand Theft Auto III started the trend. Putting the player in an environment that they can roam where they want, and do whatever they want was such a shift from how games were presented."
David Wipperfurth: "GTA3 isn't my favorite game of all time. I've never been addicted to it, or even sunk massive amounts of time into it. However, when I think about what games could deserve a 'Game Of The Decade' title.
"I believe it should go to a game that did the most to further gaming as a whole. It should go to a game that's not only innovative, but popular enough for that innovation to really take hold of the market.
"GTA3 was a major trend setter. Not only did it spark a new genre of games, it opened-up peoples minds to a rarely viewed perspective in video games, that of 'un-directed play', AND popularized many industry standard game mechanics.
"Other individual games may have done some of these things first, but GTA3 had the draw to emboss them into the edifice of gaming culture."
Joe McGinn, Radical: "GTA3 broke new ground in so many ways, it really marks the start of a new era in gaming.
"Among its innovations and accomplishments: - Successful transition of a franchise from 2D to 3D - First successful use of streaming from DVD to create a vast yet detailed game world - Created what we now know as the "sandbox open world" game genre - Before GTA3 using licensed music in games was uncommon, they proved it could be a profitable investment - Was the first must-have PS2 game, no gamer could go without experiencing GTA3, a "killer app" in other words."
Chad Nimmo: "It changed the way we looked at games: non-linear storylines, sandbox worlds, achievement systems. It also spawned 3 more of the top selling games of the decade with Vice City, San Andreas, and Grand Theft Auto IV."
Anonymous: "Not only was it a fantastic game in its own right, it cast a massive shadow over the rest of the industry, and, for that matter, pop culture. Not many games inspire comedy sketches and television commercials."
Timothy Toledo, Activision: "The game was revolutionary with its sandbox gameplay and its missions. It also changed the typical narrative of the game from being a typical good guy to an anti-hero mobster. While other games have done the anti-hero game, GTA3 actually got it right. In addition to this the story, dialogue and VO work was top notch. The game also created a new genre of video game that I feel didn't exist until GTA3 was released."
Marc Andre Caron: "How many clones did it spawn? How many games have embraced the open world concept in large part in response to the need GTA had awakened among its players. How important has exploration gameplay become in large parts due to GTA?
"If one title in the series has to be picked, I'll say GTA3. At the time it came out, it was revolutionary. The others in the series have simply tweaked the recipe that was set by this one."
Ian Christy, Next Level Games: "During the year I took off from games to get some additional schooling, and having been a fan of the top down GTA on PC, I picked up a PS2 and GTA 3, and 200 plus hours later I'd transitioned from a PC LAN snob to an open world gaming and console game play aficionado.
"GTA 3 allowed me to explore, make up my own agendas and mini-games, leverage dynamic and emergent systems, compete with couch surfing party pals, and helped fuel the curiosity and passion that lead to my work on titles like Scarface: The World is Yours, a... title where we really tried to fix or go beyond what problems and limitations we'd found as players in the GTA titles.
"As an adoption title, GTA 3 delivered me into a plethora of brilliant titles, and while PC may remain my first love for gaming, open world exploration and emergent mechanics remain my first loves for design and experience. For the record, I believe I spent more time playing and exploring Vice City than 3, and subsequently as much time inside Dead Rising (my 360 adoption title), Fallout 3, and mastering L4D 1 & 2.
"Sure, I enjoy presentation heavy roller coaster ride experiences like Call of Duty, and I've lapped most of the Ratchet & Clank games several times for the humor and ludicrous wanton destruction, but the epic potential of self-directed user experience wins for me every time, and GTA 3 really opened that door for me through technical and narrative innovation."