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Gamasutra's Top 12 Games of the Decade

December 30, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 7 of 8 Next

2. Deus Ex (PC, 2000)

Ion Storm's Deus Ex featured intense action, a branching storyline, and deep character customization options. However, its fans will tell you that Deus Ex's biggest strength is the freedom it provides in allowing players to approach each of the game's objectives in numerous different ways.

Boris Bauer, Replay Studios: "I'm a fan of exploring, (action) adventure, and shooter games. I also like some of the major RPG games. Deus Ex successfully combined shooter action, stealth game play, storytelling, exploration, and common 'RPG' elements (skill/item systems, character development) in a believable futuristic game world.

"The most outstanding qualities are the games's atmosphere (game world, sound, and music) and a long series of interesting player choices throughout the whole game. The design of Deus Ex pushed the boundaries of lots of genres inspiring and influencing a lot of todays action adventure/stealth action and RPG games."

Kain Shin, Arkane Studios: "The setting was fresh, and it took the school of Looking Glass's FPS/RPG hybrid genre to a new level by engaging the user in meaningful emotional interactions, allowing the player to express themselves as they choose in a way that had never been combined before.

"It is a collaborative work of art that invites the user's real-time actions to paint a representation of themself in that particular setting without being strong-armed into an explicit identity from another person's moral compass."

Bart Stewart: "The greatness of a computer game is measured by the degree to which a wide variety of gamers have positive memories of it long after playing it. On that basis, Deus Ex is the greatest game of the 2000s... at least. Other games in the decade of the 2000s had more action. A few may have been more intelligent or more emotionally satisfying. But no other game succeeded so well in combining all three of these modes of human expression to create a single coherent gaming experience for the hands and the head and the heart.

"The active gameplay features of Deus Ex allowed a wide range of interesting choices on both the personal and tactical levels. Player were given distinctive choices for how to enhance the character's personal abilities as well as his gear, and these choices directly supported solving tactical challenges through multiple styles of play.

"But the timing of the choices offered was so well-balanced that players never felt over- or under-powered. Complementing the gameplay rules was a storyline that has real meaning beyond the simple mindless destruction of most computer games: what are the implications for human liberty when technology connects all individuals and defines what they believe to be true?

"This remarkable story, and the deep dialogue and gameplay options that expressed and reinforced it without telling the player what to think or feel, remains superior to anything I have ever seen in any other computer game. In summary, while there have been many very good games in the 2000s, no other game equaled or exceeded the degree to which Deus Ex integrated every major style of fun that a computer game can offer."

Janne Haffer: "Games can be such a limited medium, even if you disregard all technical and budgetary limitations you still have the impossible balancing acts of interactivity vs story-telling and player choices vs direction. Deus Ex manages better than any other game to be balanced and still remain coherent in every single thing it tries to do.

"Every location is just large enough to feel free, but small enough to remain interesting. Every NPC has just enough character to feel interesting but not so much to bog the game down or feel out of place. Every item, skill, enemy feels like they are exactly what you expect them to be, and still the game just keeps surprising you.

"All the hugely successful and awesome games of this decade has done one or a few things really really well, often way better than the "same feature" in Deus Ex. However in the end, while playing those games you always end up thinking "this could have been so much better if detail X was like Y instead. Deus Ex by no means has perfect gameplay, story or atmosphere, but it is the only game that manages to not fail at one single thing. And it does it seemingly with a simple shrug, like it's saying 'how could it be done any other way?'"

Mike Orenich, LucasArts: "It was the first game that I played which truly allowed you the freedom to complete the game/missions with multiple paths. The RPG elements (skills & augmentations) allowed you to customize as you progressed through the game, so you could blast your way killing everyone in sight or sneak through solving the game without killing anyone.

"The best part was how your actions influenced the story and the character's responses to you as the player. If you helped someone out and responded nicely, they often gave you information like a password or helped you by giving you a price cut on goods.

"I spent hours customizing my character, the UI, reading all of the books and datacubes in the game. The story was top-notch as well. This game was released in 2000 and has an eerie history to the back-story. In the fiction, terrorists had apparently blown up the twin towers in New York city. Sadly this piece of fiction became fact in 2001."

Tynan Sylvester: "Combined multiple forward-thinking design elements into a cohesive whole. Many of the design patterns didn't reappear in other games until years later. Still by far the best story told in a video game. No game has come close since until BioShock, released 6 years after DX."

Alan Youngblood, Matreya Studios: "I first played its somewhat inferior port on PS2 but later bought the PC version. It takes a premise of X-files (an awesome TV detective show) and backs it up with the greatest gameplay. The level of interactivity is amazing.

"What makes Deus Ex hands down awesome is that you can play it the way you want to. With so many games that force you to play the only way the lazy designers allow, Deus Ex shines as a beacon of great game design and gameplay. I love that I can play the same game running and guning or with stealth or no violence and all negotiation. The fact that gamers are still buying it and still playing and loving it makes it the game of the decade."

Anonymous: "Deus Ex represented the complete fusion of the progress of two of gaming's most celebrated genres: first-person shooting and role-playing, without a direct preference to either. It boasted of a rich, complex and thought-provoking story written intelligently, with the player allowed just the right level to freedom to make their own choices and take the gameplay in their own stride.

"The well-researched world of Deus Ex is one of the most memorable in gaming, bringing forth a cyberpunk world that wasn't clichéed or trite, but novel and intellectual, in the same vein as Neuromancer or Blade Runner. Deus Ex was the heralder of a revolutionary genre, and an intellectual leap in video games and game storytelling, that unfortunately never saw the dawn of light."

David Sattar: "Just the perfect shooter, but it was so much more than just a shooter. All the skill tree development and of course the augments. The game allowed a multitude of ways to succeed and not every path had to be taken, not every door had to be entered.

"Best of all, if you did have to get to the other side of a given door, there were usually several ways to do it. I must have played it through a dozen times, and I was still finding new things on all by the last two runs through. And that wasn't all - there was still the backstory conspiracy of shadowy world spanning organisations to revel in."

Michael Correnti: "This game was revolutionary in almost every aspect, but most notably it made 'choice' more than just a buzzword or an empty promise. Virtually every situation in the game plays out differently depending on your personality or, on later playthroughs, your penchant for trying new things.

"That the game happens to have an engrossing story line, beautiful environments, characters you come to love and some of the most literate writing ever seen from this industry, well -- that is all gravy."

Bruce Racey: "Sure, it wasn't the first game to mix RPGs and FPSs, it probably wasn't the first game that allowed you choice in how to tackle puzzles, it wasn't the first game with a complex, multilayered story. But it was the best. Deus Ex was the first game I've ever played where I truly felt free.

"Between stealth, run & gun, hacking, and god knows how many other powers, it was the first game you could really play 'your way'. Sure, older RPGs gave a superficial semblence of choice, they let you be a brawling melee barbarian or an archer, or a mage, but ultimately you played the game the same way."

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Anthony Charles
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World of Warcraft has had as large of a social and cultural impact as any game, but I believe it lacks in innovation. It's basically a better executed Everquest done for a mainstream audience.

Khin Boon Chang
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No Warcraft III? The birth place for tower defense and dota. It still have a large community playing since 2002. Still very playable after 8 years and couldn't appear on this list? I believe just Dota player alone have more audience that most game listed here. And it lay the foundation for WOW. I feel unjust for Warcraft III.

Hanley Leung
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guitar hero hello?

Jonathon Walsh
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@Khin Actually both forms of games existed previously in Starcraft. It was simply WC3 that really expanded on the game types and opened up new possibilities. That said WC3 as an standalone RTS is quite lackluster. There are a lot of... questionable... design decisions in my opinion. The biggest flaw being that WC3 has one of the biggest slippery slopes of any RTS. The loss of a single unit in WC3 is punished twice (you give up xp to the enemy in addition to the lost unit) and the loss of map position is punished four ways (lose control over expansions, neutral creeps, neutral shops, and loss of map position which is significant in and of itself).

DotA is quite popular and would have made a good honorable mention but its flaws and limitations make it unworthy of a GotD spot in my opinion.

That said I like this list a lot. The only game I'm iffy about (HL2) is also one of my favorite games. I love HL2 but I didn't find its impact to be as significant as the rest of the amazing list. That and HL1 is the better entry in the series to me (not that it would be on this list either since it released in '98).

Nicholas McKay
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@Anthony: By that standard Halo probably shouldn't be on this list either. But cultural impact shouldn't be understated. There are very few games that make a significant impact on the larger society (and not just our little community), and even fewer that can claim to make as big of an impact as WoW. Every game on this list can trace its mechanics to a predecessor.

Besides, the way that Blizzard has handled the evolution of WoW, and indeed how they handled stoking the fires to increase popularity... I think if you can't call that innovative you have to at least call it genius. I think, because it's 5 years old now and because it's been so popular for so long, we forget just how hard it is to get that popular or how hard it is to actually make a game that can be so immersive and so much fun.

Sjors Jansen
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So to get to be popular is to be good? In that case I would agree with Hanley Leung.

But I don't :)

Joshua Sterns
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I love the list. Pretty much what I thought it would be.

Can't help but agree about WoW. It was the only game I played almost exclusively for 2.5 years. Nothing has held my attention, or provided so many hours of fun entertainment.

Dean Rymer
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No Guitar Hero? The game that started a new era of peripheral gaming.

No God of War? The game that has been one of the most mimicked for its tone and feel.

No Resident Evil 4? The game that popularized the "2nd person" perspective and set a new standard for enemy behavior and environment interaction.

No Shenmue? The game that gave us quick-time-events.

How about Halo 2? The game that gave us the best online lobby. So good that now 360 dashboard itself has its own lobby system.

What about Geometry Wars? A game that showed retro mechanics and downloadable titles on console can be a huge success.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

John Gordon
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I think the main "innovation" of WoW for MMO's is not what it added, but what it took away. Namely it took away most of the frustration. MMO's have always had really fun gameplay elements: building up a character, exploring a huge world, playing with friends and making new ones, etc.... However previous MMO's also had a lot of frustrating elements: Grinding, corpse runs, looking for a group, etc.... World of Warcraft found a way to take the frustration away from all of these things. Grinding is more fun because there are tons of quests. Corpse runs are now just a short run to your corpse to get back in the game. Looking for a group is not frustrating, because you can play solo. I think overall they just did everything possible to remove frustration, and when they removed all of the crap a really fun game was what remained.

Luis Guimaraes
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Shadow of The Colosus!! Hell, yeah!

Hey wait, WoW?

EDIT: Smells like a really big push into MMOs for the next decade, brandwidth and lag issues are still what keeps MMOs to evolve.

Bart Stewart
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I have no serious arguments with this list. Naturally, there are still some comments I might make....

1. Other platforms haven't been out as long, but it's still the case that more of the "Games of the Decade" were made for the PC than any other platform. It's also worth noting that the top three GotD (WoW, Deus Ex, HL2) nominees were all PC games.

Counting up the platforms on which each GotD nominee was originally released:

PC: 5

PS/PS2/PS3: 3

Xbox/360: 3

Wii: 2

GameCube: 1

And factoring in the original platforms for the honorable mentions:

PC: 12

PS/PS2/PS3: 12

Xbox/360: 9

Wii: 2

GameCube: 2

So is there any meaning in this information?

2. No "Fallout 3" (2008)? As a fairly recent game it may be too young to merit "Game of the Decade" status. Even so, given its breadth of content, highly memorable atmosphere, superb writing, highly polished DLC model, and fidelity to an ongoing franchise, I'm surprised not to see it receive even an honorable mention.

3. No "Bejeweled" (2001)? This may be the only casual game that's come close to matching the popularity of Solitaire among people who don't consider themselves "video game players." As an exemplar of simple casual games that have exploded onto multiple platforms, I'm also surprised not to see this game make Gamasutra's GotD list.

4. No "RuneScape" (2001)? Considering this game's popularity (it made the Top Ten Internet Searches of 2009 list, and was the only computer game to do so), as well as its technical architecture (it's browser-based, opening it up to potentially many more players than a platform-specific game), is there something going on here that isn't being picked up on by Gamasutra readers?

5. I can't help but be fascinated by the number of commenters for World of Warcraft who added something like, "I stopped playing WoW, but" or "I personally didn't care for WoW, but."

On the one hand, this effort at objectivity makes WoW's win even more impressive. Perhaps it's a bit like Time magazine's Person of the Year -- the choice is not necessarily a positive role model; it's just someone who significantly influenced world events for good or ill.

On the other hand, it's remarkable to hear people saying the equivalent of "this is the Game of the Decade *despite the fact that I don't want to play it*."

Gustav Andreasson
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World of Warcraft is without doubt a brilliant business idea and offers a near-limitless amount of gaming hours to the player, but along with it comes a lack innovation in terms of gameplay as well as mutability. The game itself is very enjoyable in my opinion, but it never lets you feel like the hero you set out to be, as half of the global gaming community triumphs along with you in every turn.

Gary Hutton
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Glad to see Shadow of the Colossus and Katamari continue to appear in best of lists, and for all the right reasons.

Anyone surprised to see WoW at the top of the list...shouldn't be. Drop the name of the game to nearly anyone, and they will have heard of it, and know it's a game.

Even my bingo playing 95 year-old great-aunt knows what WoW is..."It's that computer game thing where that Mr. T fellow throws grenades at you..."

Anyone who desires to learn how to entice people into a gargantuan world with 100's of hours of play ahead of them to see endgame, never mind ALL the content....needs to pay attention to what Blizzard has done, and continues to do to keep veterans returning and noobs leveling from 1 to 80. Whether those elements are completely ethical is another topic...

No, it's not Katamari...or GTA3...but innovation isn't always the lynchpin to success, sometimes quality and continuously incorporating the best of gaming's ideas (even if your competitors thought of them first) is enough to keep people riveted.

Look at Halo...continuously trumpeted as a contender for best game etc, but it certainly didn't invent the genre.

It will be a strange day when WoW shuts down it's servers, if that day ever comes. And as for all the people who said they didn't like WoW or had stopped playing...either "the lady doth protest too much", or someone got too close to becoming another WoWhead.

David Tarris
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Deus Ex is without a doubt my favorite game of all time, but I'm surprised to see it standing shoulder to shoulder with a global and cultural phenomenon like World of WarCraft. It's easy for me to forget that I'm not the last man on Earth who still remembers the game, but it truly pioneered a level of choice in games through both dialogue and interactions with the environment that hasn't been matched since.

Llaura Mcgee
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In the list making spirit, here's my top 10 games Gamasutra readers overlooked. ;)

10. Knights of the Old Republic

9. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

8. World of Goo - When such a small title is my GotY, facing great competition from GTA, Fable, L4D, Braid etc etc, then you know it's special.

7. Ico - I find SotC rather overrated, especially in consideration of its (imo obviously) artistically more successful and focused predecessor.

6. Mother 3

5. Beyond Good & Evil

4. Psychonauts

3. Half-Life 2: Episode 2

2. Vampire Masquerade: Bloodlines - The only game that took what Deus Ex was trying to do and ran with it. Easily the best written game yet.

1. Majora's Mask - The best, most progressive and least Zelda like incarnation of the series. A sideways, often uncomfortable (what a risky opening) look at society.

Really, there's so many more I could mention (Wario Ware, Counter-Strike, Ikaruga, Rez, Rock Band, Oblivion, Eternal Darkness, Vietiful Joe, Snake Eater, Cave Story, Perfect Dark, Advance Wars, Paper Mario 2, Rome: Total War, Thief 2 and on...).

Alistair Langfield
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It's been a good decade of gaming that is for sure.

Matt Mihaly
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I wonder if Farmville should have been on there. It's far more popular, measured by users, than anything else on this list. Nothing on this list even comes close, though popularity isn't the end-all, be-all by any means.

Jonathon Walsh
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@Paul Glad to see someone else appreciated Ico over SotC. I love both but I find Ico a lot more moving and atmospheric than SotC. On the other hand I think SotC is the more innovative of the two titles so I can see why it would make the list.

Rod Keller
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I agree, Farmville is about to do more to impact the gaming scene than WoW will. I've never seen my mother, brother, sister and other non-gamers have that *need* in their eyes to use a computer since this game. And, it's simplistic design that allows for progression but weens addiction by disconnecting the user for hours makes it a healthier online experience. What did WoW do? It just took elements from the many MMO's before it, polished them, put the blizzard stamp on and away it went.

Many players who still play WoW who I talk to don't even like the game. They play it out of habit. I can't make a statement for all WoW players, but I've heard many make similar assessments. So I mean, is it the most played game? No. Is it revolutionary in design? No. Is it the best game of the past 10 years? Hardly.

Curtis Turner - IceIYIaN
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World of WarCraft, hands down. Half-Life 2 might have countless mods, but WoW does too and the only thing you can edit is the HUD pretty much. When you first get the game it's perhaps one of the dullest games you'll ever play. Continue to play and the addiction can only gets worse. Finally you're wondering why you're just not into playing other games anymore.

WoW has one of the best config/hotkeys in any game, period. At level 80 I have more hotkeys than probably five games combined. Also showing that a mouse and keyboard still crushes other types of control.

Screenshots matter more than ever. You've probably taken them in other games, but after some time in WoW you'll have countless amounts of them.

Sure, mad n00bZ, lots of heros, but still plenty of legends and myths. They day I put Icy Chill enchant on the Grand Marshal Warblade made me one of the most powerful players on the Ruin Battle Group for I'd say a year. Then look at the players who've made movies. The viewers they get is countless.

The amount of content is insane. From textures, sounds, models, game engine, etc etc etc. It's endless.

Dan Saundberg
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Opinions and felling is all good and nice, but lets cut the bullshit and do the math.

The top12 games of the decade are the top12 highest grossing games. So add up the number of sales for all platforms and that is the REAL top12 games of the decade!

Rod Keller
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@Daniel, Even that doesn't well describe "Top".

Top is so vague and probably best matched with "Best". And the HUGE problem with Best Game is the vague basis upon what the best is. Does it selling the most make it the best game, or the biggest seller? Does it being the most influential make it the best designed? Does having the best graphics give it the best sound? Does the fact that YOU like the game beat all other catagories? If you don't have a real scoring system you can hardly fairly match any game against another. How do you rate the addicting qualities of WoW to the stellar story of Half-Life 2 and pick a winner? Why is addiction rated higher, and what is the numeric value? How are you going to rate the genre defining The Sims vs the perfected formula of Halo?

Honestly the votes of lists like this come down to a convoluted attempt at people trying to sum up all these many qualities of great games and a "feel-out" process on which comes on top. And considering different people rate things differently, almost everyone looks at Top Best Game lists and thinks "It's wrong" or at the very least "It's in the wrong order".

What would be a much more interesting list would be Gamasutra's Top 12 Favorite Games of the Decade as voted by the community. Then you are absolutely free to abandon the restraints of having to weigh each game by individual merits and just say whichever one pleases you the most, and best of all, the end list can't be disputed. It got the most votes, so therefore it was the favorite.

Sorry to rant so much, I've just read so many of these lists and a little person inside of me cries out. =)

Philip Riley
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@ David Tarris

I cannot disagree with this list either. I was nervous that Deus Ex wasn't included, and was fully prepared to scoff at this IMHO glaring omission. Yet it pleasantly, and deservedly, landed at number two.

I've played many games and enjoyed the satisfaction of completing them. DX is the only one that was bittersweet in beating it. I was sad that the journey had to come to an end.

FWIW, another DX game is in the works....

Ted Brown
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I hope for a time I can play Shadow of Colossus without wanting to snap the controller in half out of frustration, boredom, or both. For now, I must respect it from a distance. =)

Dan VanBogelen
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WoW clearly has the biggest impact world wide, and just due to the number of people that have played it, it would win the #1 spot do to the majority vote. I don't think there is any other game out there that is so big that it could cause government officials to fight over the regulations of an entire genre, like WoW has done in China.

A Game like WoW came along and proved that there is big money to be made in MMO's. It has created a huge boom in the genre, and the race to create the next "WoW killer".

WoW has embed itself into the culture in a way to create cartoon episodes, memorable Youtube Videos, and 10 minute celebrities (what was that question posed on Jeopardy?).

Diego Perez Martinez
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I was just reading number one and thinking that i would have preferred it to be Deus Ex than World of Warcraft; then I heard a WOW commercial in the kitchen while my mother is preparing the New Year's Eve dinner.

You Win Blizzard.

Tim Johnston
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Deus Ex...finally getting its true recognition.

To this day I have dreams of a GTA, sandbox style game that is the rebirth of Deus Ex. Imagine Deus Ex as an open, persistant world, and has the same well-crafted backstory that reveals itself through dialog and game interaction. The same LOD of weapons/augs would be there, but this time its your factions/alliances that determine your ability to advance. Everything would have that persistant feel to it, and at the same time would appear to be escalating from a story pacing standpoint, until you become involved and start making choices, then it accelerates, and the game world seems to start evolving even more rapidly.

Someone....for the love of God...please make this game!

Ruthaniel van-den-Naar
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Very stupid list..

Bryan OHara
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I had this sinking feeling as I was reading through the article that I was getting closer and closer to number 1 and yet WoW hadn't been mentioned yet. I cringe at the thought of it being top game of the decade, but it had an undeniable effect on the modern MMO industry.

I still think Guitar Hero should have been mentioned. It did wonders for reaching audiences that would normally never play a video game.

Anthony Charles
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I didn't realize how much people loved Deus Ex.

Jason Ferguson
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Not a bad list. I don't agree with all of the entries on there, but there have been so many great games that you can't possibly include them all.

I DO hate seeing Halo on there, though.

Luis Guimaraes
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@Dan VanBogelen

I really doubt anybody can a make the next "WoW killer", unless it's called WoH (World of Halo), WoGoW (World of Gears/God of War), WoMF (World of Madden Football), WoSvdR (World of Smackdown vs Raw) or WoTS (World of The Sims)... In others words, do the same that WoW did, better. Maybe I'd give World of Shadow of the Colossus, Bayonetta or Soul Calibur a go... Too bad there's no World of Castlevania...

@Rod Keller

All agreed.

Carl Chavez
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I think it comes down to how one interprets "Game of the Decade".

If one thinks it means "Absolute Best Game of the Decade", as Gamasutra posed verbatim in its original question, then of course people are going to want their favorite game there. In that case, I'd vote for Civilization IV or Pokémon Platinum, not WoW.

However, if one thinks it means "Most Important Game of the Decade", then a lot more than fun has to be factored. The problem with using fun as the primary factor in the decision is that fun is too subjective. Many other factors, such as (but not exclusively) game design influence, narrative, range of appeal, graphics, sound, profitability, sales longevity, long-term replayability, and player loyalty must be considered. That is why I ended up voting for WoW.

As for Farmville, it hasn't proven itself yet. Although it has many millions of players, it hasn't proven to cause those players to play or buy more games. Although there are several copycats around now, it has nowhere near the game design influence of something like Half-Life 2 or Bejeweled. It hasn't proven itself to be playable for several years, and though it is probably profitable, it makes nowhere near the profit of top-tier games, and some people are suspicious of the ways it makes money. It might make the list of "most influential games, 2000-2019", but we don't have enough data yet.

[User Banned]
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Scott Muir
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I'm glad to see Deus Ex getting some well-deserved respect. Maybe the order of the top 4 could be disputed, but I completely agree with the choices.

Jonny Cook
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Am I the only one that thinks at least _one_ of the Metal Gear Solids deserves a place on this list?

Dave Endresak
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I'll just offer one quick note for everyone to consider.

I find these types of lists interesting because they tend to be very ethnocentric due to the fact that the gaming industry tends to be locked into its own localized views by issues such as language barriers. For example, some posters have mentioned World of Warcraft, but WoW has not had a huge impact IF the entire global market is considered because it has not had a huge impact in Asian markets compared to other games there. This is also true for many other titles that are considered "big" in specific markets but are unknown or relatively unpopular elsewhere in the world. This is important when these types of lists are complied because gaming is actually global in nature regardless of various barriers that lead to ethnocentrism in voting lists, reviews, and even game creation/design.

I think it would be nice if the gamers around the world would be much more proactive in recognizing this particular issue, especially since it has been reported on by both gaming and mainstream mass media sources numerous times over the years.

Dave Endresak
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Sorry... I just realized I wanted to make one more comment about one particular quote.

I am wondering about Mike Orenich from LucasArts because it seems like he has very faulty memory of the game. For one thing, the game was Game of the Year for 1999; it was not released in 2000 (No One Lives Forever was Game of the Year for 2000... and actually should be on this list, in my view). Perhaps more significantly, the story of Deus Ex is that the Statue of Liberty, not the World Trade Center, has been blown up by "terrorists," but this was actually done as part of a conspiracy between government and corporate America in order to consolidate power over the vast majority of the population.

I just find it odd that not only would someone who evidently voted for Deus Ex make such mistakes, but that Gamasutra would choose such incorrect quotes about the game for their article.

Carl Chavez
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@Dave Endresak: your point about ethnocentrism is interesting, but your example of WoW may not be a good example. In 2008, WoW was #1 worldwide in MMOs, possibly making more money than the next four games combined (all Asian games: Fantasy Westward Journey, Maple Story, Shanda, and Lineage I/II). Additionally, WoW's economic effect on secondary markets in Asia is quite significant, since Asia generates a large amount of gold, items, and accounts and exports them to the rest of the world. That is both economically and culturally interesting, since that wealth is actually generating additional revenue in the markets beyond the subscription or free-to-play revenue that goes to the game company.

Better examples of ethnocentricity might be something like the games of the Dragon Quest, Monster Hunter, or Pro Evolution Soccer series. Dragon Quest and Monster Hunter are huge in Japan but not anywhere else. Pro Evolution Soccer is big in Japan and Europe but barely noticed in North America. All three series have games that could arguably be in a "Best of the Decade" list.

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Off the top of my head (long line of games in that time), so I might be missing some, my top 10 would be:

These are based of of fun factor. A game in my top 10 will have playability, meaning these are games that I remember being attached to from beginning to end, almost non stop. Basically a game you can't put down, and would usually want to pick right back up after finishing (if it has an end).

10 Counter-Strike Source

9 Resident Evil 4

8 Warcraft III

7 Deus Ex

6 World of Warcraft

5 Metal Gear Solid 4

4 Shadow of the Colossus

3 Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

2 Final Fantasy XII (spell lag kinda lowered this or it would be #1. The spell lag made spell strategies not possible late in the game)

1 Final Fantasy X

Games I would have liked to include, but couldn't. They're on a similar level as the top 10:

Final Fantasy X-2

Half-Life 2

Ninja Gaiden 1/2

Fallout 3

Everquest expansions (reaching here, but I can't make a best of list without sneaking in EQ, it's still my favorite MMORPG)

Everquest II

Street Fighter IV

Digital Devil Saga 1/2

Tekken 6

and I'm sure a bunch of others I'm missing.

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Matt Ross
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this is actually a really good list, as soon as you rid yourself of any notion that this is a list of THE BEST games of the decade. some of them are there for being really good, some are there for being different AND really popular... its a list of memorable games...

the one that pisses me off the most is HALO.

lets not kid ourselves here, the only reason this is here is because it was the first really popular CONSOLE FPS. if it was PC only it would have been forgotten about instantly. its average, but its THE BEST console people had.

I feel the same kinda rings true for Mass Effect, but I don't play RPGs, so I can't comment.

as for WoW being the Biggest game of the naughties? well OF COURSE it is, You can't argue with that??

Its by NO means THE BEST game, I think Deus Ex landing spot two simply for being awesome cements it as BEST game of the decade. but the fact that WoW's world is a pretty Gamery world, AND they charge you for every second spent in it, and yet they STILL attract more players than most other games, is quite an achievement.

on that note, I know this is an industry site, but... any chance of a BEST games of the decade list? what developers thing are truly great games regardless of their success, for instance, a list where MW2 would be marked down for hurting the community, a list where WoW's popularity would have nothing to do with it. you certainly can't go to the fanatic hype infected game reviewer for this....

for me Hl2 would be in there.

and if you were to count the Orange box as one? (which I would) it was def the best for me.

Uncharted 2 would at least get an honourable mention, despite the somewhat stale story and premise behind it, its just done SO DAMN WELL! I don't play many games (as may be evident by my shitty list), the one I play the most is Starcraft, that was released the decade before! but uncharted 2 rekindled my interest and has prompted me to try more games.

Wilfredo Ruiz
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I thought the list was pretty good. I liked the fact that Deus Ex was up there. Thief and Deus Ex are still my two favorite games of all time. I too was pissed that Halo and Mass Effect were there. I think Oblivion could have taken one of those spots, even with its shortcomings. I also like the fact that there are mostly smarter gamers making comments on this website.

David Tarris
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@Matt Rose

Trying not to kid myself here, but I'm a PC gamer who actually enjoyed Halo for what it was: a refreshing take on the FPS whose gameplay was centered around the strengths of the console and came out better for it. It had a lot of subtle innovations that, like all things, it may not have been the absolute first game to do, but was certainly the game to popularize. For example, the holy trinity of grenade/melee/gun, the limitation of carrying two weapons at a time, seamless blend of ground and vehicular combat, regenerating health system, sophisticated enemy AI, cooperative campaign mode, and the list goes on.

I think the game had a lot going for it, console or otherwise. I understand there are many PC elitists who will never accept that fact, but hopefully you're not one of them.

Anyhow, I like this list because it gives you a good taste of what the wider community of people who play and have been inspired by games from the past ten years really derive inspiration from. Unlike the vocal minority here that complains about the proper criteria for every inclusion and omission, just taking the list for what it is, you get a good feel for where this industry's headed in the next ten years. Afterall, if these are the games that game developers think were the "top" games of the past decade, whether for attempted objective or shamelessly subjective reasons, then I'm sure we can expect more games like these in the years to come.

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Sean Barton
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All the games listed deserve their honors, and I know that no list will appease everyone, but it's a real shame that Guitar Hero or Rock Band aren't on there. Plastic rock was such a huge part of this past decade.

David Tarris
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"Real hardcore gamers are not "PC elitists" they are platform agonstic, I've owned every platform and played them all like a real hardcore gamer would"

Well, okay buddy, so you're a "REAL hardcore gamer", but I was talking specifically about "PC elitists" (hence my use of the term in the first place) who feel that an FPS made for consoles will always be inferior due to a lack of the unrealistically accurate aiming that exists on the PC.

So what we end up with is a situation where you feel the game gets undue credit from the gamers who just aren't extreme enough to "roll with your crew" (or whatever REAL HARDCORE gamers do nowadays), and where I feel that it gets undue criticism from gaming elitists who think that because something attains mainstream popularity, or uses a control stick instead of a mouse, that somehow makes it worse.

In some ways, and in some cases, we may both be right, but at the end of the day, it's hard to deny that, for better or worse, Halo had a profound impact on the evolution of the FPS as we know it today. Call of Duty may be the game plotting the evolutionary course for the next ten years, but I believe the 00's were defined by what Half-Life and Halo established.

Jen Bauer
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Metroid Prime? Come on.

Adolfo Sehnert
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Just a question: in the real life you count starting from 1 till 10 (as all normal people) or from zero till 9?

If is right the first, why you realy don't wait that this decade (2001-2010) must be done?

Ori Inbar
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This list shows the amazing progress gaming made this decade. What will happen in the next decade?

I bet games will escape the screen and integrate with the real world a la augmented reality.

Did you know such games already appeared in 2009?

To see a glimpse of the possibilities check out the augmented reality games of 2009 at

Carl Chavez
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@Adolfo: Game developers consider time zero-based, including decades and centuries. ;-)

Wilfredo Ruiz
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@ Jen Grier

I didn't get the Metroid Prime pick either.

Adolfo Sehnert
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@Carl: thanks :)

(*he grabs pen and paper and writes: developers are not normal people they count from 0 till 9*)

Jay Simmons
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Metroid Prime? Yeah I agree with the above post. I couldn't get past the wonky controls and the game didn't really hook me at all. The other picks I could see why they would be on the list for various reasons but Metroid Prime seemed just like a really average Game Cube game in the Game Cube's already average lineup.

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Well metroid prime to me was a very good game, but with so many games in a decade I don't know if I could put it up there. The article is correct in their assessment about it successfully bringing the 2D metroid feel and atmosphere to 3D, something many other 2D games have failed at (I'm looking at you Castlevania).

Christopher McLaren
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One thing that I noticed is that there are no DS or PSP games. Why is this? Is it because these platforms mainly get ports of games? Or do they lack the creative innovation? Or are they just not very good games on these systems? Or do they lack the ability to push the boundaries due to not have the processing power (doesn't amek sense as the Wii manages this).

DukeJake R
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Have to agree with Deus Ex. I love Mass Effect but Deus Ex is just so much deeper with so much more replay value. I personally found Half Life 2 to be a dissapointment. Loved the first one that came out in 1998, but HL2 only really added the gravity gun (physics puzzles? Because we can!) and as a game it was extremely linear. HL2 was basically a decent shooter with a half-decent story (that was never properly explained).

No mention of casual games in this list - which is odd as numbers-wise the average gamer is a businessman on the train playing bejewelled on his iphone. Not a geek in his bedroom bathed in the glow of his alienware as he frags his way through the night.

Mike Engle
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HL2, Halo, and Metroid Prime seem a bit shaky.

My "favorites of the decade" list would include:

* Team Fortress 2

* Planetside

* Geometry Wars 2

* Puzzle Quest

* Rez

Runners up would go to Quake Wars and Puzzle Pirates.

Tim Carter
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Grist for the mill.

Christopher Kipp
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what the fuck puzzle Quest is so fucking stupid what r u thinking

DukeJake R
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I can't argue with the impact that WoW has had over the last decade, but I have an issue with this game being number one. My question is this; would WoW be game of the decade if it wasn't massively multiplayer? Would 8 million people be playing it if they hadn't struck up friendships with people online? If it wasn't an online game then it would be "Oblivion" set in a different universe and I don't see Oblivion in the list.

So for me, as a purely standalone experience and for immersion in a well designed open ended game, I have to say Deus Ex should be game of the decade.