Game history

Updated: 04/02/2019 by Computer Hope
Reference Question
CH001007 What was the first video and computer game released?
Year Event
1947 Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann. file patent #2,455,992 describing one of the first computer games played on a CRT January 25, 1947.
1952 Alexander Sandy Douglas created the first graphical computer game of Tic-Tac-Toe on an EDSAC known s "OXO."
1958 William Higinbotham created the first video game called: Tennis for Two.
1962 Steve Russell created "SpaceWar!," and released it in February 1962. SpaceWar! is considered the first game intended for computers.
1967 Ralph Baer created "Chase," the first video game that was capable of being played on a television.
1969 Ralph Baer filed for a US patent on August 21, 1969, that describes playing games on a television and would later be a part of the Magnavox Odyssey.
1971 Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney create the first arcade game called "Computer Space."
1972 The first video game console called the Magnavox Odyssey was demonstrated on May 24, 1972, and later released by Magnavox and sold for $100.00 USD.
1972 Atari released Pong, the first commercial video game on November 29, 1972.
1977 Atari released the Atari 2600 (originally called the Atari VCS) on September 11, 1977. It is credited as being the first game system to utilize ROM cartridges for storing game code, instead of having games built into the gaming system.
1978 Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle create the first MUD.
1978 Space Invaders was released as an arcade video game in Japan in June 1978 and later in North America in 1979. Its popularity grew quickly, with over 100,000 machines sold and installed in arcades across Japan by the end of 1978. The success of Space Invaders earns it a spot as a pop culture icon, inspiring ports to multiple computer platforms and gaming consoles, several sequels, and many re-releases.
1980 Atari became the first company to register a Copyright for two computer games: "Asteroids" and "Lunar Lander" on June 17, 1980.
1980 Namco released Pac-Man as an arcade game in Japan on May 22, 1980, and later in the United States in October 1980. It is considered one of the highest revenue generating video games of all time, bringing in over $2.5 billion as of the 1990s. Its popularity has spawned over 30 licensed spin-offs on multiple gaming systems and computer platforms.
1981 Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness was released for the PC in 1981 by Origin Systems. The popularity of the game results in nine sequels being released for the primary series between 1981 and 1999. Several additional series and spin-offs are released as well for the PC and other platforms. The Ultima III sequel is also credited with influencing the development and release of other role playing games like Excalibur and Dragon Quest.
1981 Jeff Dailey, a 19-year old becomes the first-person to die from computer gaming after dying from a heart attack after posting a score of 16,660 on Berzerk.
1981 Castle Wolfenstein was developed and released by Muse Software for the Apple II in 1981. It is later released for the 8-bit Atari system and the Commodore 64. Its popularity inspired the future release of Wolfenstein 3D, a DOS-based first-person shooter video game.
1981 Donkey Kong was released by Namco and Nintendo as an Arcade video game on July 9, 1981, becoming one of the best selling arcade games of the early 1980s. Its popularity results in 15 different sequels over the next 30 years and multiple ports to other gaming consoles and computer platforms that included the Commodore 64 and Atari.
1982 On January 18, 1982, the Time Magazine was released with its first cover dedicated to video games with the title "Video Games Are Blitzing the World"
1982 The first Microsoft Flight Simulator game was released for the PC in 1982. Microsoft Flight Simulator is the start to a very successful series of flight simulator games, running nearly 25 years (three years longer than the Windows operating system series). It one of the longest running PC game series ever, awarding it a Guinness world record: Gamer's Edition 2008 entry for "Longest Running Flight Sim Series".
1982 The Vectrex video game console was first released in 1982.
1983 The first game in the King's Quest series was released by Sierra Entertainment in July 1983. It is originally designed to be played on the PCjr, an IBM home computer model. It was later released for the Apple II, Sega Master System and MS-DOS computers. Multiple sequels are released between 1984 and 1998.
1983 The NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) was the first console gaming system released by Nintendo, launched in Japan on July 15, 1983. It is the best-selling game console in Japan by the end of 1984. Production discontinued in 1995, with 61.9 million units sold worldwide.
1984 The MUD was known as MAD becomes the first global MUD and runs across BITNET.
1984 The game Tetris was first released in the USSR on June 6, 1984. The game becomes a classic video game and is available to play on nearly every computer platform and gaming console. IGN ranks the game 2nd on their list of the top 100 video games of all time.
1985 Super Mario Brothers for the NES console system was released on September 13, 1985. Packaged with the NES console and also sold separately, over 40 million copies of the game are sold as of 1999. It's success resulted in multiple sequels being developed, including Super Mario Bros. 2 in 1986 and Super Mario Bros. 3 in 1988.
1986 The Legend of Zelda for the NES was released on February 21, 1986. The first game in the very successful franchise of games, it is the fourth best selling game ever for the NES. In total, the Legend of Zelda franchise, a total of 16 games for the Nintendo series of game consoles, sells over 67 million copies worldwide.
1987 Leisure Suit Larry was released for the PC on July 5, 1987. The game was geared towards a more mature audience, being that it centers around a character that attempts to seduce attractive women. The game's popularity and success results in a total of seven games being released between 1987 and 1996, despite its questionable content and objectives.
1987 The first Final Fantasy role playing video game was released on December 18, 1987 by Square Enix. Originally released for the Nintendo gaming console, a sequel was later released for the PC and PlayStation 2 in 2002. The Final Fantasy game franchise becomes very successful and popular, selling over 100 million copies between the original and all sequels. Its success has earned it seven records in the Guinness world records Gamer's Edition 2008.
1988 Sega released its first gaming console system, the Sega Genesis (or Mega Drive in Japan), in Japan on October 29, 1988, and later in North America on August 14, 1989. As of 2010, at least 20.4 million units are sold globally.
1989 SimCity was released by Maxis on October 3, 1989. By December 1990, the game has won 21 awards. It was also ranked as the fourth best PC game ever by PC World in 2009 and eleventh on a similar list by IGN in 2009. In 2007, at a German technology and games trade show, it is credited as being one of the sixteen most influential games ever.
1990 Wing Commander was released by Origin Systems as a PC DOS-based game on September 26, 1990. It is ranked as the seventh best PC game ever by Computer Gaming World in 1996 and Maximum PC lists it in 2011 as one of 16 games that should be remade and re-released.
1990 The Secret of Monkey Island is released in October 1990 by LucasArts. Designed as a point-and-click graphic adventure game, it was well received by the gaming community and critics. The game has been featured several times in IGN's Video Game hall of fame and in 1996, it was ranked as the 19th best game of all time by Computer Gaming World. Three additional sequels were released, each receiving excellent reviews and rankings. A remake of the game was released in 2009 for the iPhone as well.
1990 The first Commander Keen game, "Mooned on Mars," was released on December 14, 1990.
1991 Scorched Earth was released for the computer as a DOS-based game in 1991. Officially released as version 1.0 in 1991, version 1.0b was technically the first release of the game as a Beta before version 1.0 release. Due to its popularity, the game has been the target of many clones since its release, including Atomic Tanks, xscorch, and Scorched 3D.
1991 Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge was released in December 1991 by LucasArts. As a sequel to the original game, The Secret of Monkey Island, the game received very high ratings, including a 96% from Computer and Video Games. It was ranked 74th on the list of best games of all time by Computer Gaming World in 1996.
1991 Sid Meier's Civilization, more commonly called Civilization or Civ, is released in late 1991 by MicroProse. In November 1996, Computer Gaming World named Civ as the best game of all time. In 2000, IGN placed the game 4th on its list of the top PC games ever and in 2012, Time magazine included the game in its list of the 100 greatest video games of all time.
1992 Wolfenstein 3D ess released by id Software on May 5, 1992. It is originally released for the PC and later is ported to computer platforms and gaming consoles. It is considered to be one of the major reasons for the popularity and success of the run-and-gun type of first-person shooter video game.
1993 The Incredible Machine was released for the PC and Mac, providing players with a multitude of puzzles to solve using various items. The object of the puzzles range from getting a ball into a basket, shooting off a rocket or popping a balloon. Multiple versions of the game are released over the next 17 years, including versions for the iPad and iPhone.
1993 LucasArts released Star Wars: X-Wing in February 1993. Star Wars: X-Wing is the first game released by LucasArts that is centered around the Star Wars series. It is the best selling game in 1993 and Computer Gaming World names it "Simulation of the Year". It is also award the Origins Award for "Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Computer Game of 1993".
1993 Broderbund released the computer game Myst on September 24, 1993, and later was honored for being one of the most popular, well known, and sold IBM compatible and Apple Macintosh title.
1993 On September 27, 1993, Time Magazine released its magazine with the cover dedicated to video games with the title "Attack of the Video Games".
1993 The PC game DOOM by id Software was released as shareware on December 10, 1993. The company encouraged people to distribute the game freely to others and the game was played by about 10 million people in the first two years of its release. Its success resulted in multiple sequels and a 44th top video game of all time ranking by IGN. Today, DOOM is thought of as a turning point for first-person shooters and for computer games in general.
1994 The first Elder Scrolls game, titled "The Elder Scrolls: Arena," was released in March 1994 by Bethesda Softworks. Initially, the release is nearly a disaster, including late release and misleading packaging. Despite this and sour reviews by critics, copies of the game continue to sell, marking the beginning of a successful series of games and earning it recognition as a cult hit. Matt Barton, a game historian, is quoted as saying "the game set a new standard for this type of CRPG."
1994 LucasArts released Star Wars: TIE Fighter in July 1994. Sequel to the Star Wars: X-Wing game, the game features improvements over its predecessor and earns it multiple awards, including "Best Game of the Year" by Strategy Plus. It also makes it into the Computer Gaming World and IGN hall of fame. PC Gamer ranks it #1 in its list of the 50 Greatest Games of All Time in May 1997. IGN also ranks #3 in its list of the top 25 PC games ever in 2007 and #2 in 2009.
1994 WarCraft is released in November 1994 and is the start of a very successful franchise of games for Blizzard Entertainment. The popularity of the game, as well as its story, fuel the release of several sequels, including WarCraft 2, WarCraft 3, and World of Warcraft. It also inspired a series of books, toys, and even a trading card game.
1994 Sony released the PlayStation console gaming system in Japan on December 3, 1994, and later in North America on September 9, 1995. The PlayStation system is the first gaming system to sell over 100 million units, selling a total of over 102 million units within 10 years of being released.
1995 The first E3 was held in Las Vegas, Nevada.
1995 Command & Conquer was released by Westwood Studios on August 31, 1995, and was one of the earliest real-time strategy games. It is released for multiple platforms, including the PC, Mac, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and Sega Saturn. Its popularity and success is considered to be the reason for the popularity of the real-time strategy game genre in general. The Command & Conquer series was awarded with six world records in the Guinness Book of World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008, including "Biggest Selling RTS Series".
1995 The Need for Speed was released for the PC on August 31, 1995 by Electronic Arts. Need for Speed is the start to a very successful franchise of NFS (Need for Speed) games, with a total of 19 games released for the PC as of October 30, 2012. NFS games are also available on gaming consoles, like PlayStation and Xbox. Some of the games are even available for the iOS and Android mobile platform.
1996 The game Duke Nukem 3D was released on January 29, 1996. It is considered one of the most important video games ever due to its continued popularity even today and for its influence on modern video games.
1996 id Software released Quake, the successor to their Doom game series, on June 22, 1996. Offering full real-time 3D rendering and 3D acceleration through OpenGL, Quake gained popularity among first-person shooter fans, especially with the online multiplayer gaming modes.
1996 The first Tomb Raider game was released on October 25, 1996, by Eidos. The main character, Lara Croft, is inducted into the Walk of Game and recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Most Successful Human Virtual Game Heroine." The Tomb Raider game series is popular enough to influence the release of two movies as well, which gross over $430 million worldwide.
1996 Blizzard Entertainment released Diablo for the macOS on November 30, 1996, and the PC on December 31, 1996. Its popularity and excellent gameplay earns it the Game of the Year award from GameSpot. As of April 3, 2013, Diablo sits in the #1 spot on GameSpot's list of all PC games by score, with a 9.6 out of 10.
1997 The MMORPG (massively multiplayer role-playing game) UO (Ultima Online) was released on September 24, 1997.
1997 Grand Theft Auto was released for the PC in October 1997 by Rockstar Games. The game launches a very popular and highly successful franchise totaling 14 games across multiple platforms as of April 2010. These platforms include the PC, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox, Xbox 360, iOS, and Android. As of September 2011, over 114 million copies of various Grand Theft Auto games have been sold.
1997 Age of Empires was released on October 15, 1997 by Ensemble Studios. The game becomes very popular, selling over 20 million copies worldwide. Its success results in the release of several sequels, a spin-off game series titled Age of Mythology and a port to the Nintendo DS for two game releases. It is also credited with influencing other real-time strategy games like Rise of Nations and Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds.
1997 The Curse of Monkey Island was released on October 31, 1997 by LucasArts. Like its predecessors, The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, the game received great reviews and high ratings. It was also nominated in the first annual Interactive Achievement Awards for Computer Adventure Game of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Art/Graphics.
1997 Id Software released the much anticipated Quake II game. Considered by many to be the most popular game in 1998, over one million copies are sold by 2007. Some modifications are made available for download to Quake II players, including a learning bot system that learned as they went and increased game play difficulty.
1998 StarCraft was released by Blizzard Entertainment for the PC on March 31, 1998, and for the Mac in 1999. Selling over 11 million copies by 2009, the game is said to have been an important step in the development of real-time strategy games, raising the bar for the gaming industry.
1998 Unreal was developed by Epic MegaGames and released on May 22, 1998, by GT Interactive. The game is credited by helping to popularize the Unreal graphics engine, which still is being used today with DirectX and OpenGL for graphics rendering.
1998 Valve Corporation released Half-Life, a popular FPS game, on November 19, 1998. As of July 2007, over 20 million copies of all Half-Life series games have been sold worldwide.
1998 Baldur's Gate was released by Interplay Entertainment on November 30, 1998. The first in a series of role-playing games, it sells over 2 million copies worldwide as of 2008. It is credited with helping to revive the RPG genre and PC Gamer is quoted as saying the game "sets new standards for those to come."
1999 The popular MMORPG (massively multiplayer role-playing game) EQ (EverQuest) was released on March 16, 1999. The game launches one of the most successful MMORPG series, which includes 19 expansions as of November 2012. The game has over 450,000 subscribers by September 25, 2003.
1999 Counter-Strike was developed as a modification to the Half-Life game and released as a mod on June 19, 1999. Valve Corporation purchased the rights to Counter-Strike and released it as a store-bought game on November 8, 2000. The game grows popular quickly and develops into a franchise of games, selling over 27 million copies as of August 2011.
1999 Age of Empires II was released on September 30, 1999 by Ensemble Studios. Successor to the original Age of Empires game, it receives high ratings from nearly all the major gaming magazine and critics, including a 92% from GameRankings and Metacritic. In 2007, IGN ranked it the 10th best computer game of all time.
1999 Unreal Tournament, also called UT99, was released on November 30, 1999, for the PC, featuring deathmatch, capture the flag, last man standing gameplay modes. It was given high praises for its great graphics, gameplay, and multiplayer gaming features.
2000 Electronic Arts released The Sims on February 4, 2000. The game becomes one of the best-selling PC games in history, selling over 16 million copies worldwide. The game's success earns it five records in the Guinness world records: Gamer's Edition 2008.
2000 Sony released the PlayStation 2 console gaming system, also known as the PS2, in Japan on March 4, 2000, and in North America on October 25, 2000. As of March 31, 2012, about 155 million units are sold globally, making it the best selling game console system of all time. The PlayStation 2 also has the largest game library available for any game console, with 3,857 games.
2000 Deus Ex was released on June 26, 2000 by Eidos Interactive. Despite a few flaws in the game and very large saved game data files, the game ranks highly on many game lists, including Top 25 PC Games of All Time and 100 Greatest Games of All Time. It also ranks #1 on PC Gamer's 100 Best PC Games in February 2011. Over one million copies of the game are sold worldwide by April 23, 2009.
2000 Blizzard Entertainment released Diablo 2 for the PC on June 29, 2000, and the Mac on July 26, 2000. The game sells over a million copies in its first two weeks, won several awards, including many Game of the Year awards.
2000 Escape from Monkey Island was released on November 8, 2000 by LucasArts. The fourth game in the Monkey Island game series, it was the last adventure game to be released by LucasArts. At the 2000 E3 Game Critics Awards, it was named the Best Action/Adventure Game. While it received less favorable reviews than the previous three games in the series, the game is still popular in the gaming community.
2001 Bejeweled was first released on May 30, 2001, by PopCap Games as an Internet browser-based game. It is later released for other platforms, such as Xbox, Palm OS, iOS, Windows Phone, and Facebook. As of March 2008, over 75 million copies of the game are sold and it has been downloaded over 150 million times.
2001 Max Payne, a third-person shooter video game, was released for the PC on July 23, 2001 by Gathering of Developers. The game has an excellent reception and receives multiple awards for Best PC Game, Best Game 2001, Best Graphics in a Game, Best Computer Game of the Year, Editor's Choice, and others. Two sequels are released in 2003 and 2012, and in total, the game series has sold more than 7.5 million copies worldwide.
2001 Microsoft released the original Xbox game console on November 15, 2001. By May 1996, over 24 million consoles are sold worldwide, with 16 million of those sold in North America alone.
2001 Bungie released the game Halo for the Xbox gaming system on November 15, 2001, launching the start of a multi-billion dollar video game franchise. The Halo series experiences unprecedented success, including multiple game sequels and expansion to other markets, like books, toys, clothing and even television and web video series. It is hailed as one of the best first-person shooter games for video game consoles.
2002 The first Medal of Honor game for the computer, titled "Medal of Honor: Allied Assault," was released on January 22, 2002, by EA Games. The third release in the Medal of Honor game series and the first of three releases for the PC and Mac, it receives a 91% rating from GameRankings and a 91/100 from Metacritic.
2002 Battlefield 1942 was released by Electronic Arts on September 10, 2002. Battlefield 1942 is the beginning of a very successful franchise, spanning 25 different Battlefield games and expansions, and sells over 50 million copies of all those games combined.
2002 Unreal Tournament 2003, also called UT2003, was released on October 1, 2002, by Epic Games and Atari, Inc. Over one million downloads were made of the game's, setting a record for most downloads of a game demo. The popularity of the game and superiority of the game engine resulted in the game engine being licensed for use in other games, including Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six games and Splinter Cell.
2003 Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell was released for the PC on February 19, 2003, by Ubisoft and was well received in the gaming community. Its popularity helps to drive the release of five more games in the series as of 2010, with a sixth slated for release in 2013. As of June 2010, over 22 million copies of the game series have been sold worldwide.
2003 The game Second Life was released on June 23, 2003 by Linden Research, Inc. Designed as a virtual world, players can interact with the virtual environment and other players through the use of an avatar. At its height in 2008, the game had over 88,000 concurrent players online. In 2009, the game's total economy was about $567 million.
2003 Valve Corporation introduced Steam on September 12, 2003. As of December 2012, nearly 200 games are available for download and to play and Steam has about 54 million active user accounts.
2003 The first game in the Call of Duty series was released on October 29, 2003. The game's popularity pushes Infinity Ward to release sequels in three story arcs, being World War II, Modern Warfare, and Black Ops. Within eight years the series of games has sold over 100 million copies worldwide and boasts 40 million active players.
2003 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was released for the computer on November 19, 2003 by LucasArts. It is named Game of the Year by IGN, Computer Gaming world, PC Gamer, Game Developers Choice Awards and G4. It was also ranked #3 on IGN's list of the Best Games of the Decade (2000-2009). It is also recognized as "one of the most influential works of the Star Wars Expanded Universe" by the Los Angeles Times.
2004 Far Cry was released by Ubisoft on March 23, 2004. It sells about 730,000 copies worldwide in the first four months after its release, helping launch a successful series for the PC and game consoles. The game also has a website dedicated to it (
2004 Half-Life 2 was released by Valve Corporation on November 16, 2004. Successor to the original Half-Life game, over 12 million copies of the game are sold by February 2011. The game wins 39 "Game of the Year" awards and is also named "Game of the Decade" by several magazines publishers and at the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards.
2004 Blizzard's World of Warcraft game, the most popular and successful MMORPG, was released on November 23, 2004. As of April 2008, 62% of all MMORPG game subscriptions worldwide are tied to World of Warcraft. At its peak in October 2010, the game has over 12 million subscribers worldwide.
2005 Guild Wars was released by NCsoft on April 26, 2005. Guild Wars does not require a subscription to play, but instead players purchase episodes, providing unlimited online play for that episode. By April 2009, NCsoft reports that about six million copies of the game have been sold worldwide.
2005 Microsoft released the Xbox 360, the second generation of their popular game console on November 16, 2005. Over 70 million of the consoles are sold worldwide by September 30, 2012.
2006 Sony released the PlayStation 3 console gaming system, also known as the PS3, in Japan on November 11, 2006, and released in North America and Europe shortly after. As of November 4, 2012, about 70 million units are sold globally.
2006 Garry's Mod was made available on Steam, November 29, 2006.
2006 Nintendo released the Wii gaming console system in North America on November 19, 2006, and in Japan on December 2, 2006. As of December 31, 2012, over 99 million units are sold globally. The Wii is the first gaming system to allow games for previous systems to be downloaded and played on it.
2006 Crysis was released for the PC on November 13, 2007, published by Electronic Arts. The game receives excellent ratings, including a 98% rating by PC Gamer magazine, making it one of the highest rated games ever in that magazine. By May 2010, over 3 million copies are sold worldwide, making it one of the best selling PC games ever. Crysis is also one of the most pirated games in 2007, as reported by TorrentFreak.
2007 Portal was released by Valve Corporation on October 9, 2007. Available through Valve's Steam and as a standalone product, the game wins many awards, including Game of the Year, Best Puzzle Game for PC, and Most Innovative Design. Time magazine also includes the game in its list of 100 greatest video games of all time in November 2012. Wired also recognized Portal as one of the most influential games of the 21st century.
2008 Electronic Arts and Demiurge Studios released Mass Effect for the PC on May 28, 2008. It ranks #3 on the chart for Windows PC games at release and scores a 92% rating from PC Zone and a 91% from PC Gamer US. The game is also released for the Xbox 360 and is named "Game of the Year" by The New York Times.
2009 The Minecraft game was released for Android OS devices on October 7, 2011, iOS devices on November 17, 2011, and for PCs on November 18, 2011. As of January 22, 2103, over 20 million copies of the game are sold.
2009 Borderlands was released for the PC on October 26, 2009, and for the Mac on December 3, 2010. A role-playing FPS game, Borderlands is a near instant hit, selling over two million copies by December 2009 and as of August 2011, over 4.5 million copies are sold. IGN includes the game in its list of Top 100 Modern Video Games in late 2011.
2010 StarCraft 2 was released by Blizzard Entertainment on July 27, 2010, twelve years after the release of its popular and successful predecessor, StarCraft. The game sells over 3 million copies in the first month of release, becoming the fastest selling real-time strategy game ever at the time.
2011 Trion Worlds entered the MMORPG market by releasing Rift on March 1, 2011. As of August 2011, it reports that one million users are playing the game and receives many awards, including "Best New Online Game" at the 2011 Game Developers Conference. IGN also recognizes the game as the "Best PC Persistent World/MMO Game of 2011".
2011 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, or more commonly called Skyrim, was released by Bethesda Softworks in November 2011. During the first few weeks of release, over 7 million copies of the game are shipped to retailers. It is also the fastest selling game on Valve Corporation's Steam platform, with a reported 5 million users logging in to play the game as of January 2, 2012.
2011 SWTOR (Star Wars: The Old Republic) was released by Electronic Arts and LucasArts on December 20, 2011. Within three days of release, the game has about one million subscribers, making it the "fastest-growing MMO ever". Subscription numbers decline in the months after and the game switches to a free-to-play model. In February 2012, MSNBC names SWTOR the Game of the Year.
2012 Blizzard Entertainment released Diablo 3 for the PC and Mac on May 15, 2012, setting another record by selling 3.5 million copies in the first 24 hours of release. The third game in the Diablo series added a much-anticipated auction house, allowing players to sell gear, items and gold to other players for in-game gold and real currency.

Computer History