Posted by Matthew Bailey @MatthewBailey
I'm a total nerd, at least that's what my wife says. I'm happily married with 2 nerd-to-be sons. Avid gamer and movie lover.
Matthew Bailey

Leaving a legacy is something that every game developer hopes to find when they introduce a new character or game in general. If a game is playable and has truly relatable characters, then it's more likely to have a legacy and a fan-base that wants more. A legacy game brings staying power to the developer and allow them to introduce future iterations and new games as well.

Creating a gaming legacy isn't as easy as it sounds either, several developers have tried to introduce us to games that they thought were going to be THE next new thing. Just look at some of the games that vanished after 1 or 2 releases that were supposed to be HUGE: Homefront, Beyond: Two Souls, APB: All Points Bulletin and Too Human.

Now, granted these games weren't terrible per-say, but they weren't genre-defining, legacy-forming games either. It seems to be that it's nearly impossible to gauge what will stick and why, but there are franchises that have figured it out and have proven that with the right concept and exposure they can last the test of time. Here are 8 franchises that have proved their legacy, and in some cases are still building one.

1. Mario (500+ Million in sales)

First appeared in 1981

You can't really have a list of gaming franchises that leave a legacy without everyone's favorite red-suited character. Mario is best known for his long series of platformers, but has ventured into nearly every possible gaming genres from racing to role-playing and even into several different sports. Mario has appeared in other media as well, including 3 animated television series, comics, manga, film and various other merchandise. It's easy to see why he tops the list as the greatest franchise of all time.

2. Pokemon (275+ Million in sales)

First appeared in 1996

Pokemon is a franchise that swept the world quickly and has found itself perched high atop the franchise gaming label. The Pokemon franchise, if you're unaware, consists of a main character who becomes a trainer of these creatures known as Pokemon. He trains them to fight in his (or her) effort to become a Pokemon Master. The main series of games follow a basic RPG layout where you have a collection of 6 Pokemon that each have different abilities and you must level them up to grow stronger. Pokemon has become the go-to game for Nintendo's collection of handheld systems, but they have also crossed over into countless other media ventures: anime (television series and film), manga, console games, and a trading card game.

3. Call of Duty (250+ Million in sales)

First appeared in 2003

Probably the most divisive franchise ever, Call of Duty boasts one of the largest community of fans and players, which in and of itself makes the franchise worthy of this list. Originally the FPS (First Person Shooter) began as a Windows desktop game before expanding to consoles and handhelds. The Call of Duty franchise has grown nearly out of control once it hit consoles and allowed players around the world to compete against each other. Along with the multiplayer facet of the franchise, Call of Duty boasts several arching stories that have introduced various aspect of militaristic combat. Outside of the games themselves, Call of Duty has expanded into a six-part comic series, a card game, two short films and a major film cinematic universe.

4. Grand Theft Auto (225+ Million in sales)

First appeared in 1997

GTA is the most successful open-world game series ever. Over the course of nearly a dozen different games, the concept has remained the same: take your character through the city in an attempt to rise through the ranks of the criminal underworld all the while staying a step ahead of the authorities and the games various antagonists. GTA encompasses nearly every act of criminality that you can imagine: assassination, violence, theft (minor and grand), prostitution and as you engage in the illegal activities you become more of a wanted criminal which in turn makes the police more dedicated to stopping you.

5. Need For Speed (150+ Million in sales)

First appearing in 1994

Originally released for the 3DO, it was quickly followed with ports to the PC as well as the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn. Although some players have complained about the lack of realism while driving, the numbers prove it to be the greatest selling racing game ever. In the last 20 years, NFS has released nearly two dozen different iterations on various platforms that have allowed players to drive classic cars as well as craft their own customized tuner. The franchise has evolved over the years and has begun including other media platforms such as the feature film released in 2014.

6. Sonic The Hedgehog (140+ Million in sales)

First appeared in 1991

Another game franchise that defined a console, similarly to Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog was the mascot for the various Sega systems for a dozen years before making the shift and joining the other systems through the years. Sonic has become a true franchise that encompasses a large assortment of media outlets including: several animated television series, an appearance in Disney's Wreck-It Ralph, an announced solo film in 2018, a comic book series and a wide assortment of games.

7. Final Fantasy (110+ Million in sales)

First appeared in 1987

The media franchise created in 1987 swept the world in a similar fashion as Pokemon did. There are over a dozen primary games in the franchise along with several spin-offs, and in general, is known as having some of the best RPG games in history. The Final Fantasy games are self-contained entities and each tell a different story, so it's not necessary to play the previously released game to understand the newest game. Along with the numerous games, the Final Fantasy empire has expanded into multiple anime and CGI-based films, several novels and unique manga tales.

8. Lego (100+ Million in sales)

First appeared in 1997

Now, if we were to include the entire Lego empire (prior to the game releases), they would surely be the top selling franchise in the universe. But in terms of gaming, Lego trails in comparison to the rest of the franchises above. Yet in less than 20 years, there are have an astounding 64 video games released based on the little construction blocks. Lego has joined forces with some of the most popular movie franchises lately and released games such as: Lego Star Wars, Lego Indiana Jones, Lego Batman, Lego Harry Potter, Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, Lego Marvel and many more which have aided in Lego's growth and success. The Lego franchise has even ventured into feature films with the successful The Lego Movie and it's expected sequel.

Whether you've played one of these franchise games, they've all definitely left a legacy and most likely we'll continue to see new games and media based off of them for years to come.


Which is your favorite game franchise?