Video Games

11 Longest Running Video Game Franchises of All Time

Few companies have been able to sustain their franchises through the unpredictable market changes of games over the last 50 years. As mediums move from arcades to living rooms and tastes shift with technology, only a handful of franchises from the early days of gaming have survived.

Below, we’ve rounded up the franchises that have stood the test of time longer than any other. These are the 11 longest-running* video game series of all time.

*To be eligible for this list, franchises must contain content currently in development or released within the last five years. This list only includes franchises that originated as games. Long-term licensed series such as Spider-Man, Indiana Jones and Star Wars are thus excluded.

11. Microsoft Flight Simulator – 41 Years

First release: Microsoft Flight Simulator (1982)

Latest release: Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 (2024)

Twenty years before Microsoft launched the Xbox business, the company entered the gaming market as a software developer for early home computers. The first batch of games had Microsoft Flight Simulator, the first in the still-running aviation simulation series.

After a dozen releases, Flight Sim is back in mainstream popularity in 2020. Microsoft Flight Simulator, the first game in the series to be released on consoles. IGN reviewer Seth Macy gave the game his review score of 10, calling it “the most awe-inspiring simulation”. [he’s] Never experienced before. “

Next up is Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024, announced at the recent Xbox Games Showcase.

10. Wolfenstein – Year 42

First release: Castle Wolfenstein (1981)

Latest release: Wolfenstein: Cyber ​​Pilot (2019)

Wolfenstein began as a stealth-focused arcade game with the release of Castle Wolfenstein in September 1981. The series has gone through several development teams and publishers throughout its 42-year existence. These include stops at id Software (1992’s Wolfenstein 3D) and Activision (2001’s Return to Castle Wolfenstein to his 2009 Wolfenstein).

For the past decade, viewers have known Wolfenstein as the World War II first-person shooter series developed by Bethesda’s MachineGames. Since 2014, the studio has produced five of his Wolfenstein films: The New Order (2014), The Old Blood (2015), The New Colossus (2017), Youngblood (2019) and the VR game Cyber ​​pilot (2019). I created a game.

Read the full guide Wolfenstein game timeline.

9. Donkey Kong – Year 42

First release: Donkey Kong (1981)

Latest release: Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze (2018)

Although it never quite reached the heights of Mario and Zelda, Donkey Kong is Nintendo’s longest-running video game series, debuting as an arcade game in July 1981.

Donkey Kong acted as an antagonist in the original arcade game, throwing barrels at the playable characters from the top of a construction site where he took Lady (Pauline) hostage. That playable character was Jumpman, who would later become known as Mario.

The franchise has found most of its success with Donkey Kong Country, a series of 2D platform games, but has also pioneered the racing (Diddy Kong Racing), rhythm (Donkey Kong) and 3D platforming (Donkey Kong 3D) genres. I’m here.

8. Frogger – Age 42

First release: Frogger (1981)

Latest release: Frogger and the Ruins of the Ruins (2022)

Frogger has survived 40 years of video games and has outlived all but seven series in video game history. Over 30 Frogger games have been released since the franchise debuted in arcades in June 1981.

Konami created the original Frogger and continues to develop new games for the franchise, most recently with the 2022 Apple Arcade exclusive Frogger and the Rumble Ruins.

7. Missile Command – 43

First release: Missile Command (1980)

Latest release: Missile Command: Recharge (2022)

Missile Command is a missile defense shooter developed by Atari from the golden age of arcade games. Like any other arcade game on this list, Missile Command has seen numerous re-releases, sequels and spin-offs over the last 40 years.

The latest version of Missile Command: Recharged adds new power-ups and enemies, a new soundtrack and co-op features.

6. Pac-Man – Age 43

First release: Pac-Man (1980)

Latest release: Pac-Man World Repack (2022)

Shortly before Missile Command, Pac-Man entered Japanese arcades as Pac-Man. (It is said that the name was changed prior to its US release in the late 1980s due to possible vandalism by “Puck”.)

The loop of the original game (guiding Pac-Man through a maze of dots while avoiding ghost gangs) has been tweaked and expanded upon with subsequent variations released over the past 43 years. Notable successors include 1982’s Ms. His Pac-Man and Super Pac-Man, 1984’s Pac-Land, 1999’s Pac-Man World, 2010’s Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, and 2015’s Pac-Man 256. pacman 99 In 2021.

The latest release in the franchise is Pac-Man World Repack, a 2022 remake of the aforementioned 1999 3D platformer.

5. Asteroid – 44 years

First release: Asteroid (1979)

Latest release: Asteroid: Recharge (2021)

The first of three consecutive arcade space shooters to appear on this list, Asteroids is Atari’s response to Space Invaders, which released a year ago to unprecedented success in Japan. Asteroids also had immediate success, especially in the United States.

Since then, Atari has released several sequels, spinoffs and ports. Most notably Asteroids: Recharged, described as a modern reimagining of the original arcade game.

4. Galaxian/Galaga – 44 years

First release: Galaxian (1979)

Latest release: Galaga Wars+ (2021)

Namco’s first arcade shooter was Galaxian, the predecessor to the more popular space shooter Galaga. Similarly responding to the popularity of Space Invaders, Galaxian was released in Japan two months before Asteroid’s in the US. Its success led to the release of a sequel, Galaga, two years later.

Since then, over 20 Galaxian/Galaga games have been released on arcades, consoles and mobile phones. His latest, Galaga Wars+, is out for his Apple Arcade in 2021.

3. Space Invaders – 45 Years

First release: Space Invaders (1978)

Latest release: Space Invaders: World Defense (2023)

Before Asteroid and Galaxian, Tomohiro Nishikado pioneered the era of fixed shooters with his ingenious shooter Space Invaders. It was an instant hit in arcades and skyrocketed in popularity two years later when that console port became the killer app for his Atari 2600.

Space Invaders has inspired countless arcade shooters in its wake, but Japanese publisher Taito has released more than 30 spin-offs and sequels. The company recently collaborated with Google to create an AR game, Space Invaders: World Defense, due for release later this summer.

2. Pong – Age 51

First release: Pong (1972)

Latest release: Ponquest (2020)

Atari’s first-ever video game became the company’s longest-running series and one of only two game franchises to last over 50 years.

This iconic table tennis inspired game was one of the first arcade games ever released. It is considered the first commercially successful video game and as such is considered the catalyst for the entire video game industry.

Atari recently released Pong Quest, which they describe as a “Pong-themed dungeon crawling RPG.”

1. Oregon Trail – ’52

First release: Oregon Trail (1971)

Latest release: Oregon Trail: Boom Town (2023)

The oldest active series in the gaming industry, The Oregon Trail is a series of strategy adventure games originally developed for educational purposes. Although later versions integrated the graphics, the 1971 original was an entirely text-based film intended to simulate the experiences of his 19th-century pioneer traveling from Mississippi to Oregon. It was a game.

Created as a supplement to middle school history classes, the Oregon Trail debuted in one classroom in Minnesota. It was made available to additional schools in Minnesota in 1975, ported to Apple II computers in 1978, and later updated and released commercially in 1985. The franchise currently includes dozens of ports, sequels, reimaginings and spin-offs.

The latest is The Oregon Trail: Boom Town, a free-to-play farmville-inspired mobile game. Fans of the original game, however, may be more interested in 2021’s The Oregon Trail, which turns the original text adventure into a graphically vibrant choose-your-own-adventure. This reimagining is available on Switch, PC and Apple Arcade.

Jordan is a freelance writer for IGN covering games, shows and movies.

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