Blizzard Entertainment releases the massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft. World of Warcraft is currently the most popular online game in history.
Nintendo releases the Wii game console to compete with the Sony Playstation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360. By forgoing raw computing power for increased player interaction utilizing the innovative motion-sensitive “Wiimote” controller, the Wii defied expectations and became the best-selling seventh-generation game console.
Nintendo releases the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in New York and limited other North American markets. An immediate hit, Nintendo released the game nationwide in February 1986. Along with the NES, Nintendo released eighteen games that day, including: 10-Yard Fight, Baseball, Clu Clu Land, Donkey Kong Jr. Math, Duck Hunt, Excitebike, Golf, Gyromite, Hogan’s Alley, Ice Climber, Kung Fu, Mach Rider, Pinball, Stack-Up, Tennis, Wild Gunman, Wrecking Crew, and Super Mario Bros.
William Higinbotham and Robert Dvorak, Sr. show off a tennis simulator game they called Tennis for Two. Developed on a Donner Model 30 analog computer using an oscilloscope, it is the first known electronic game to use a graphical display. Higinbotham and Dvorak developed the game to show off to visitors to the Brookhaven National Laboratory where they worked. The game was only shown off twice, during the laboratory’s annual visitor’s day. While hundreds of visitors lined up to play the game when it was made available, little was known about the game for decades. While somewhat similar in gameplay to the later hit Pong, there is no known direct relationship between the games.
Namco officially transfers rights to Midway for distribution of the games Pac-Mac and Rally-X in North America. While the exact date that Pac-Man started shipping to arcades in North America is currently unknown, most sources cite October of 1980. The Japanese release under the name “Puck-Man” had occurred in May of 1980, however this date is important because the game’s popularity didn’t fully take off until being released in the United States. Pac-Man will become the first true mega-hit video game in history, sparking “Pac-Man Fever” and catapulting the video game industry into mainstream culture.
The video game Mortal Kombat is released into arcades. Now one of the most popular fighting game series in history, the original Mortal Kombat became well-known for its graphic display of blood and deadly finishing moves known as “fatalities”. As often happens in situations like these, the controversy surrounding the game only served to fuel its popularity.
I remember the game becoming popular on the heels of Street Fighter II. I never really liked the game because I felt it was all flash and no substance. And the martial arts techniques portrayed were often really bad. But it was occasionally fun to knock someone’s head off.
Atari releases their Video Computer System (known as the VCS and later as the Atari 2600). It took two years for the VCS to gain traction, but by 1979 it was the best selling gift of the Christmas season. Once it was established, the Atari VCS took the market by storm, popularized home video gaming, and helped cement the video game movement into mainstream culture.
August 22, 1987
The Legend of Zelda is released for the NES in North America. Considered one of the most influential games of all time, it was the forerunner of the role-playing video game genre and spawned one of the most successful series in video games history.
August 13, 1993
Capcom releases Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting for the Super NES in the US. The Street Fighter II arcade game started the fighting game boom of the 1990’s, which spawned off other many other fighting game franchises such as Mortal Kombat and Virtua Fighter. The Super NES version brought Street Fighter II into the home and … um … college dorms where certain people spent many hours smacking down their dorm mates.
I still have this game so if anyone is feeling saucy, the smack downs can resume at any time.
July 17, 1970
Ralph Baer demonstrates the video game system he invented, simply called the “Brown Box”, to Magnavox engineering, production, and marketing management in Ft Wayne, IN. Previously Baer had demoed the Brown Box to many other TV manufacturers including RCA, GE, Zenith, Sylvania, and Magnavox themselves without any licensing agreements. A licensing agreement with RCA was written but cancelled in March of that year. It was this demo with Magnavox’s VP of Marketing present that would eventually lead to creation of the first home video game system, the Magnavox Odyssey, and the birth of the video game industry.