Top 10 Longest Running Video Game Franchises

Script written by Garrett Alden These are the video game franchises that keep going and going and going and going...Welcome to http://WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Longest Running Video Game Franchises. Special thanks to our user “John Lawrence” for suggesting this topic using our interactive suggestion tool at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Longest-Running Video Game Franchises

These video games have staying power. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our list of the top 10 longest-running video game franchises.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the video game franchises that have been putting out games for the most amount of time, with the few big gaps between releases, so age and consistent output will both be important. The games also cannot be rereleases, remakes, or rip-offs; so a lot of simple games, such as “Tetris,” that have been redone to death, won’t be on our list.

#10: “Street Fighter” (1987-)

“Street Fighter” set the bar for arcade-style fighting games and has been doing so for going on 30 years now. While its second installment has seen more remakes than every superhero movie combined, and there have been a couple of dry spells in the main series’ release schedule, “Street Fighter” is one of the most popular and long-running fighting game franchises of all time, with many side series and spin-offs, including the successful “Marvel Vs. Capcom” franchise, and even puzzle games, all of which helped ensure it a spot on our list.

#9: “Metal Gear” (1987-)

Hideo Kojima’s beloved Stealth Action franchise began with the titular game, which came out on the MSX2, a computer console, before being ported to the NES. The series didn’t really take off until “Metal Gear Solid,” for the Playstation however, which codified its staple mix of attention to detail, over-the-top elements, and cinematic cutscenes, the last of which helped popularize the practice. Since then, the franchise has expanded on its wheelhouse with spin-off titles that switch up its formula, while also refining and expanding upon what made fans flock to it in the first place.

#8: “Final Fantasy” (1987-)

Ironically, this game series derives its name from the fact that the developers were having a rough time financially. Time, and countless sequels and spin-off later, has made the title increasingly inaccurate. There’s no mistaking the “Final Fantasy” series’ success though, as the franchise has become a paragon of the RPG genre, with its characters, music, and time-tested gameplay all becoming iconic in the industry. Despite its vaunted position as one of the most influential and long-running RPG franchises of all time, there is another franchise that has been around longer though.

#7: “Dragon Quest” (1986-)

This series, while not as popular globally as “Final Fantasy,” is even older and, arguably, even more influential on RPG video games. Originally known in the West as “Dragon Warrior,” “Dragon Quest”’s effect on gaming in Japan is tremendous, to the point that the franchise is considered by some to be the country’s national game. It’s so popular in fact, that it became the first video game to be adapted into a ballet! The secret to its success may be that the franchise’s gameplay and feel have remained relatively consistent for most of its long run, making it appealing to new players and seasoned veterans.

#6: “The Legend of Zelda” (1986-)

This is one franchise we wouldn't want to go long without! While Nintendo's other popular franchise Metroid has been going since the same year, “The Legend of Zelda” games have been the more regular mainstay of Nintendo consoles for over thirty years, with entries appearing on every major platform that the company has put out, and at a steady pace. Moreover, the series is renowned for being some of the most high quality adventure games ever created, with unforgettable characters, stellar music, and engaging gameplay; all of which have caused several of the franchise entries to consistently top critics’ “best game of all time” lists. And with “Breath of the Wild” spearheading the Nintendo Switch, Zelda’s legend will continue to be the benchmark for adventuring.

#5: “Carmen Sandiego” (1985-)

Who knew an educational game series could make geography so awesome? While some might equate them to elaborate, gender-swapped games of “Where’s Waldo,” the “Carmen Sandiego” games have been going strong for longer than a lot of people realize, probably because most of them are only exposed to the games when they’re still in school. Even so, the appeal of flying all over the world to find the elusive, crimson-suited villainess has been enough to entertain and educate generations of kids and even spawned several TV series.

#4: “Wolfenstein” (1981-)

Here’s another franchise that’s much older than most people probably know. The series began with “Castle Wolfenstein,” a game originally released for the Apple II, based around shooting Nazis and navigating the eponymous castle. The franchise really hit its stride though with “Wolfenstein 3D,” which helped define the first person shooter genre in the early ‘90s, and games since then have refined the gameplay and concepts laid out there, while also including some interesting spin-offs, such as an RPG mobile game. The primary goal of the series, fighting the Third Reich, hasn’t changed though.

#3: “Mario” (1981-)

You know the pedigree is heavy on a video game list when “Mario” only makes it to third place. The world’s most adventurous plumber has become the definitive mascot for video games, thanks to the sheer volume of titles in the franchise that bears his name, as well as their consistent quality; appearing in everything from platformers, to party games, to kart racing; helping to define practically every genre he touches. If we were going only by game output alone, “Mario” probably would have topped our list, but age is also a factor, and our next entry predates “Mario” games, even if it doesn’t predate the character.

#2: “Donkey Kong” (1981-)

If “Mario” is the fire, then “Donkey Kong” was the match, introducing Nintendo’s golden boy in the game as Jump Man. Since then, the two franchises have overlapped a bit, with the tie-sporting ape appearing in a number of “Mario” games and vice-versa. But make no mistake: DK has burned quite the swath of his own over the years. Along with the original arcade platformers, Donkey Kong has also starred in the critically acclaimed, and graphically revolutionary, “Donkey Kong Country” series, as well as spin-offs in genres as diverse as kart racing and rhythm games. This Kong may not be “king,” but his franchise does stand tall in the video game world.

#1: “Pac-Man” (1980-)

All three of our top entries are franchises that grew out of arcade games, and while “Pac-Man” may not have had quite the degree of success as the last two, it has undeniable seniority and has consistently put out games for almost 40 years now. The yellow, pellet-munching protagonist has evolved to a surprising degree over time, gaining a more humanoid form, entering three dimensions, and expanding his repertoire with more diverse games, like the obligatory kart racer and party games. All in all, we found the “Pac-Man” franchise to be gaming’s most enduring, which is how it got our top spot.
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