There’s something very satisfying about celebrating the anniversaries of our favorite gaming franchises. They serve as reminders to pause and look back to see just how far games have come in just a few decades.
In 2023, we’ll be recognizing big milestone anniversaries for several major gaming franchises as well as a handful of individual games that have had a significant impact on the industry. Specifically, many of our favorites are turning 10, 25, 35, and even 45 years old in 2023. It certainly makes our bones hurt, and it will for you, too.
Here are 12 big video game anniversaries happening in 2023 to make you feel old.
The Last of Us
The conversation surrounding The Last of Us never really has a chance to slow down, and it’s for good reason. Since it was released ten years ago, back in 2013, the game has stayed relevant through DLC, a sequel, two remasters, and now a brand new HBO series.
It’s no surprise that The Last of Us remained in the limelight for the past ten years since the game was so critically acclaimed for its story, gameplay, visuals, and more. This first entry with Joel and Ellie in what would later become a bigger media franchise won several “game of the year” accolades, sold over 17 million copies, and to this day, is considered among the best video games of all time.
Grand Theft Auto V
2023 marks 10 years since the last main entry in the Grand Theft Auto franchise was released. The game has managed to stay close to the top of the bestsellers list every single year since it launched; it is now the second best-selling video game of all time.
We already know that Grand Theft Auto VI is in development, and it’s going to have some big shoes to fill. It’ll still be some time before it releases, but maybe Rockstar will decide to tease something to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their biggest game.
Call of Duty
The very first Call of Duty game was released 20 years ago, in 2003, sparking what would become one of the biggest first-person shooter franchises in the world. It launched at a time when there were many other successful FPS games, such as DOOM, Quake, and Medal of Honor, but Call of Duty set itself apart by placing more emphasis on squad-based gameplay than its predecessors had.
This first installment simulated warfare from World War II, and subsequent entries in the franchise would focus on other wars throughout modern history. Call of Duty received high praise, and the series would go on to sell over 400 million games in total.
There has been a main series Call of Duty game every year since the very first one (with the exception of 2004, the year after the franchise debuted), so it would be unusual if there were not a new title in 2023. We’ll have to wait and see if there is anything special planned for the 20th anniversary.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Any Zelda fan that lived through the 1990s remembers turning on their Nintendo 64 and seeing Link’s transformation into 3D for the very first time. Ocarina of Time was a milestone for the Legend of Zelda franchise, and this year, the game turns 25 years old.
Today, the original version of Ocarina of Time can be played through the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack service, where fans can relive the nostalgia or perhaps play this classic for the first time. It’s unlikely that Nintendo will do anything too exciting to celebrate the game’s 25th anniversary, though, since Tears of the Kingdom is set to release this May.
Valve’s first-ever game, Half-Life, also turns 25 years old in 2023. Their debut game combined first-person combat with exploration, story-telling, and puzzle-solving to create one of the most innovative FPS games of its time.
Half-Life was received well by critics and fans with praise for its gameplay and scripted sequence narrative, and today it is considered to be one of the best games of all time. Valve built on its success with a sequel in 2004, and although fans never got the highly anticipated Half-Life 3, a virtual reality game called Half-Life: Alyx served as a story set in between the first two games.
Metal Gear Solid
Solid Snake made a grand return to the Metal Gear series in the franchise’s third main series outing, Metal Gear Solid. The series was already quite popular as one of the pioneers of the stealth genre, and Metal Gear Solid helped to, ahem, solidify that reputation.
The game was also highly praised for its cinematic cutscenes and cutting-edge voice acting for its time. Like many of the other games on this list, Metal Gear Solid is heralded as among the most important video games of all time, and its success allowed for sequels, spin-offs, and other related media to become possible over the years.
Spyro the Dragon
25 years ago, the lovable Spyro and his sidekick Sparx made their debut. Spyro the Dragon became one of the key platforming mascots on the PlayStation to compete with the popular rivals on the Nintendo 64. His charging and fire-breathing attacks, along with his ability to glide through the air, made the game fun for players of all ages but especially for children.
Over the years, the developing and publishing teams for the Spyro series has changed many times. The franchise was halted for nearly a decade until Activision and Toys for Bob revived it with Spyro Reignited Trilogy, remasters of the first three games.
There hasn’t been much on the horizon for a Spyro the Dragon 25th anniversary celebration, though current developer Toys for Bob recently teased plans for 2023 with a tiny pic of Spyro flying in the corner of an image. We’ll have to see if this is a tease for a new game, a guest appearance in another franchise, or perhaps nothing at all.
DOOM is another first-person shooter that helped revolutionize the genre, starting 30 years ago. In 1993, we were introduced to Doomguy, the space marine who would fight hordes of demons through various levels in hell. It became influential due to its 3D perspective graphics, multiplayer mode over an online network, and intense gameplay.
It’s been three years since the last game in the DOOM series, and developer id Software hasn’t shared what it is currently working on. It would be a great nod to fans to get a new game announcement to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the franchise in 2023.
The Star Fox franchise also turns 30 this year; this on-rails shooter starring Fox McCloud started way back on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and used the impressive Super FX chip to simulate a 3D effect. Regions outside of North America might know this game as Starwing.
The game was a hit, and Star Fox became a flagship series for Nintendo, with several other titles in the series over the years. Nintendo even released its canceled direct sequel for the SNES, Star Fox 2, in 2017.
It’s been quite some time since the last new Star Fox game was released. In fact, the most recent game was seven years ago. Star Fox’s 30th anniversary would be the perfect time to bring the series back with a new title on the Nintendo Switch.
Super Mario Bros. 3
All Mario fans know that Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the most cherished games in the franchise. It was bundled with many NES consoles, so millions of people grew up with it as their first-ever Mario game. It would go on to be the third best-selling NES game.
Super Mario Bros. 3 was praised for its addictive gameplay, an abundance of hidden secrets, and challenging levels. Who could forget the Super Leaf that gave Mario the appearance of a raccoon and allowed him to soar in the air?
Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the many NES games that can be played on Nintendo Switch Online. It’s unlikely that Nintendo will do much to acknowledge its 35th anniversary, especially after the whole Super Mario franchise recently had an anniversary celebration, but we are due for a new Mario game in general.
Speaking of Mario—did you know that our favorite plumber starred in arcades before hitting it big on the TV screen? The Mario Bros. arcade game turns 40 years old this year.
This game was a bit different than the Super Mario Bros. series that would come after it; Mario and Luigi needed to run around a screen knocking enemies upside-down to defeat them instead of on a side-scrolling platform setting.
Mario Bros. had a lasting legacy throughout the past 40 years (besides the obvious of sparking the Super Mario Bros. series); it appeared as a bonus title in many other games, from Super Mario Bros. 3 to Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and even Animal Crossing.
Space Invaders is among the oldest video games, especially those that have had a huge influence on many that game after it. This 1978 arcade game was the very first fixed shooter and served as a template for the shoot-’em-up genre.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Space Invaders is one of the most influential games of all time; it sparked the inspiration for hundreds of games to come after it, especially during the “golden age” of the arcade. Who knows what gaming today would be like without it?
If you remember playing Space Invaders in the arcades 45 years ago, you helped shape the history of gaming by doing so. You certainly deserve to brag about that.
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