Software developer Infocom was founded by a group of programmers (instructors and students alike) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The company would come to be known for it pioneering interactive fiction games, which included the popular game Zork. After its financial collapse in 1986, the company would be acquired by Activision. It’s brand would be discontinued in 1989.
GT Interactive released the wildly popular first-person shooting game Quake for personal computers. The game featured one the most highly-praised 3D graphics engines of its time and a sound track featuring Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor. The game’s online multiplayer component will make the game one of the most popular of all time. (ESRB: M)
Eidos Interactive released the cyberpunk first-person shooter (FPS) Deus Ex for Windows in the U.S. The game will be widely acclaimed as one of the best first-person shooters of all time due to its complex storyline. (ESRB: M)
Midway Games exits the coin-operated arcade game market in order to focus on developing games for home platforms, citing a “declining demand.”
Nintendo released its Game Boy Advance handheld video game system in Australia and the United Kingdom.
Seventeen year-old Scott Carter set a new record high score of 179,600 points on Atari’s Space Duel arcade game with a thirty-two minute game in Mountain View, California. The event will be recorded by the Twin Galaxies record-keeping organization.
Sega released its signature platform game Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis in North America and Europe. The title would became the “killer ap” for the Genesis, popularizing the platform in North America, where it had previously been all but unknown in the face of the market-dominating popularity of the Nintendo Entertanment System. After the game’s break-out success, Sega would off the game in a bundle with the console, replacing the far less popular side-scroller Altered Beast. Sonic would appear in over eighteen game, three cartoons, and two comic series over the next eighteen years, becoming synonymous with Sega. The Genesis would go to sell over 29 million units.
At the Summer Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at the McCormick Place and Chicago Hilton in Chicago, Illinois, Nintendo introduces Donkey Kong Country, for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and announces that the new name for its Project Reality console (the future Nintendo 64) will be “Ultra 64” or “U64” for short. Donkey Kong Country would go on to be one of the most popular titles released for the SNES, eventually selling over eight million copies worldwide.
At the same event, the Life Fitness company makes headlines by unveiling an exercycle that integrates a SNES system. Price: US$1,000 (Home) or US$3,000 (Club)
Along with the Nintendo 64, Nintendo released the flight simulator PilotWings 64 and the platform game Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64 in Japan.
Nintendo launched its long-anticipated Nintendo 64 video game console in Japan. The system featured a 64-bit RISC processor, 64-bit 62.5 MHz graphics and sound co-processor, 4.5 MB of RAM, 32-bit color, and four controller ports. Over three hundred thousand units of the system were sold in the first day, along with nearly as many units of the platform game Super Mario 64. By the end of the year, 1.3 million units of the system were sold, matching sales of the PlayStation for the entire previous year. Price: Y25,000
Linden Lab launched the immersive virtual world Second Life. Second Life was a multiplayer interactive environment where players could own virtual property and construct items. It would make headlines for years to come as business, social organizations, and even governments launched virtual presences within the game. It would also make headlines for a string of high-profile legal cases which blur the line between virtual and real property.
Nintendo released the Nintendo DS Lite handheld video game system across Europe. The update on the Nintendo DS featured a slimmer, more aesthetic design, brighter screens, and improved Wi-Fi capabilities. Inside ten days, over two hundred thousand of the units will have been sold in Europe. Price: €149.99
Ernest W. Adams founds the Computer Game Developers Association (IGDA) as a professional society for game developers with the purpose of promoting and supporting the art of game programming.
GTE Entertainment released FX Fighter for personal computers. It was the first realtime 3D fighting game ever released for computers. The game, modeled, as were many fighting games of the time, after Mortal Kombat, featured eight playable characters, each with 40 attacks, and eight arenas for fighting. Like Mortal Kombat, the game centers around a tournament-style fighting competition.
Electronic Arts released the third-person shooter Fade to Black for the PlayStation in the U.S. (ESRB: T)
GTE Entertainment released FX Fighter Turbo, the sequel to the first realtime 3D fighting game, for personal computers. The game was very similar to its predecessor, but it incorporates even more similarities to the blockbuster Mortal Kombat, including fatalities - featuring finishing moves that can be used to end a match.
Nintendo released the racing game Mario Kart 64 for the Nintendo 64 in Europe.
The Supreme Court declines a request to review the case of Alpex Computer Corp. v. Nintendo of America, allowing a ruling in favor of Nintendo to stand. The prevailing ruling overturns a jury’s decision to award $208 million in damages to Alpex Computer, affirming that the company did not infringe on a 1977 Alpex patent for an entertainment device to display video images.
Video game developer 3DO exits the game console market, selling its hardware manufacturing facilities to Samsung for US$20 million.
Midway released a port of the popular arcade game Mortal Kombat 4 for the Nintendo 64 in the U.S. The game is among the first to be described as “2.5D,” a 3D fighting game designed so as to resemble 2D gameplay.
Nintendo released the platform game Wario World for the GameCube in North America. It was both the first 3D game and the first platform game in the Wario series. (ESRB: E)
Activision released an adaptation of the movie Spider-Man 2 for the Xbox in the U.S. (ESRB: T)2005 EA Games released the first-person shooter Battlefield 2 for Windows in Europe. The game would sell well over two million copies worldwide. (ESRB: T)
Curt Vendel re-launches his Atari Historical Society website following a catastrophic deletion perpetrated by hackers. Vendel has initially announced that he would abandon his hobby of archive Atari history, but a surge of supportive fan mail gave his second thoughts. With help from his internet service provider (ISP), Vendel was able to restore most of his site.
Brothers Joshua (age 14) and William (age 16) Buckner, killed a fourty-five year-old man and wounded a nineteen year-old woman while shooting at vehicles passing along Interstate 40 in Tennessee with a riffle. The two would later claim to have been motivated by their favorite video game, Grand Theft Auto III. Subsequently, the victims’ families would file a quarter of a billion dollar lawsuit against the game’s developer, Rockstar Games, naming Sony, Take-Two Interactive, and Wal-Mart as co-defendants.
2K Games released the first-person shooter The Darkness, based on the comic book series of the same name, for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in North America. (ESRB: M)
Electronic Arts released a game based on the film Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for all popular platforms, including the Game Boy Advance, Gamecube, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Wii, Xbox, and Xbox 360. The game deviates from its predecessors, all of which were action-oriented, in that it is a sandbox game that allows users to fully explore their environment. (ESRB: E10+)
The value of Nintendo’s stock hits $53.06 billion, exceeding that of its chief competitor Sony.
Fisher-Price Toys announced that it would not pursue previously leaked plans to expand into the video game market.
Theodore M. Hoff starts work in his new role as the new president of Atari’s North American operations. Hoff had previously served as general manager of Fox Interactive and senior vice president of Time Warner Interactive.
The Computer Game Developers Association became the International Game Developers Association (IGDA).
Nintendo released the platform game Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards for the Nintendo 64 in the U.S. It was the first 3D game to feature Kirby, and it was notable for an innovative feature with which Kirby could combine two absorbed abilities into one. (ESRB: E)
Captain Video and His Video Rangers premieres on the DuMont Television Network. It was the first science fiction adventure program shown on television. The programs are fifteen minutes long each.
Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney establish Atari to manufacture arcade games with an investment of five hundred dollars in Santa Clara, California. They chose the name, a term from the strategy game Go, after discovering that their first choice, Syzygy was already in use. Bally would soon approach Atari to design and, later, maintain pinball machines. The company would later begin to rapidly expand with the invention of Pong, later in the year.
Atari announced that it had been forced to close its assembly plant in Taiwan for $60 million in order to reduce its debt.
Capcom released the later popular fighting game Street Fighter Alpha to arcades across the U.S.
Funcom released the persistent world massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) Anarchy Online for Windows. The game would be notable for being one of only a few science fiction-themed MMORPG games released in a period when fantasy-themed MMORPG games were numerous and increasingly popular. (ESRB: T)
Infogrames released the survival horror game Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare for the Dreamcast and PlayStation. It was the fourth installment in the series, the first of which was among the very first games in the genre.
Acclaim Entertainment released Mortal Kombat: Special Forces for the PlayStation in the U.S. In the game, which is one of only three adventure games (as opposed to tournament games) in the eighteen title Mortal Kombat series, players were cast as Jax as he tracks down the Black Dragon. The game’s radical departure from the violent death match formula of its predecessors leads fans and critics like to the label the game the worst of the series. (ESRB: M)
Following a police raid on its offices, video game designer MindArk released a statement claiming that the software giant Microsoft had orchestrated the raid out of fear that MindArk’s game, Project Entropia, had grown too popular. Officials connected to the raid, countered that the raid had been undertaken at the behest of the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which alleged that the game developer had over six hundred unlicensed software installations. Project Entropia is a science fiction MMORPG with a real cash economy.
The American Medical Association (AMA) announced that it had decide not to label excessive video-game playing as a formal psychiatric addiction, explaining in a report that more research on the issue is still required. According the AMA report, an estimated ninety percent of children play video games and as many as fifteen percent of them may suffer from addiction.
Blizzard Entertainment unveils the long-awaited roleplaying game Diablo III at the 2008 Worldwide Invitational in Paris, France.
Warner Communications first entered into negotiations with Jack Tramiel in regaurds to the potential acquisition of Atari.
Blizzard Entertainment released the dark fantasy-themed roleplaying game Diablo II for personal computers in Europe and North American. Inside two weeks, the game set a Guinness World Record for becoming the fastest-selling computer game in history, with over a million sales. (ESRB: M)
Sony reduced the price of its PlayStation 2 video game console to $281.79. The company also announced that, despite selling over 9.2 million PlayStation 2 units globally over the previous fiscal year, it had incurred a 51.1 billion yen net loss due to the console’s launch.
Activision released a game based on the film Spider-Man 2 for the PlayStation 2 in the U.S. (ESRB: T)
Sony Online Entertainment released a patch for the MMORPG Everquest that allowed players to remain in the introductory Mines of Gloomingdeep area up to level ten. Previously, players had to leave at level five. The patch is hailed as a welcomed addition in a game increasingly dominated by high-level characters.
The horror film Stay Alive, starring Frankie Muniz was released to U.S. theaters. In it, a group of friends find themselves stalked by a supernatural entity who stalks her victims through a video game in which players die for real. The game would largely be lampooned by critics for dwelling so long on in-game story sequences, which were the film’s biggest draw.
Nintendo released the Nintendo DS portable gaming system in China. With the system, Nintendo released Super Mario 64 DS, a remake of the classic 1996 game Super Mario 64, the pet simulation Nintendogs, and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow.
A study estimated that approximately eight million U.S. homes have a video game systems of some kind.
Two teenagers, Mark Caesar, 14, and Robin Hallingstad, 16, file a lawsuit against Atari for one million dollars in damages, alleging that Atari had produced a game proposed by them under the title PaperBoy without crediting them.
Midway Home Entertainment released a port of the popular arcade game Mortal Kombat 4 for the personal computer. The port offers a number of new, exclusive features not offered in the arcade version. The most notable of these new features was the addition of Goro as a playable character.
Take 2 Interactive released a port of the computer game Grand Theft Auto for the PlayStation. (ESRB: M)
Cryo Interactive released a surreal video game was inspired by Richard Wagner’s opera Der Ring des Nibelungen called simply “Ring” for Windows. Despite the rich cultural roots of the game, it would be relegated to obscurity and criticized as a throw back to the era of Myst-style interactive adventures.
Hasbro Interactive released Atari Arcade Hits Volume I for computers. The compilation included the original arcade version of Tempest, Super Breakout, Pong, Missile Command, Centipede, and Asteroids.
Interplay Entertainment released the gang-themed first-person shooter Kingpin: Life of Crime for the personal computers. Because it was the first high profile first-person shooter released after the highly publicized Columbine High School massacre, the game would draw an enormous amount of negative media publicity, ultimately becoming so controversial that many major U.S. retailers would refuse to stock the game. The it was release at all was surprisingly, though. Several U.S. Senators called for Xatrix to cancel the game’s release altogether after the game was singled out for criticism by the National Institute on Media and the Family in the organization’s annual report on violent video games. Despite its negative coverage, Kingpin received generally positive reviews upon its release, both for its advanced graphics and challenging AI. (ESRB: M)
Activision released the roleplaying game Alundra 2 for the PlayStation in Europe. The game was notable for its close resemblance to the gameplay of the Legend Of Zelda franchise.
Microsoft announced that it has sold over four million Xbox consoles to date and an estimated twenty million games.
Electronic Arts released the racing game The Simpsons Road Rage for the Game Boy Advance in the U.S. Sega would later file a patent infringement suit over the many similarities between Road Rage and its own earlier hit game, Crazy Taxi. The similarities would draw a great deal of criticism from gamers.
Video game developer Activision files a lawsuit against the media conglomerate Viacom, alleging that the media giant was undermining the value of Activision’s ten-year exclusive contract to develop Star Trek video games by neglecting the franchise.
Bandai Games released the roleplaying game MS Saga: A New Dawn, based on the popular Gundam series, for the PlayStation 2 in China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
Eidos Interactive announced that the popular game Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend had sold over 2.9 million copies to become the fastest selling Tomb Raider game ever.
Nintendo released the platform game New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS in Europe.
Microsoft announced that it had sustained over US$1.9 billion in losses over the prior year due to Xbox 360 sales.