Twenty years ago, PC and console games were becoming more important parts of the entertainment industry. At the time, first-person shooter games and the very first multiplayer online titles were starting to set the foundation for some of today’s biggest hits. Twitch wasn’t around yet, but the earliest days of eSports were underway.
Today, many people are familiar with the booming industry. Even if they don’t know FaZe Clan from Evil Geniuses, they’ve probably heard of games like Call of Duty and League of Legends. Given these games have millions of players worldwide, they’re incredibly ubiquitous—and are even starting to bleed into popular culture more and more.
Movies like Players and 1Up, both released in 2022, signal that eSports is becoming a more cemented element of entertainment. Over the next decade, the games mentioned above might be replaced by new cornerstone titles… but what about the world of non-eSports-related competitive gaming?
For millions of gamers worldwide, their primary reason behind playing isn’t to sign a contract with a team or earn millions by winning tournaments. Instead, they’re sticking to their favorite titles for the pure joy of playing. And they aren’t necessarily sticking to eSports-caliber titles. If you’ve ever wondered what sorts of games that hobbyist and underground gamers like, then keep reading.
Online Slots: “Starburst”
You might be surprised to hear that online slots are actually a huge deal. Gamers enjoy them because of their simplified and exciting format. In fact, some publications estimate that around 1.6 billion people have played a game like slots. So, what makes a slot like Starburst so different from its peers?
The game has been around since 2012, making it older than some other games on this list. It slowly became a cult hit thanks to its payouts, which are higher than other games. Though it’s not so different in terms of its visuals or mechanics, players love that it has a higher RTP and volatility than other options.
Dungeon Crawlers: “Hades”
Just like slot games, dungeon crawlers are very straightforward: players must fight their way out of a dungeon cell by cell. In 2020, Supergiant Games released Hades—and it’s quickly become a cult classic for gamers. The roguelike dungeon crawler, just like Starburst, doesn’t do anything that different from its peers.
Instead, it gets points for style. Hades also benefits from incorporating the stories of the Greek gods and goddesses. These members of the pantheon share gifts with the main character, Zagreus, as he battles his way out of the Underworld. Rather than randomly assign powers and weapons, they’re gifted in unique and compelling ways.
RPGs: “Dark Souls”
A year before Starburst hit the market, Namco Bandai Games released Dark Souls, an action role-playing game. Given action RPGs are incredibly popular, they must stand out from the crowd to thrive—and Dark Souls did that by being maddeningly difficult. In fact, it’s still regarded as one of the toughest games of all time.
But that’s what makes it one of your favorite gamer’s favorite games. Its design is also top-tier and so is its combat mechanics, which kept players coming back even after they died again and again. Since its release, there have been numerous sequels, but none have delivered on the same unbelievable difficulty that made Dark Souls a standout hit.
Platform Games: “Super Mario Bros.”
Back in 1985, Nintendo released a new platform game for its NES. These early games remain some of the biggest cult titles ever released—and they’re receiving new attention today thanks to modernized ports. In other words, Super Mario Bros. is back on the market—and gamers are showing it quite a bit of love.
Platform games are simple, requiring players to move their characters across the screen by jumping from one platform to the next. Clearly, this setup has been diversified greatly, with big hits like Cuphead reinvigorating the genre. However, Super Mario Bros. is one of the original platform games—and its got enough unique challenges, rewards, and weapons to keep audiences entertained almost forty years later.
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