What Makes a Milestone PC Game?

Even if you’re just getting started in PC gaming, you may already have an idea of what genre you’d like to play: flight or driving simulators, 3D first-person shooting games, real-time or turn-based strategy games, or pure arcade games with little or no plot (and no need for one).

If you don’t, however, here are some suggestions of milestone games. There are a number of signs a game has reached milestone status:

  • It spawns a franchise. Games like Civilization, Call of Duty, Halo, and Madden NFL have sequels for a reason. (Granted, some old-timers may cry over features and gameplay that have changed since the original game came out, but game developers don’t usually stray far from a successful formula.)

  • It generates attention in popular culture. Although most hard-core gamers would scoff at labeling Angry Birds a milestone game, you have to admit that those silly pigs and birds have become cultural icons, just like Pac-Man and Sonic the Hedgehog . . . and such attention usually indicates an above-average game, no matter the genre.

  • It wins top gaming awards. Keep track of which games win the Spike Video Game Award for Game of the Year, as well as the Game of the Year for magazines like PC Gamer and Computer Games Magazine.

  • It’s produced by a major game developer. Blizzard Entertainment is a great example of this truism: Some developers reach for a level of polish, playability, and detail that ensures that just about any game they produce will turn into gold. Look to Electronic Arts and Activision for the same quality.

Of course, even a game that meets these criteria isn’t an automatic best pick from your store shelf (or your Steam store), but it’s far more likely that you’ll get your money’s worth with a milestone game (or its sequels).

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