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The 2000s in video gaming was a decade that had been primarily dominated by Sony, Nintendo, the newcomer Microsoft, and their respective systems. Sega, being Nintendo's main rival in the 1980s and 1990s, left the console market in 2002 in favor of returning to the third party company they once were. Overall the decade has seen the last of the low resolution three dimensional polygons of the 1990s and has entered the realm of High Definition games, and has often focused on developing immersive and interactive environments, implementing realistic physics, and improving artificial intelligence.
Consoles of the 2000s
Sixth generation consoles
The sixth generation of video game consoles officially began in with the introduction of the short-lived Dreamcast, which was discontinued in March 31, 2001. SEGA announced that they would no longer produce video game consoles after 2 successive underperforming consoles, and instead became a third-party developer. The PlayStation 2 was released, and became the best-selling video game console of all time. Microsoft entered the home console market for the first time with the Xbox. Although initially expected to struggle, it vaulted into a solid second place behind the PlayStation 2 on the strength of the launch title Halo: Combat Evolved. The GameCube, manufactured by Nintendo, launched in 2001 alongside the Xbox, but fell into third place, a first for Nintendo. The Game Boy Advance was launched as a replacement for the Game Boy Color in 2001. The sixth generation improved on the 3D graphics of the fifth generation consoles. Some of the new features in the consoles included built-in DVD playback, and built-in, or attachable hard drives. Internet play on consoles, pioneered by the Dreamcast, became commercially viable with the Xbox Live system, which was launched in November 2002, one year after the console's release. It featured a broadband connection and downloadable content and was a major success.
Seventh generation consoles
The seventh generation of consoles began with the release of the Xbox 360 on November 22, 2005. This was followed by the Wii and the PlayStation 3 in November 19, 2006 and November 11, 2006, respectively. The seventh-generation featured widespread implementation of HD graphics, media centers, and wireless game controllers, as well as complete online service for all three consoles. The PlayStation 3 also featured Blu-ray Disc compatibility. The Wii implemented an innovative game controller that featured full motion sensitivity, and is wielded like a remote, but had limited button interaction. In response, the PlayStation 3 featured tilt-sensitive controllers, using Sixaxis technology. The Wii's motion sensitive controls and focus on family-friendly games, while alienating some hardcore gamers, has helped the Wii to become by far the best-selling console of the current generation. The high price of the PlayStation 3 kept it in 3rd overall place, but it has slowly increased in popularity, allowing it to remain competitive with the Xbox 360, especially in locations such as the United Kingdom. Nintendo continued to dominate the handheld console market with the release of the dual-screen Nintendo DS in 2004, including successive replacements such as the Nintendo DS Lite and Nintendo DSi. The PlayStation Portable, released in 2005 by Sony, was the first serious competitor to Nintendo's handheld gaming consoles and is by far the best-selling non-Nintendo handheld.
Games of the 2000s
At the beginning of the decade, the only genres of gaming that were predominantly 3-dimensional were role-playing games (RPGs) and first-person shooters (FPSs). The real-time strategy (RTS) genre had seen its first successful 3D release, Homeworld, in, although it wasn't until the releases of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and Age of Mythology that 3D became the standard for the genre
The Sims, released by Maxis in, sold more than 6.3 million copies worldwide by March 22, 2002, to become the best-selling PC game in history, surpassing Myst. After Electronic Arts bought Maxis, the company produced numerous expansions, turning The Sims franchise, which has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide as of April 16, 2008, into the best-selling PC franchise in history as of March 19, 2008.
Nintendo has led the market in console interactivity. The handheld Nintendo DS, released in 2004, features a touchscreen. Game interactivity took a major step forward with the introduction of the motion-sensitive Wii Remote with the Nintendo Wii in 2006. The PS3 introduced a tilt-sensitive controller on its release as well.The 2000s has also seen the implementation of physics engines and increasing in-game interactivity into video gaming. Red Faction, a first-person shooter (FPS) released in 2001 for the PS2 and the PC, features one of the earliest examples of destructible environments in video gaming through its use of "Geo-Mod" technology. Certain sections of walls could be destroyed to provide alternate pathways or reveal hidden locations. Half-Life 2, released in, is widely considered to have revolutionized physics in gaming with its Havok engine, which allowed for what was at the time widespread interactivity with objects in the environment of the game, although very little of the environment was destructible. The Havok engine brought realistic physics implementations to real-time strategy (RTS) with Age of Empires III in. Black, a console FPS released in early 2006, allowed the player's weapons to extensively damage the environment. The PC games Company of Heroes (an RTS), released in late 2006, and Crysis (an FPS), released in 2007, both extended the implementation of physics in video gaming, featuring environments that were nearly entirely destructible and interactive. Since the use of physics engines has greatly increased since around 2004, so has the level of interactivity and destructibility in video games.
The rhythm game genre took off in the late 1990s with Beatmania in 1997 and Dance Dance Revolution in 1998. Although beginning their lives in arcades, they made the move to the home console market and each spawned a number of sequels and spinoffs. The popularity of rhythm games accelerated in the mid-2000s, led primarily by Guitar Hero, which was released in 2005 and featured a guitar-like controller and licensed soundtracks. Initially available only for the PS2, its sequels have expanded the franchise to include all consoles. The developer of the first two Guitar Hero games went on to create Rock Band in 2007, which expanded the concept to include drums and vocals. Guitar Hero World Tour, released in 2008, added drums and vocals as well, largely in an effort to compete with Rock Band. The independent game Audiosurf, released in 2008, allows the user to play their own MP3 files and maneuver a spaceship-like object across a track to hit the music "notes".
Although massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) began in the 1990s with such titles as Ultima Online (1997), Everquest (1999), and Asheron's Call (1999), during the 2000s, MMORPGs became a dominant genre among PC gaming. Phantasy Star Online, released on the Dreamcast in 2000 and later ported to the Xbox, GameCube, and PC, popularized MMORPGs for consoles, although it remains a PC-dominated genre. MMORPGs feature persistent worlds, player-driven economies, frequent content updates, and massive servers that contain thousands of players. Most MMOs also feature monthly fees to help with the massive costs required to maintain and continually upgrade the games. The MMO genre has gained much of its success by cashing in on previous popular titles (such was the case with Ultima Online and Phantasy Star Online) with such titles as Final Fantasy XI (2002), Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided (2003), World of Warcraft (2004), The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar (2007), Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (2008), Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (2008), and the in-development titles Star Trek Online, Warhammer 40,000 Online, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. World of Warcraft, released in, has established itself as one of the most popular games on the PC and set what are now the generally-accepted standards for the genre. Lineage II has established a large market outside of the United States, particularly in Asia, and is the second-most popular MMO worldwide. MMOs free of monthly charge, including MapleStory (2003), and Guild Wars (2004) have also proven to be popular.MMOFPSs have also been developed, although they have not gained nearly the popularity that MMORPGs have. Perhaps the two most successful games of this genre have been World War II Online (2001) and PlanetSide (2003).
Browser-based and independent Games
Controversial mature-content in gaming
The Grand Theft Auto series, notable for many violent and sexual plotlines, was a best-seller of the 2000s. The series' popularity sparked a fad of several Mature-rated video games based on including gang warfare, drug use, and perceived "senseless violence" into the gameplay. The Hot Coffee controversy, a sex mini-game, was discovered in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and caused widespread controversy and have fueled efforts to ban the sale of Mature-rated games to minors. The effort has been spearheaded by mothers, lawmakers, and activists (such as Jack Thompson), although all such efforts to pass any laws concerning this have been firmly struck down. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was originally an M-rated game, but due to much controversy was later turned into an AO-rated game. However, the game was changed and was re-released as an M-rated game
Best-selling video games of the 2000s
This is a list of video games that were released in the 2000s and have sold over ten million copies.
- Wii Sports (Wii, 2006 – 21.56 million, packaged with system in all regions except Japan)
- Nintendogs (NDS, 2005 – 18.67 million)
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2, 2002 – 17.5 million, includes Windows and Xbox versions)
- The Sims (PC, 2000 – 16 million shipped)
- Gran Turismo 3 A-spec (PS2, 2001 – 14.89 million shipped)
- Pokémon Diamond Version and Pokémon Pearl Version (NDS, 2006 – 14.77 million)
- Pokémon Gold Version and Pokémon Silver Version (GB, 1999 – 14.51 million approximately, 7.6 million in US, 6.91 million in Japan)
- Grand Theft Auto III (PS2, 2001 – 14.5 million, includes Windows and Xbox versions)
- New Super Mario Bros. (NDS, 2006 – 14.16 million)
- Lineage II (PC, 2003 – 14 million customers)
- Grand Theft Auto IV (PC, Xbox 360, PS3, 2008 - 13 million)
- Pokémon Ruby Version and Pokémon Sapphire Version (GBA, 2002 – 13 million)
- The Sims 2 (PC, 2004 – 13 million)
- Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! (NDS, 2005 – 12.98 million)
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2, 2004 – 12 million)
- Pokémon FireRed Version and Pokémon LeafGreen Version (GBA, 2004 – 11.82 million)
- Wii Play (Wii, 2006 – 11.51 million)
- World of Warcraft (PC, 2004 – 11 million subscribers)
- Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day! (NDS, 2005 – 10.83 million)
- Mario Kart DS (NDS, 2005 – 10.45 million)
- Gran Turismo 4 (PS2, 2004 – 10.06 million shipped)