Decoding the Unforeseen Triumph: 6 Classic Video Game Blockbusters image
  • Daniel Ellis
  • 09 Jul 2023

Decoding the Unforeseen Triumph: 6 Classic Video Game Blockbusters

Often, the path to success in the video game industry is paved with sequels, prequels, and robust franchise backing. These are the usual elements that ensure a game's success. However, every once in a while, an underdog rises from the ashes, defying expectations and taking the world by storm. These are the games that, despite the odds, became monumental hits, often surprising even their creators. From modern-day pop-culture sensations like Fortnite and Among Us to the classics, these games have all had their unique journey to success.

A Journey Through Unexpected Success: Deus Ex

Ion Storm's journey to success was nothing short of a rollercoaster ride. After two lackluster releases - Daikatana and Anachranox, the studio was facing an uphill battle with low expectations from both critics and the gaming community. The studio's reputation was marred by these initial failures, and they were struggling with active disdain from gamers. However, their third release, Deus Ex, was a game-changer.

Deus Ex was not just a commercial success, but it also received rave reviews from critics. The game's unique blend of genres, its deep and high-concept storytelling, and the freedom it provided to its players were exactly what the gaming community was craving. Deus Ex went from being an underdog to winning the Game of the Year title, and it is still revered as one of the best games ever made.

The Element of Surprise: Fortnite

When we talk of unexpected successes, Fortnite definitely deserves mention. This game was initially presented as a survival game where players build forts to protect themselves from zombie hordes. However, the game's evolution into a battle royale format, inspired by the success of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, was what catapulted it to fame. The game's colorful aesthetics, unique building mechanics, and free-to-play model made it an instant hit among gamers, especially the younger audience.

Fortnite's success was not just confined to impressive sales figures. It also became a cultural phenomenon, with in-game concerts and collaborations with popular franchises like Marvel and Star Wars. Fortnite's success serves as a testament to the power of innovation and adapting to changing trends in the gaming landscape.

Among Us: The Dark Horse

Among Us is a classic example of a game that flew under the radar for a long time before exploding into popularity. Launched in 2018, the game remained relatively unknown for two years. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions gave this game an unexpected push. The game's simple mechanics, coupled with the ability to connect and play with friends remotely, made it the perfect choice for people looking for social interaction during lockdowns.

The game's success can also be attributed to its popularity among streamers. The suspense and deception elements of the game made it extremely entertaining to watch, leading to its widespread adoption among streamers and viewers on platforms like Twitch and YouTube. Among Us is a prime example of how the right circumstances can lead to a game's success, even years after its initial release.

The Power of Unpredictability

The success stories of these games underscore the unpredictable nature of the gaming industry. While solid franchise backing and heavy marketing can ensure a game's success to some extent, it is ultimately the gameplay, storytelling, and innovation that resonate with the players. These are the elements that have the power to turn an underdog into a blockbuster, as demonstrated by games like Deus Ex, Fortnite, and Among Us. These games serve as a reminder that in the gaming world, sometimes, the most unexpected titles can become the greatest hits.

Unexpected Rise to Stardom: Stardew Valley

While the unexpected success of big-budget titles like Deus Ex and Fortnite is commendable, the story of Stardew Valley, an indie game developed by a single person, is no less inspiring. Eric Barone, also known as ConcernedApe, developed Stardew Valley over four years while living on a tight budget. The game was initially a hobby project inspired by Barone's love for the Harvest Moon series. Stardew Valley was released in 2016 and immediately rose to critical and commercial success. The game, which allows players to live a life as a farmer in a charming rural town, struck a chord with players. Its simple yet engaging gameplay, relaxing music, and lovable characters won over players worldwide. The game has sold over 10 million copies as of 2020, a remarkable achievement for a game made by a single developer.

The Fruity Phenomenon: Candy Crush Saga

When King released Candy Crush Saga in 2012, it was one of the thousands of casual games available on app stores. However, its simple yet addictive gameplay, coupled with the strategic use of social media integration, turned it into a phenomenon. The game is a simple match-three puzzle, but the addition of special candies, obstacles, and varied level goals made it stand out. Candy Crush's success was further boosted by its freemium model. Players could play for free but had the option to purchase in-game items or extra lives. This model proved to be incredibly successful, and Candy Crush Saga remains one of the highest-grossing mobile games to date.


These success stories serve as a testament to the unpredictability of the gaming industry. They highlight that, despite the prevailing trends, there is always room for innovation, unique storytelling, and engaging gameplay. Deus Ex, Fortnite, Among Us, Stardew Valley, and Candy Crush Saga are different in many ways, but they all share a common thread - they were all underdogs that rose to become some of the most successful games in the industry. Their stories serve as an inspiration to game developers worldwide and a reminder that in the world of video games, anything is possible.

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