A question that has plagued the minds of gaming analysts is why have the best WW2 games been so popular? It’s difficult to answer this because the landscape of WW2 games has changed dramatically over the years. Both gamers and developers have also changed the ways in which WW2 games are played by and released to the general public. It’s certainly not as easy as popping a floppy diskette into a drive anymore! So, just why is this genre such a popular one?
One of the earliest games on the personal computer, Wolfenstein 3D, was set in the Second World War and completely changed the way in which gamers interacted with their games. Before the early 1990s, most games were quite linear and didn’t have much by the way of interactive environments. Wolfenstein 3D changed that. At that point, it was possible for players to immerse themselves in a gaming environment where they were able to manipulate actionable objects, strafe from side to side along with moving forwards and backwards, and see a more heavily detailed gaming environment. This set the stage for not only first person shooters, but WW2 as a subgenre within gaming.
Using the first person shooter model as a model for the best WW2 games continued until the mid 1990s. Then, Panzer General changed the way that players thought of the subject matter within video games. Strategy was proposed as an alternative to the FPS genre and did so with resounding success. In the minds of gamers, Panzer General quickly became a household name and those who enjoyed turn-based strategy titles were very much into the idea of immersing themselves within the minds of a top military general, commanding armies, and taking control of the events in the Second World War for themselves.
This created a sort of backlash against developers. Strategy was seen as one of the most suitable genres for war-based video games, but much of what went into developing the FPS genre was war-based, too. Game developers soon had to make a decision: stick with a tested, but tired model of FPS WW2 games or capitalize on a newly found success. They chose the latter.
This decision was praised by gamers, which solidified the topic’s popularity within the gaming world. While there were still World War II focused FPS games being released onto the market, they were greatly outnumbered by strategy games and this is a trend that continues to this very day. WW2 games are slowly disappearing from the mainstream platforms nowadays, but are still found in abundance on Android and iOS devices.
So, just why are these games so popular? They likely evoke nostalgic memories in the minds of gamers, but also prove to be quite suitable subject matter that suits the tastes of a wide variety of gamers. The best WW2 games are ones that capture the interests and engage players from a variety of backgrounds, which is perhaps the only consistent aspect of the genre that’s stayed the same throughout the years.