Almanac: This Month In Gaming History – March

Let’s take a look at some of the noteworthy events in video games this month in years past:

  • March 21, 1969 – Konami is founded in Japan as a jukebox company. Four years later, also in March, the company’s focus is changed to arcade games.
  • March 22, 1971 – Video game pioneer Ralph Baer files a patent for “television gaming and training apparatus” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  • March 1982 – The infamous Atari 2600 port of Pac-Man is released. While it would eventually become the biggest-selling Atari 2600 game ever with 7 million copies sold, a large amount of those units were returned to stores due to the game’s poor quality. In fact, it is said that the game was so bad that its damage to video games’ overall reputation was one of the catalysts for the video game crash of 1983.
  • March 1991 – Capcom releases a sequel to its mostly forgotten 1987 title Street Fighter. Unfortunately, the follow-up never garnered all that much attention either and quickly faded into obscurity.
  • March 26, 1993 – The sole Kirby game for NES, Kirby’s Adventure, is released.
  • March 22, 1996 – The first entry in the Resident Evil series is released for the PlayStation. Though not the first horror game focusing on survival over pure action, it was the first game that was ever officially described by the term “survival horror.”
  • March 1997 – Tekken 3 is released in arcades, and is the first game released on Namco’s System 12 board (which would later go on to power Soul Calibur, among others).
  • March 31, 1998 – Blizzard entertainment releases StarCraft for Windows, widely considered to be the standard to which all real-time strategy games are held, even today. It would take 12 years for a sequel.
  • March 15, 1999 – The first Independent Games Festival is held at the Game Developers Conference (which was also the year the conference moved to San Jose, CA, where it would remain for five more years). Among the prize winners is Terminus by Vicarious Visions, who would later go on to be a billion dollar-generating developer with franchises like Tony Hawk, Guitar Hero, and Skylanders on their resume.
  • March 16, 1999 – MMORPG EverQuest is released and quickly surpasses previous genre leader Ultima Online in number of subscribers.
  • March 5, 2001 – Though many people assumed it was a joke when it was first revealed to the public, Conker’s Bad Fur Day is released for the Nintendo 64 and features a foul-mouthed, beer-drinking, skirt-chasing squirrel as well as a cast of characters that includes a giant flower woman with massive breasts and a singing pile of poop. Although both a critical and commercial success, it would be developer Rare’s final game for Nintendo after a partnership lasting nearly two decades.
  • March 25, 2001 – Lionhead Studios releases the PC and Mac god game Black & White. Though it was the studio’s first game, founder Peter Molyneux had also previously worked on the Populous series at Bullfrog, a pioneer in that genre.
  • March 22, 2002 – The Sims officially becomes the best-selling PC game of all time, besting previous title holder Myst. It held that title for four years until being overtaken by its own sequel. The original remains #2 as of this writing.
  • March 24, 2003 – The latest title in the Zelda series, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, is released for Gamecube. While it’s cel-shaded art style and return to a more childlike Link initially divided fans, it went on to be the 5th best-selling game of the year and is now considered one of the series’ most beloved entries.
  • March 16, 2004 – Unreal Tournament 2004 hits PC (with the Mac version following 2 weeks later). It introduced vehicles to the series as well as new large-scale battles via the Onslaught mode.
  • March 23, 2004 – Five months after its PC debut, Final Fantasy XI – the first online game in the long-running series – comes to the PlayStation 2. It was the first MMORPG that could be played by people across multiple platforms and remains one of the only true MMOs to be released for a console.