2024 isn’t going to be as jam-packed with new AAA games as 2022 and 2023 were, giving us more time to go back and appreciate the classics. Anniversaries and the celebrations that follow are commonplace in the video game industry, especially if that anniversary is a multiple of five. Plenty of fantastic, influential games will hit milestones this year, but a few stand out. Some could even offer teasers into what might be in store for 2024 if developers plan to celebrate their classics. Regardless of whether these birthdays come with any presents, these are 10 video game anniversaries worth celebrating this year.
I can’t talk about video game anniversaries in 2024 without bringing up Warcraft. 2024 is filled with milestones for the series, thanks to some uniform releases from Blizzard. The entire franchise will turn 30 on November 15, as that’s the day Warcraft: Orcs & Humans released and redefined the real-time strategy genre in 1994. Then there’s World of Warcraft, the most popular MMO of all time, which turns 20 in November 2023. Finally, the Warcraft digital collectible card game Hearthstone turns ten on March 11. To celebrate, Blizzard Entertainment plans to release World of Warcraft’s The War Within expansion and add Cataclysm to World of Warcraft Classic.
On March 19 in Japan and April 18, 1994 in North America, Nintendo released Super Metroid on the SNES. It would go on to redefine the action-adventure game, laying the intricate groundwork for the Metroidvania genre that would immortalize the series’ name. Nintendo isn’t celebrating this in any significant way currently, nor does it seem like the company will celebrate the 20-year anniversaries of Metroid: Zero Mission and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. At the very least, Nintendo Switch Online subscribers can play Super Metroid via its SNES and hope that this is the year Metroid Prime 4 finally arrives, perhaps as a successor to the Nintendo Switch.
Although its North American release wouldn’t come until nearly a year later, in June 1995, Earthbound launched in Japan on August 27, 1994. A cult classic initially, Earthbound became one the most influential RPGs of all time thanks to its biting sense of humor, creative turn-based combat mechanics, and unique modern-day setting. Official accounts for the franchise are teasing collaborations and events to observe the anniversary this year, but it doesn’t seem like that’ll entail any new games. Like Super Metroid, the game is available via Nintendo Switch Online, as is its predecessor, Earthbound Beginnings.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was first released on October 26, 2004, quickly cementing itself as one of the best open-world games ever made and bringing the GTA series’ popularity to new heights. In terms of celebrations, Rockstar has yet to announce any concrete plans. Hopefully, it pays homage to San Andreas in some way in GTA Online around then and tells us more about Grand Theft Auto VI throughout the year. A Definitive Edition of the game is playable across PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and mobile, so this is the year to give San Andreas a shot if you haven’t before.
Half-Life 2 is one of the best first-person shooters ever made, and it feels like the game hasn’t aged a day since its launch. That’s why I’m sorry to make you feel old by confirming that Half-Life 2 will be turning 20 on November 16. While I’m not expecting Valve to announce Half-Life 3 this year, I hope it does something similar to the anniversary update the original Half-Life received last November when it turned 25. Maybe Nvidia’s Half-Life 2 RTX can also come out this year, impressing as a remaster using technology like DLSS 3 and RTX IO.
The third entry in the Metal Gear Solid series came out on November 17, 2024, and its bold, subversive, and provocative story left an undeniable mark on the video game industry going forward. It turns 20 this year, and like the other games in the series, Snake Eater’s core political themes still feel disparagingly relevant today. Those looking to replay Snake Eater this year can find it on modern platforms as part of last year’s Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1. While Konami hasn’t confirmed a release date for it yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if its upcoming remake, Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater, launches this year.
Now it’s time for me to feel old, as the system that defined my childhood turns 20 on November 21. On that date in 2004, Nintendo continued to revolutionize the handheld gaming space with the dual-screened Nintendo DS handheld. In an era before smartphones, it popularized touchscreen gaming, doing so right from launch with games like WarioWare: Touched!, Pokémon Dash, and Super Mario 64 DS. It’s worth digging out that DS you probably have tucked away in a drawer somewhere this year; hopefully, Nintendo brings games from the system to Nintendo Switch Online.
I was still in high school during Five Nights and Freddy’s initial release on August 8, 2014, so I experienced the mania surrounding the franchise firsthand. While I never got that into the series, this franchise has undeniably impacted a generation thanks to a nonstop flurry of jump-scare-filled follow-ups that dominated at the zenith of YouTube Gaming’s virality. We don’t know how this year’s anniversary will be commemorated, but considering we’re hot off the heels of a hit film based on the franchise, I’d expect some sort of celebration.
EA’s Dragon Age series helped set the standard for modern AAA RPGs, and two of its games have notable anniversaries in 2024. First is Dragon Age: Origins, which aptly kicked off the series on November 2, 2009. Then there’s the tenth anniversary of Dragon Age: Inquisition, which came out on November 18, 2014. The series laid dormant over the last decade, but that will change soon. BioWare and EA have promised to reveal more about Dragon Age: Dreadwolf this summer. We don’t know if that means the fourth game will come out this fall.
While plenty of other important gaming anniversaries are happening this year — like Prince of Persia, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and Halo 2 — the last one worth remembering is Shovel Knight. Yacht Club Games’ retro throwback platform launched on June 26, 2014, and became one of the most iconic indie game series ever made. That happened partly because of the hefty post-launch support Shovel Knight received, getting three DLC campaigns, a fighting game side mode, and multiple spin-off games in the decade since its release. Even if Shovel Knight doesn’t get anything new this year, 2024 may be when Yacht Club Games’ first new IP since Shovel Knight, Mina the Hollower, finally comes out.