The Best Year in Gaming: The Final Matchup

Well, here we are. Fifty articles, dozens of votes, and more than a month later, we’ve finally arrived at our final matchup. And even though we were determined to look at more than just video games, it was always going to be these two – 1998 and 2004 were phenomenal years for gaming, each filled with a number of all-time greats, a stellar line-up of solid releases, and important trends. Welcome to the final vote.

1998 vs. 2004


No more pretenders; no more years just here because people felt strongly about one single game. Our two remaining years are legitimately the two best years in gaming, and while I was surprised by some of the results getting here, I was pretty sure this was always going to be the final matchup.
1998 is our one-seed, widely regarded as the best year in video games. It’s hard to compete with the combined might of Half-Life, Resident Evil 2, Ocarina of Time, StarCraft, Fallout 2, Banjo Kazooie, Metal Gear Solid, and Baldur’s Gate. 1998 was the year the Dreamcast launched in Japan, and with it Sonic Adventure, though its best games were still a year or two away. Instead, Sega’s best release that year was Panzer Dragoon Saga, a beloved but difficult-to-find and underplayed RPG for the Sega Saturn. That’s a phenomenal lineup of extremely formative games, and it’s hard to beat 1998 on the sheer power of its video games. Add to this the release of Warhammer 40,000 third edition, and while 1998 wasn’t the strongest year for tabletop games in our set, it’s still got some pretty solid chops. And if you’re looking for cult hits, the PlayStation has got you covered with the likes of Xenogears and Parasite Eve.
2004 is the 2-seed in our competition, and can put up just as solid a resume. 2004 was an amazing year for games. Half-Life 2, Halo 2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, FarCry, Doom 3, The Sims 2, and Unreal Tournament 2004 headline an all-time roster of games, and that’s before you get to the handhelds; both the Sony PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo DS released in 2004, kicking off the best era in handheld gaming to-date and giving us Nintendo’s best-selling console of all time. And if you want to talk about important games? 2004 was the year World of WarCraft debuted, kicking off one of the biggest games of all time and spearheading a worldwide phenomenon. You want more games than that? How about KotoR II? Katamari Damacy. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Red Dead Revolver. Monster Hunter. Pokemon Fire Red/Leaf Green. Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. Rome: Total War. Ok, but what about the tabletop games? On that front you have the fourth edition release of Warhammer 40,000, Betrayal at the House on the Hill, Ticket to Ride, and Power Grid. It doesn’t matter what metric you’re looking at, 2004 smashes it and then some.
If you’re interested in voting on the outcome, head over to our Patreon and join our Discord server to vote. Otherwise, check back tomorrow for the winners and the Final Four matchups.
This article is part of a larger series on the best year in gaming. For more years, click this link. Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at