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2001 is probably out, just because this thread already fails Betteridge's Law.

I'm seeing a lot of love for 2007, which I don't 100% agree with. I mean, Super Mario Galaxy, Bioshock, Uncharted and Mass Effect, sure (also Eternal Sonata, CoD 4, The Orange Box and Zack & Wiki,). They're all great or at least influential. Lots of the other big releases people have mentioned were either a little before a series peaked (Assassin's Creed, The Witcher) or a little after (Metroid Prime 3, Super Paper Mario).

2007 isn't a bad year at all, but greatest ever? Not quite - more like top five. It's for sure better than 2010, though, which, aside from Mass Effect 2, Civ V and Red Dead Redemption, was mostly headlined by games that were good, but weaker than their predecessors (Mario Galaxy 2, Bioshock 2 and DKC Returns are all definitely in this category).

There's definitely a reason why 1998 gets mentioned so often in these conversations: Ocarina of Time, Metal Gear Solid, Half-Life, Banjo-Kazooie, Resident Evil 2, Unreal, StarCraft, Baldur's Gate, Grim Fandango, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Fallout 2. Some of those are a little more niche, but a lot of those games (especially the first three) were ridiculously influential.

I agree with the people mentioning 2017, too, and I think it was the best year we've seen for gaming in quite a while. It was certainly the best year I've seen in a veeeeeeery long time if you're into Nintendo, and depending on where you are in the world it had probably been somewhere between 15 and 30 years since you last saw a new mainline Mario and Zelda game launch in the same year on the same console. That alone is pretty huge.

I'm also really surprised at the lack of mentions for 2004, which had Half-Life 2, GTA: San Andreas, Halo 2, Burnout 3, Metroid Prime 2, The Sims 2, Metal Gear Solid 3, Pikmin 2, Tales of Symphonia, Viewtiful Joe 2 and Paper Mario TTYD (all series-bests or near-bests), as well as launching franchises like WoW, Katamari, Red Dead, Fable, Far Cry, and Monster Hunter. I don't even care for a lot of those games myself, but it's just a crazy-big list of games that I frequently hear mentioned as being some of the best of all time. Also, it had Baten Kaitos. I might be the only person who cares about that, but it was a fantastic game.

If there's a top six (I couldn't narrow it down to five) I'd probably say it's:

1986 (the biggest single gaming year of the 80s thanks to launching Zelda, Metroid, Dragon Quest, and Kid Icarus)

1994 (Super Metroid, SimCity 2000, Earthworm Jim, Donkey Kong Country, Daytona and Tekken in arcades, and uncensored Mortal Kombat II on SNES, which was a huge step for Nintendo)

1998 (frequently mentioned for good reason - third-person action/adventure, shooters, stealth games and survival horror owe so much to Ocarina of Time, Half-Life, Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil 2, respectively)

2004 (it's a bit sequel-heavy, but almost all the major sequels were excellent)

2007 (seventh-generation consoles were starting to really come into their own - I do think it's a slightly overrated year, but still a strong one)

2017 (the earlier end of the 2010s lacked any killer years as the transition between generations happened, but 2017 was an incredible launch year for Switch and a strong year for software overall)

With 1998 and 2004 at the top.

VAMatt said:
IMO, the current year is pretty much always the best year. Gaming technology continues to progress, as does the ability of devs to take advantage of that tech. So, things are always getting better, and that always makes the most recent time the best.

That's a bit of a limited view; what about games that are influential, or were great for their time? Some years saw a lot of games that have shaped the industry or wowed people and made the year feel exciting. Others, like some of the mid-2010s, definitely did not.