Digital Obsession: The Most Addictive PC Games Ever - HotHardware

Digital Obsession: The Most Addictive PC Games Ever

7 thumbs up


Most of the games on this list are open-ended world builders of one sort or another. Counter-Strike (CS) is a notable exception. The original game was a Half-Life mod that became hugely popular in the years between HL and HL2. In 2004, Valve built a revamped version of the game, appropriately titled Counter-Strike: Source. Both the original game and the CS:Source remake remain playable through Steam. A sequel to CS:Source, entitled Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, was released this past summer.

That's CS: Source on the left, CS: Go on the right. Original comparison by

Counter-Strike's game modes, weapon damage, and a number of other factors depend on which version of the game you're playing, but certain conventions are common to all three titles. Death is permanent in the majority of maps -- once you die in a round, you stay dead, rather than respawning. That tactic is the core of the CS experience -- weapons are purchased from round to round based on your previous performance and there are no game-changing weapons you can unlock via kill streaks or other events.

What sets Counter-Strike apart from a number of other popular franchises, like Call of Duty, is the launch of a new game doesn't cannibalize the previous titles. Thanks to, we can show you objective data to prove it. Steamgraph's data only extends backwards through May 5, 2011, but that's long enough to establish short-range trends.

's daily rate dips slightly on the day CS:Go is released, but recovers thereafter. The original Counter-Strike doesn't budge at all. This makes sense, if you're committed to playing a ten year-old game already, you probably don't care much about a sequel launch.

CS:Go's daily rate settles just above the 20,000 mark. The net number of people playing a Counter-Strike title has risen slightly since the new game's release, from ~101,000 people pre-launch to 122,000 today.

Now let's compare that to the popular Call of Duty franchise.

This graph neatly summarizes why Counter-Strike is on our list of most addictive titles, while the hugely successful Call of Duty isn't. Each CoD title rapidly cannibalizes the game that came before. When Modern Warfare 3 debuted, the total number of CoD players hit 128,794. By the time Black Ops II hit the streets, this had dwindled to ~53,000. Black Ops 2's impact sent total players soaring back to 105K, but dwindled quickly thereafter. Right now, the total number of people playing one of these four titles is just over 70,000.

Diablo II:


Diablo II doesn't hold my personal record for most hours played, but it's the only game that sucked me in so deep, I became addicted to improving it. I've written about that effort before, and I won't rehash the entire history here, but the game struck an amazingly good balance between addictive playstyle, an explorable world, innovative quest structures, and interesting gameplay.

It built perfectly on what had come before in Diablo but expanded the canvas from a single world in the same town with varying dungeons to an entire world of brilliant colors, evocative music, and differing architectural styles.

Who could forget this musical gem?

Diablo II
introduced Blizzard-hosted servers meant to reduce player cheating, after numerous flaws in Diablo had effectively destroyed the game's multiplayer. The Open vs. Closed Realm system succeeded at this, at least for the years following the game's release. Blizz also introduced a new permanent death option via Hardcore mode, and designed many character abilities to function best in parties.

Article Index:

1 2 3 Next
+ -

Man, I know all of these games as to well with the exception of civilization, I just couldn't get into it. I wish I still ran x-fire so I could tell you how many hours I had in WoW, Minecraft, and CS:S. I didn't get into Diablo 2 until years after it was released, and even then I just played single player. I was probably bigger into the first Diablo honestly.

Warcraft definitely was the worst. At one point I took a 9 day vacation and literally just sat at home playing warcraft for the entire duration. Do I regret it now? Nope. It was something I really enjoyed, and still wish I could find a way to play it, unfortunately that game just demands way too much of your life than i'm willing to give it. I'll just stick with planetside 2 for now.

+ -

If you happen to remember the nickname you used there, you can still access the profile online:

That's mine; so just replace my name with yours at the end.

+ -

The multiplayer grind typically doesn't do it for me. It's usually open world games that keep me coming back. I think the most hours I've clocked in was in Morrowind, followed closely by Shenmue on Dreamcast. Skyrim is up there as well.

+ -

Personal experiences with every one of these.

I loved civilization and ended up getting sucked into more than a few 12+ hour games (not consecutively though), but it was that very facet that turned me away from it. It took SOOO long to complete just one game, other than that it was challenging enough to be pretty damn hard against the computers but not impossible to win (although it got close)

I never played counter-strike but I've heard good things about it everywhere, I might have to give it a chance because Half-life and the source engine is among my favorites so something based off that has to be decent at the very least, I loved the comparison to the COD series that cannibalizes its self, that's a really interesting way to look at things

I remember playing Diablo II at about 12 years old for hours with a friend.. the cache, it wasn't online it was single player. A friend and I would make a character and just take turns playing through quests and would switch at a quest completion or death. This was also played for entire days at a time over the course of sleepovers lol.

I played WOW towards the end of Middle school, experimented with a character up to level 40 and never got into the guild/raiding aspect of the game but it's appeal was the continuation of the story I enjoyed from WC3, but I definitely preferred RTS to MMO games. I found the repetition of Kill X and get Y really boring.

Minecraft is a continuation and evolution of Legos from Childhood and I still play it every now and then and sometimes play with friends on small servers they have set up.

+ -

A bunch of games REALLY sucked me in over the years...

Impossible Mission - C64: Spent WAY too many hours trying to beat that one.

All of the classic Sierra games - PC: Kings Quest, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Manhunter, etc.

Wing Commander Series - PC: Simply one of the best franchises ever.

CoD Series - PC: Up to MW3

And my ol' standby - Left 4 Dead 2. When I want instant gratification and don't have much time to game, I jump in, kill a bunch of zombies, and jump out.

+ -

The Walking Dead is another one that really pulled me in. It wasn't much of a "game", but the story was so gripping, I plowed through all 5 episodes in 2 nights.

+ -

What about Ultima Online?  Anyone here ever get into that?  I played for about 5 years, and made my first man sized paycheck of $1200 playing that.  I was 13 at the time I made all the money, so i'm pretty sure the money went to music and t-shirts.

+ -

Leisure Suit Larry?!
Marco... dirty dirty.. hahaha

Also have you seen any of the stuff for the planned sequel to Wing Commander? I never played any of the originals but this upcoming game looks like it's going to be amazing.
Also do you have any input on that 100% indie fan-made Wing Commander game? 

+ -

If you like Wing commander, the you should go download Wing Commander Saga. Great game to break out the old Wingman joystick for!

+ -

Games that I've sunk more than 200 hours into, each:

Asheron's Call (MMO)


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Civilization V

Counter-Strike: Source

Duke Nukem 3D

Half-Life 1 Multiplayer

Lineage II (MMO)

Test Drive Unlimited 2

1 2 3 Next
Login or Register to Comment
Post a Comment
Username:   Password: