We're currently barrelling towards to the all important question - which game series is the best of all time? It's round 9 of 20, and two of the most popular eSports games of all time square off against two of the most groundbreaking single-player open-world titles. It's time for Counter-Strike v StarCraft v The Witcher v Stalker. You just need to vote for whichever you think is the best game franchise in 2017, and only one of these will make it through to the semi-final.
Nothing less than a phenomenon, Counter-Strike's humble beginnings as a Half-Life mod belie a series which has swiftly outsold its progenitor many times over. The biggest thing to come out of Half-Life wasn't Half-Life, it was Counter-Strike. Several games and almost two decades later, CSGO is now the second most popular game on Steam, attracting a peak of 850,485 players. Incredibly, CSGO was met with a muted reception at launch, fans preferring to keep it old-school with 1.6. After the initial two-year hump though, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has transformed into a behemoth.
Series began: 2000
Total Sales: 70+ million
Best-selling game: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (31.3 million)
- Counter-Strike: Condition Zero
- Counter-Strike: Source
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- Counter-Strike Neo
- Counter-Strike Online
- Counter-Strike Online 2
- Counter-Strike Nexon: Zombies
Blizzard knows a thing or two about cultivating a beloved franchise, evident by holding several places in this contest. As far as eSports go, StarCraft is its big success. It's sold packed out stadiums, been televised on ESPN, and the original game is still played almost 20 years later. StarCraft is longevity personified, made possible thanks to deliciously perfect game balancing and untold tactical depth.
Series began: 1998
Total Sales: 18+ million
Best-selling game: StarCraft (11 million)
- StarCraft: Insurrection
- StarCraft: Brood War
- StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
- StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm
- StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void
- StarCraft II: Nova Covert Ops
- StarCraft: Remastered
- StarCraft 64
A global phenomenon, The Witcher series emerged from small beginnings to becoming a genuine mainstream AAA success. The Witcher has catapulted CD Projekt RED into the mainstream, provided vital lifeblood to its GOG.com DRM-free store, and proven that solid storytelling, great quest design and massive open worlds aren't mutually exclusive.
Series began: 2007
Total Sales: 25 million
Best-selling game: The Witcher 3 (10+ million)
- The Witcher
- The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone
- The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine
- The Witcher Battle Arena
- Gwent: The Witcher Card Game
Look, sometimes there's room for sentiment in a list. The Stalker series may have only lasted one game and a handful of expansion packs, but dear god wasn't it special. Few games could even dream of having the atmosphere that drips out of Stalker's every pore. It was, and still is, a truly special game that has sadly been overlooked over the year. If you want a little taster of how an open-world shooter can be, without the cookie-cutter design that's infiltrated the likes of Far Cry, one where danger can lurk around every corner and a game that takes pride in the unknown, then look no further than Stalker.
Series began: 2007
Total Sales: 3 million
Best-selling game: STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl (2 million)
- STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl
- STALKER: Clear Sky
- STALKER: Call of Pripyat
Sadly only one of these illustrious franchises can make it through to the next round and potentially be the greatest game series in 2017. Every vote will count though when we tot these up and deliver the definitive list of the best gaming franchises. Have your say in the poll below, and let us know why you think it's the best gaming series in the comments section!
If you haven't voted on the previous rounds yet, you've still got time. Just follow the links below to vote for your favourite game series.