Worf found an interesting article on the evolution of space combat simulations over at Arstechnica. It begins with the basic Space War concept pioneered in the 1960s, hits Elite in 1984 and ends with the fallout surrounding Freespace 2 in 1999. The Wing Commander series is credited for providing major steps in the maturation of the genre throughout the 1990s. I do have to admit a few details seem to be exaggerated. Most primary Wing Commander games sold a bit more than a million copies, not five. His stats for Wing Commander 3 instead mainly pertain to Prophecy. The game also didn't use the same engine as Strike Commander (Armada was the testbed for the WC3 engine). The article explores a number of other genres as well. On the subsequent pages, Ultima Online and Strike Commander take their place in the history of massively multiplayer and flight sim games. You can find the full article here.