As with most things in life, games need a story as without them they are nothing. This in itself is a contradiction concerning games, although most of the games released have stories upon which we play through to get to the end objectives many of them do not. Beat em ups are probably the best example here; thousands of games within this genre have been released and sold thousands of copies. The special thing that allows them to be what they are without a story is most likely that they really do not need one, it’s simply two characters fighting each other until one surpasses the other. No story is needed for this sort of game because it would be pointless.
Some fighting games to add storylines to give characters and game play a bit more depth but it is nothing compared to games like, metal gear solid, call of duty or half-life. Tekken and Fight Night add a little bit of story into the fighting to make the playtime longer, you become attached to certain fighters and play with them more often.
You can argue this with most games though, board games for example have a small storyline which we don’t really pick up on, monopoly’s story is to simply work your way around an area collecting money and property to defeat others, where games such as connect 4 don’t. Connect 4 coins together and you win over and over and over again.
I believe that the story factor for games is very very important, just like the story factor is in films. If we were to look at games like modern warfare and remove the storyline, the game would not get as much attention as it does, you get drawn into a fantasy world and its people. You become a part of the story itself! It allows you to feel more about what you are doing, with modern warfare I was pissed off when ghost died towards the end, why? It’s not like there was much left to do or that I used that character and he had a better game play, yet my emotions were still attached.
Id be surprised to find a game in our 21st century that doesn’t have a story intertwined, it may be a very small, unseen amount but it will be lingering in there somewhere.