This guy said it best. They don't even show mickey mouse cartoons on tv nor are episodes on sale on dvd anywhere, yet Disneyworld is still just as popular as ever. Mario could stop being made into games and yet just his face as a logo would make Nintendo stock go up.
dont forget that masterchief is known commercially. he sells doritos and mountaindew. which are at every supermarket, gas station, schools, public places and etc.
That doesn't tell people who he is though. People can see him on those items and still be like "who is that?". When people see Mario, they know its Mario. No introduction needed. That's true icon status.
If Platinum was HAND drawn, she'd be on paper, fool. This is a video game. They just made her on screen, no "drawing" involved -Delano7 on BlazBlue
Pacman is Iconic. It's been decades at several generations of gamers since a proper pacman game has been made, but everyone of you knows what he looks like and does.
Lets see master chief take a ten/twenty yr absense and see how well he's remembered. Will your children recognize him then. It takes a hell of a gaming figure to survive generational gaps. I think Mario would survive a ten yr hiatus, but you should judge the characters on that.