The game is considered to be a spiritual successor to Gravon: Real Virtuality (1995). The game uses the same engine, Real Virtuality, as the military simulator VBS1. It was released on June 22, 2001 in Europe and August 30, 2001 in North America. Set on a group of fictitious islands in 1985, Operation Flashpoint puts the player on one of three sides in a hypothetical conflict between American and Soviet forces. The Resistance is the third playable faction. Two expansion packs were released; Gold Upgrade, which included Red Hammer, a campaign from the Soviet perspective, and Resistance, which introduced various new features and improved graphics and sound effects. An Xbox port was released in 2005 under the title Operation Flashpoint: Elite. Operation Flashpoint was praised for its attention to realistic combat.
In 2006, Bohemia Interactive released a sequel called ARMA: Armed Assault. It is based on an improved Flashpoint engine and it was released under the title ArmA Combat Operations in the United States on May 4, 2007. ArmA: Armed Assault's successor ARMA 2 was released on June 19, 2009.
A game titled Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising was released in October 2009 by Codemasters. This game was not developed by Bohemia Interactive, who had reserved the exclusive right to develop sequels to the original Operation Flashpoint, and released a statement that "it is not right to promote this game as the ‘official sequel'."
In June 2011, Bohemia Interactive re-released Operation Flashpoint as ARMA: Cold War Assault, as Codemasters retain the rights to the 'Operation Flashpoint' trademark. Owners of Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis and the Game of the Year Edition may download and install the latest patch for free, and the game is available for purchase via a number of digital distribution channels. This release does not include the Red Hammer expansion, which was developed by Codemasters and not Bohemia Interactive Studio. As of June 23, 2011 the current version of the game is 1.99.