Microsoft is 2011’s best game publisher, says Metacritic

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You thought Sony and its PS3 were the king of exclusives, right? Not according to Metacritic, who’s crunched up the numbers and found Microsoft to be the best, most lauded publisher industry-wide – beating out both Nintendo and Sony. In fact, Microsoft’s the only publisher whose aggregate is over 75% across all their released titles for 2011.

Nintendo’s come in at 2, with Sony sitting with the bronze medal on the publisher podium.

Though the Redmond giant had just two games with Metacritic scores higher than 90 – Forza 4 and Gears of War 3 – the rest of its titles were good enough to keep the publisher in the green. Its worst game? An XBLA title called Hole in the Wall, a nasty Kinect-centric game that has players contorting to  “fit” through oddly shaped holes – an idea ripped straight out of Japanese game shows. Truth is? Very few of Microsoft’s high-scoring games were actually retail releases, with most of their published exclusives appearing on their digital download service, Xbox Live Arcade. Microsoft’s also published fewer games than just about every other top-tier publisher.

Nintendo stays at number 2, the position it occupied last year. Its highest reviewed title for 2011 was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a remake of one of the most beloved games of all time, for the 3DS. Its worst title was also for the 3DS, and also a remake; the 3DS classics version of Urban Champion, a shallow 2D brawler that nobody liked, even back when it was on the NES.

Sony’s risen from 7 last year to 3 this year; with four of its published titles getting higher than 90, led, unsurprisingly with Uncharted 3 at 92. Its worst game was Ape Escape for the PlayStation Move, suggesting that the company – like like Microsoft, really – needs to find a good use for its motion-control technology. 

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As far as third-party publishers, Metacritic’s calculated EA to be the champions in that regard. Interesting to note is that as far as major publishers  go, Activision-Blizzard has dropped out of the top ten completely – probably because they’re happy to publish complete junk like X-Men Destiny and Transformers: Dark of the Moon-Stealth Force Edition. In fact, according to Metacritic one out of every four games released by the company is certifiably terrible. Ouch.

Here’s their list of top-ranked major publishers:

  • Microsoft – 77.2
  • Nintendo -74.4
  • Sony -72.8
  • Electronic Arts  – 73.4
  • Square Enix  -70
  • Ubisoft  – 68.1
  • Sega  -67.9
  • THQ  -66.7
  • Namco Bandai  -64
  • Konami  -64.6
  • Activision Blizzard  -61.1

You can read the full report at Metacritic.

Last Updated: February 13, 2012

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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