Metacritic Sees Low Level of Top Reviewed Titles in 2012

By David Radd

Posted January 3, 2013

According to Metacritic, only 14 console games (18 products overall) scored 90 or higher in 2012. By contrast, last year 23 console titles (and 32 games overall) hit or exceeded the 90 mark, giving 2012 the lowest total of good games since the site began its end of year report in 2009.

“We also expect some grumbling about our Game of the Year award, given annually to the year's overall highest-scoring (i.e., best-reviewed) game for any platform,” says Jason Dietz, Metacritic features editor. “This year's honoree, Telltale's The Walking Dead 95 (Xbox 360), is a terrific adaptation of Robert Kirkman's comic books. But it is also a retail repackaging (with a mere 9 reviews, at press time) of a game that was previously released online in five episodic installments throughout the year—installments which, though well-reviewed, never achieved an individual score north of 89. (There's also the issue of the retail version's reported buginess.) Still, without a solid reason to exclude it from consideration, its score qualifies it for Metacritic Game of the Year honors, even if it is the lowest-scoring such game since 2003 (when the PC version of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City topped the high score chart with a 94).”

The PS3 had the Metacritic average, but it had fewer good and great games than the Xbox 360 and the Wii U had fewer still.

“The average Metascore for all 360 releases in 2012 was up a full point compared to the previous year, though the percentage of all Xbox games receiving positive reviews dropped this year from 43 percent to 41.6 percent. Still, there were 101 Xbox games receiving positive reviews this past year, which was the highest total for any console by a wide margin,” writes Dietz. “There were also fewer notable exclusive games on Microsoft's platform to differentiate it from other consoles. For the second straight year, just two of the 15 highest-scoring 360 titles were exclusive to the console. And the number of positively reviewed Xbox exclusives dropped from 12 in 2011 to just 8 this past year.”

“40.7 percent of PS3 releases in 2012 received positive reviews (scoring 75 or higher), an improvement compared to the previous year's 38 percent success rate (though still not quite high enough to beat the Xbox's percentage). Another improvement: fewer than 7 percent of all PS3 releases in 2012 received negative reviews (scores of 49 or lower) from critics, a figure that bests last year's mark of 8 percent as well as leading all consoles this year,” notes Dietz. “Like the Xbox high scores list, the ranking of 2012's best PS3 games was dominated by cross-platform releases. In fact, only one PS3 exclusive—the wholly unique Journey, from the creators of Flow and Flower—cracked the console's top 25. (Note that we don't count HD remasters of older titles, such as Okami HD or the Ratchet & Clank Collection, as "exclusive" to the PS3.)”

“This was obviously a transition year for Nintendo console gaming. With the new Wii U scheduled to arrive in stores toward the end of 2012, few publishers were still releasing games for the older Wii platform this year. And while the Wii U arrived with a few dozen titles in tow, many of the console's first major games—including some that Nintendo is still defining as "launch" games—will not surface until 2013. The result is a very short list of positively reviewed new titles for Wii owners, and a lack of buzz-generating games like a Zelda or a Metroid,” adds Dietz. “Note also that this year's best-reviewed Wii exclusive also comes with an asterisk. Xenoblade Chronicles, the top-scoring Wii or Wii U title by a large margin, was actually released in Japan two years ago and in much of the rest of the world in 2011, before finally landing in North America in early 2012. Because, for consistency, we use U.S. release dates throughout Metacritic (unless there is no American release), Xenoblade is classified as a 2012 release, and thus takes the Wii crown for the year.”



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