Cross-platform games emerge winners
Saying that the past year has seen a dip in the quality of platform exclusives would be overstating facts. Games such as Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (PS3), Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360) and Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii), all platform exclusive titles, played great and were well-received by gamers and critics alike. However, multiplatform games emerged the winners this past year in terms of average scores received (factoring in aggregate scores from both Metacritic and GameRankings.com). With the exception of Minecraft, a PC exclusive, and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (a remake of the Nintendo 64 classic), exclusives were comprehensively beaten by the likes of Batman: Arkham City, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Portal 2 (three of the highest rated games of last year with average scores of 96, 96 and 95 respectively on Metacritic and averaging around 95 per cent each on GameRankings.com).
Of the top ten best-reviewed Xbox 360 games on both aggregators, only two were exclusives — Epic's Gears of War 3 and Turn 10 Studios' Forza Motorsport 4. The story isn't much different on the PS3 and Wii, both of which had a mere three exclusive in its top-ten list. The PC had only two exclusives in the form of Minecraft and Shogun 2: Total War in 2011.
But which platform was the clear winner? Among the consoles, it wasn't the Nintendo Wii, that's for sure. According to Metacritic, a Wii game averaged a Metascore of 62.2 last year, lower than both the Sony PS3 (69.5) and the Microsoft Xbox 360 (68.9). This comes as no surprise since a casual gaming device such as the Wii is prone to receiving several shovelware releases during a calendar year, but what was even less surprising was the fact that just one Wii game (Nintendo's first-party title, Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword) managed to get an average score of higher than 90 per cent (as evidenced by GameRankings.com) — this is a worrying trend indeed. A head-to-head comparison between the Xbox 360 and PS3 revealed a narrow victory for the PS3 (in terms of overall average), thanks to a better collection of exclusive titles such as Uncharted 3, LittleBigPlanet 2 and Ico & Shadow of the Colossus HD collection. Marginally better scores for Batman: Arkham City (A PS3 Metascore of 96 to the 360's 94) and release of Mass Effect 2 for the PS3 early in the year helped its cause as well. With the PS3 Move and Xbox Kinect enjoying higher adoption rates in 2011 (the Kinect more than the Move), several casual titles received less-than-favourable reviews from critics, but that didn't have too much of an adverse impact on overall platform averages (the Xbox 360 did a little better and the PS3 did a little worse than in 2010). However, the Xbox 360 was the pick of the platforms thanks to 43 per cent of its games averaging a Metascore of 75 or above (the highest of any platform in 2011). But ultimately, it's unclear as to which platform owners would have benefited more from the multiplatform releases last year. You could either call it a draw or a victory for gaming in general.
Keywords: video games