With over 7,000 games being developed each year, the video games industry continues to eclipse Hollywood both in terms of revenues generated, and more importantly, quality of content delivered. For evidence of this, we need to look no further than online critic-review aggregator, Metacritic. In 2009, the average score for a film was 47.5 (out of 100), while that of a video game was 70 out of 100 — a full 22.5 aggregate points higher. The highest scoring film was (rather unsurprisingly) Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar-winning “The Hurt Locker”, which garnered an average score of 94. Bigelow's action-packed drama was only one of two films (and the only one in English) to score over 90 last year, while there were over twenty-five games that managed this feat—– counting multi-platform titles just once. It's also interesting to note that in the video games business, critical acclaim almost always translates into commercial success — Modern Warfare 2 (Metacritic score of 94), for instance, sold seven-million units on day one, raking in around $420 million, while “The Hurt Locker” has a lifetime gross of approximately $50 million, according to IMDB-owned website boxofficemojo.com.

Ever since the gaming industry surpassed Hollywood (including DVD sales) and the music industry in 2008, video game publishers have not looked back. Everyone wants to expand their businesses, and as a result, development studios are bought and sold, new IPs (intellectual property) are created and franchises improved-on. It's now a prerequisite for each publisher to hold at least two-to-three popular franchises (with games getting year-on-year releases like EA's FIFA / Madden series or THQ's Smackdown vs. RAW series) as well as create new IPs — all of this to simply survive in the industry. And while publishers attempt to pace their releases wisely (to avoid competition and/or cannibalise their own sales), there's always that year-end ‘showdown' everyone looks forward to.

It's often a case of ‘saving the best for last' in the video game business, with each publisher trying to out-do the other during the Winter holidays. ‘Game of the Year' debates are often settled during this time, and while 2010 has already had some epic releases (God of War III, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Red Dead Redemption and Mass Effect 2), it's not quite ‘Game Over' for the year just yet. Titles such as Call of Duty: Black Ops, Medal of Honor, Halo: Reach, Crysis 2 and Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty will all probably be selling five-million units within a month of release (and possibly ten-million each in total) while a replacement for Guillermo del Toro is being found to direct The Hobbit.

(Courtesy: Blur)