This year has seen the release of a slew of critically-acclaimed games: Halo 3, Rock Band, BioShock, Super Mario Galaxy, Uncharted, etc. It’s the best year ever for videogames… or is it?
If you’ve been listening to the conversations around the industry – on podcasts, in editorials, on messageboards – you’ve heard people claim that this year is quite possibly the “best year ever”. In 2007 we have certainly enjoyed some great games: Halo 3, Super Mario Galaxy, BioShock, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, God of War II, Portal, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, and on and on. With games like these, it’s easy to believe that 2007 truly is the best year ever.
Here’s the catch: 2007 has the second worst overall review scores since 2001. Just look for yourself:
In some aggregate way, the years of 2001, 2003 and 2004 were significantly better overall than 2007 has been. And by these figures 2006 was a real stinker. It sure didn’t seem that way at the time.
What’s going on here? A quick look at a few histograms shows a bit more of what’s going on. Let’s compare 2003 with 2007:
Even though no 2003 games averaged above 95%, the bulk of the games from that year (the “bump” of red bars) is closer to 100% than the more evenly distributed scores from 2007. Perhaps more strikingly, there were 31 games with scores of 90% or higher in 2003 while only 14 games scored that highly in 2007. The games of 2004 reviewed only slightly better than in 2003 and the graph exhibits a similar shift toward the upper scores.
Fortunately, there are more ways to measure success than just review scores.