Midyear Report: The Best Games of 2010 So Far

  • Publish Date: July 2, 2010
  • Comments: ↓ 69 user comments

Sales down, quality up

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii) 98
Best Reviewed Games, 2010 So Far
Mass Effect 2 (360) 96
Red Dead Redemption (360) 95
Red Dead Redemption (PS3) 95

Now that we are at the midway point of 2010, what do we know? For starters, you haven't been buying as many games as you used to; through May, game sales are down 6% in 2010 vs. the first five months of 2009, according to NPD Group.

But the decline in sales doesn't mean that there has been a corresponding drop in game quality in 2010. On the contrary, for every platform we track, the average game Metascore has been higher in 2010 than during the first six months of 2009 -- meaning the games have been earning somewhat better reviews this year.

So far in 2010, seven individual titles (some on multiple platforms) have achieved stellar Metascores of 90 or higher, a number comparable to the first half of 2009. Three separate titles -- the ones listed in the box at the right -- all scored higher than 2009's best-reviewed first-half release, Street Fighter IV (PS3: 94). And, at the other end of the quality spectrum, 25 separate titles received terrible reviews (49 or lower) in the first half of 2009; that number is down to 16 this year.

That could be a very good sign for 2010, as many of the year's best releases typically don't surface until autumn. Of course, the news wasn't equally good for every platform over the past six months, as our comparison chart indicates below.

Platform Comparison, 2010 (through June 30)
      Metascore Distribution Median Metascores
Platform # Games * # Great % Good % Mixed % Bad All Releases Platform Exclusives
Nintendo DS 30 0 60% 40% 0% 75.5 75.0
PlayStation 3 77 4 56% 38% 6% 75.0 75.0
PC 58 1 57% 40% 3% 75.0 71.0
Wii 44 1 45% 48% 7% 73.5 74.0
Xbox 360 97 4 46% 44% 9% 73.0 72.0
PlayStation Portable 26 0 31% 62% 8% 72.0 74.0

* Includes games released in the U.S. between January 1, 2010 and June 30, 2010 with at least seven reviews.
The # Great indicates the number of games released during the year with a Metascore of 90 or higher. The % Good reflects the percentage of games receiving a Metascore of 75 or higher (indicating positive reviews). % Mixed shows the percentage receiving a Metascore of 50-74 (indicating mixed or middling reviews), while % Bad includes games receiving a Metascore of 49 or lower (indicating negative reviews).

Before we get into the platform-by-platform lists, here are the top performing games across all platforms, in terms of reviews and units sold:

Best-Reviewed Cross-Platform Games, 2010 (through June 30)
1 1 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
Mass Effect 2 Red Dead
Super Street
Fighter IV
Bayonetta BioShock 2
Average: 95 Average: 95 Average: 92 Average: 89 Average: 88
360: 96 PC: 94 360, PS3: 95 360: 92 PS3: 91 360: 90 PS3: 87 360, PS3, PC: 88
Top-Selling New Games, 2010 (through June 30)
1 2 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
God of War III (PS3) Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii) Red Dead Redemption (360) Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (360) Red Dead
Metascore: 92 Metascore: 98 Metascore: 95 Metascore: 88 Metascore: 95
Units Sold: 2.68m Units Sold: 2.65m Units Sold: 2.43m Units Sold: 2.29m Units Sold: 1.86m

Sales figures are worldwide. Includes games released in 2010 only. Final Fantasy XIII is not included because it was released in 2009 in Japan. Source for sales data: VGChartz.com

The year has had its share of disappointments, too. One game you won't find on either list above is the much-hyped Dante's Inferno, which failed to wow critics (PS3: 75; 360: 73) and has sold fewer than 600,000 units for each platform. Other major titles like THQ's Darksiders (PS3: 82; 360: 83) posted similarly disappointing sales figures despite somewhat stronger reviews, while Capcom's Lost Planet 2 (PS3: 68; 360: 68) disappointed all around. And who can forget Dark Void (well, perhaps everybody), an ambitious title released back in January to some of the worst reviews for a major cross-platform release this year (PS3: 59; 360: 59; PC: 57). That game managed to get only a quarter of the way to Capcom's goal of two million units sold.

Releases by platform

On the next pages, we examine the best and worst games released for each platform in the first half of 2010, including the top titles exclusive to each platform.

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Comments (69)

  • WUT  

    Uhh Jake, I hope you're kidding. I'm 99.9% sure he meant God of War 3...

  • Jake R.  

    What the? Dan B. youre part of the problem. you are already calling Gears of War 3 one of the years best and we don't know if its even coming out this year yet.

  • Ian  

    I'm gonna start a flame war for this but I hope mario galaxy 2 wins game of the year. I personally loved it more than the other ones. Don't really have a reason why, I just find it to be more fun.

  • Peter  

    @Adam: I really wish there were a "like" button or something for your post. Excellent points and Wu-Tang reference, haha. I think local multiplayer adds a lot to console versions of games as well.

  • Themusicman  

    Normally I would pick a 360 game as my favourite but I have to say mario galaxy 2 is simply stunning and it deserves the scores it had recieved!

  • Adam Johnson  

    @Noah - Comparing the sales numbers of a game on 360 vs. the same title on PC can be misleading. The 360 is a much more accessible platform to the general public. The price of a 360 is far less than the price of a PC that is capable of playing a Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed or Gears of War at a comparable frame rate. And while it is true that the $1500 Alienware gaming rig will make the visuals look better, some would much rather play a game on a TV in high def rather than a computer monitor even if the visuals are slightly grainier. Modding has experienced some levels of success on consoles with titles like Little Big Planet and Halo 3's Forge addition. While that is a far cry from the life span of PC titles like Counterstrike, it's a show that developers are starting to point things in that direction. Valve's announcement that it's titles on the PS3 will connect to Steam is also exciting. But the bottom line is money & accessiblity. The 360 is just more accessible from a dollars and cents point of view. As a wise poet once said - "Cash rules everything around me - C.R.E.A.M. get the money - Dolla Dolla bill, ya'll".

  • Noah Liebmiller  

    Though I consider myself a PC guy, RDR was a really impressive game, leaps and bounds ahead of any other console exclusive I've played for a while. With great games like this not being put on PCs, developers are losing the chance to see their games used as a space for creativity within the modding community. I'm findin it more and more laughable that suckers are willing to shell out sixty bucks to buy the latest 360 hyped up piece of garbage, when there is a guaranteed limit in gameplay time and freedom. You can get cheaper, better playing, better looking, more fun games on the PC.

  • Rob  

    Why is Sam and Max listed as action? That's an adventure game.

  • Noah Liebmiller  

    So far, I must say we've had a good year. All platforms, with the obvious exception of the 360, have had a real good run trying out newly availiable techs.

  • Anon  

    DS chart is biased by all the games that don't even get reviews because they're so blatantly shovelware. There have been far more than 30 games released thusfar for the system this year.

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