Metacritic's 12th Annual Game Publisher Rankings
Which game publishers released the best games in 2021? For the 12th straight year, we sifted through 12 months of data to determine the best and worst game publishers of the year, based solely on the quality of their 2021 releases. Sales and user reviews do not factor into these rankings; only critic reviews (as captured by each game's Metascore) are used to evaluate performance.
Publishers are ranked from worst to best in the gallery above based on a points system, calculated (as in previous years) according to the following four factors:
(1) Average Metascore for all games released in 2021
150 possible points (awarded at 1.5 x the average Metascore)
(2) % of scored products with good reviews (Metascore of at least 75)
100 possible points (ex: 80% good = 80 points)
(3) % of scored products with bad reviews (49 or lower; in this case, a lower % is better)
100 possible points (ex: 20% bad = 80 points)
(4) Number of "great" titles (Metascore of 90 or higher, min. 7 reviews)
Awarded as 5 bonus points for each distinct title with a 90+ score
Note that the Metascore average (the first factor) counts slightly more than the other factors. Only publishers with five or more distinct titles released last year are included in our rankings.
Finally, note that iOS games are excluded from all calculations. All scores in this report are from January 31, 2022, and U.S. release dates and publishers are used for all games except those never released in the U.S.
Previous year's rank: 6
Average Metascore for 2021 releases: 87.4
10 scored products (5 distinct titles): 100% good, 0% bad
"Great" games: 3
Total points: 346.0
Metacritic's #1 Publisher of the Year. It is very rare for a publisher to average above 80 for its releases across a single calendar year. But how often does a company average above 85 ? Never ... until this year.
Our runaway winner of this year's Publisher of the Year honors, Microsoft certainly published fewer titles in 2021 than it does in a typical year. But what games it did publish were uniformly excellent, making Microsoft the only publisher with a 100% success rate. Three different titles scored 90 or higher (also tops among all publishers): the latest Forza Horizon racer, a sequel to Psychonauts, and the Xbox Series X version of Microsoft Flight Simulator. (Their successes almost make Halo Infinite seem like a disappointment with a mere 87.) Can Microsoft maintain its quality control once Activision Blizzard is welcomed into the fold? Stay tuned.