There has long been a debate between players over which year has been the best gaming year in history. For some this is the year when they first got into gaming. For others it might be the year they bought the most games. Still others see it as the year they have the most gaming memories from. Well, another way to look at it is by counting the number of top rated games. GameSpot has a page that lists all of the games that have received their Editor’s Choice award. It is an easy overview of the big games over the years since 2002.
First things first, this is a biased list. Each game was reviewed by just one person, who could have different opinions than the average. On top of that each game chosen had to have a 9.0 or higher rating, but not all 9.0 games were chosen. Keeping that in mind, I counted the number of unique games for each year. Multiplatform titles, expansion packs, and re-releases (Gold editions, Game of the Year editions) were not counted. I did count handheld games (PSP, DS, GBA) but not mobile games (iPhone, Android, etc.). Whichever year had the most games would be the best gaming year. Remember, I am not saying this is absolute truth. It is just another angle to look at in the debate over best gaming year.
That puts 2002 as the best year so far. There were more unique, highly rated titles than any of the years since. I wonder if there were Editor’s Choice for earlier years, say the late 90s, if we would see even higher numbers. The switch from 2D to 3D started a radical new round of innovation in the industry.
Around 2005/2006 when the new consoles were coming out, the phrase “same game with better graphics” started getting thrown about. There was a general worry in the industry about a lack of innovation. There did not seem to be any new visionary game designers in the 2000s as Shigeru Miyamoto had been in the 80s and Will Wright in the 90s. Couple this with the new console generation in 2005 and 2006, and there were a couple slow gaming years. Things seemed to pick up strangely during the Great Recession years. Now the seventh generation consoles (Xbox 360, Wii, PS3) are getting old and soon to be replaced. The number of unique games seem to be slowing down as well.