Evaluating the quality of console game experience

With the "next-gen" console war in full swing I thought it was time to look at the quality of games that each system has produced. One of the biggest selling points of a gaming system is that the titles that are available and the following will look at at what Nintendo's Wii, Microsoft's Xbox360 and Sony's Playstation 3 have offered thus far.

First I would like to define what a "good" game in this article will be. A "good" game in this article will have an 80% or higher rating on the website Metacritic.com. Though some may argue that 80% is a little generous, I wanted to have a fair scale. I will also look at the total titles the the console has and also look at the number of "bad" games it has. Bad games will be defined with a rating of 49 and lower. This article will also include all downloadable games available via each system's online gaming services.

First we are going to look at Xbox360. The console includes a staggering total number of 140 "good" games, with the top five being Grand Theft Auto IV, Bioshock, Valve's The Orange Box, Gears of War and the Elder Scrolls IV. In terms of exclusives that are only available for system the system has 4 that have a rating of 90 or higher. In terms of "bad" games the system has a total number of 65, the lowest of which is Yaris, a downloadable game based on Toyota's car of the same name. The Xbox360 gaming catalogue currently stands at total of 603. Putting it into simpler terms, the percentage of games that are "good" is at 23%, which is quite the respectable figure and the percentage of "bad" games is at 11%.

Looking at Sony's current offering, the console has 317 games in its library. Out of those, 96 (or 30% of it's total library) are considered quality games, the top five being, Grand Theft Auto IV, LittleBigPlanet, Call of Duty 4, Bioshock and Metal Gear Solid 4. The amount of 90 percentile games that are exclusives are LittleBigPlanet, Metal Gear Solid and Killzone 2. The amount of "bad" games is a staggering low total of 21, or 10% . Even if you consider the fact that the xbox has double the amount of games, that quality of games for the Playstation 3 still greater. You can still argue that the Xbox360 has a greater library then its hardcore gaming rival, but the quality numbers are in Sony's favour.

Now for Nintendo. No one is arguing the evolution the Nintendo Wii has brought to the gaming industry, but it has long been criticized by the gaming community as a novelty item, something that is fun for about a week then gets boring. These number should give us a bit of an indication into the truth of that statement. Nintendo has a just under 400 games on metacritic. Of those, 18 or 5%% of the total library are "good". Those that are "bad" make up 20% of the library (78 total games). That means 75% of the games are "average". That is a really low number and it's any wonder how it is trumping the competition in terms of console sales per unit. Games such as Wii Play have sold over 20 millions copies (yes i recognize the fact it comes with a "wiimote", but regardless) and it has a metacritic rating of 58%! Out of the top ten games for the system, four come from Nintendo themselves and six total are exclusives. This will tell you that third party developers are not putting their big money projects on this system. This could be for several reasons, such as the Wii is an underpowered system compared to the two competitors, but there may be others as well. Development costs seem to be the most likely culprit. Because games are able to be created cheaper on the Wii compared to any other system, more and more developers will create games for the system. This coupled with the fact that the Wii has sold so many units makes it easier for companies to make money from the system compared to the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 whose sales console sales numbers are much lower and development costs are much greater. Games are going to be more likely on the bad side then good. I am not trying to say Nintendo does not have some great products for its system (Wii Fit, Wii Sports, Mario Galaxy are just to name a few), but for a system doing that well one would expect to see the number of games to be just a bit better. Companies just do not seem to want to make the effort on the Wii.

About three years into the "next" generation console war and we see to have a bit of a foundation for how things are going to be for the next little while. Of course the big three are always trying to make things better, Sony is hoping that 2009 will be a big year, especially with a lot of big name titles to the system in the upcoming year and with rumours of a price drop, things only seem to be looking up for the sleek black box. Microsoft has been putting up solid numbers every year and it's gaming library in my opinion is the best, I just wish i could say the same for Nintendo. It's hard to argue against a system whose business model seems to be beating everyone else, its just that I wish the system had a better gaming library.

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