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My immediate reaction is Surprise. When people talk about the "Best Year in Gaming," candidates often include 2001, 2004, and 2007. But here, we see 2001 being roughly on par with 2002, 2004 being a decline from 2003, and 2007 falling short compared to most years besides 2006. Conversely, I did not expect 2003 of all years to do so well. Though in retrospect, a lot of trends were in 2003's favor (multi-platform across 3 consoles, the Golden Age of sports games, the middle of multiple platforms' life cycles, certain re-releases and collections, etc).


Family by Family

  • Nintendo consoles have dramatically poor latter years. The collapse of the GameCube starting in 2004 is staggering, making the Wii transition look stable in comparison. Since the 3rd party collapse on the GameCube, 2009 was obviously a great year for Nintendo consoles. Which was oddly due to 3rd party support, seeing how 2009 was sort of a lull for Nintendo's own console releases.
  • Nintendo handhelds seem to transition more smoothly. 2005 was solid for the DS while also having a GBA resurgence, and 2011 was similar for the DS and 3DS. Unlike the Wii's 2009 though, these were mainly Nintendo's own games. This makes it seem that 3rd party support is less important on Nintendo's handhelds than consoles.
  • Across platforms, Nintendo 's been fairly consistent since 2010, during the development switch to the more powerful 3DS (11 to 15 games with Scores of 85+). The "Unified Platform" incarnation of the NX could likely solve many of Nintendo's software droughts due to this consistency.
  • PlayStation seems to have good years for software tied to its best years for hardware. 2001 was the year the PS2 conquered the market, and although 2009 was not the PS3's peak, it was a year of growth for the PS3 worldwide while the Wii and X360 were stable, giving it a steady lead ahead of the 360 for the first time.
  • The difference between the PSP and Vita is interesting. Despite its decline outside of Japan, with only a bit over half a million units sold in the USA since 2013, it keeps getting solid games. This goes to show the value of multiplaform capabilities, even if just for indie titles.
  • Xbox has been fairly stable since 2002, with 16 to 31 games with a MetaScore of 85+. Its strength in 2003 and around 2011 is interesting. 2003 seems to be due to a healthy mix of exclusives and cross-platform games with both other consoles and the PC. 2011 was similar in that regard, though a bit lighter in terms of exclusives.
  • Looking back, it is understanable where the "PC Gaming is Dead" logic came from. It does look like the platform was declining more often than not from 2000 to 2007 or so. That was also roughly the time that Steam became successful, after a few years of muddling around.
  • Dat Dreamcast

Love and tolerate.