EA: 2009's 'best' publisher

Metacritic research shows firm outgunned Activision, Sony and MS

Electronic Arts was the most successful games publisher of 2009 in terms of average review score, according to Metacritic.

We have some pretty geeky pub arguments here at CVG... and 'the best publisher of last year' was perhaps our most fraught yet.

It was one that could only be settled (painstakingly, we might add) by researching every game that earned an 80+ average Metacritic rating on Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii, DS, PSP and PS2 in 2009.

Impressively, we discovered that EA was a clear winner - with more games rated at 80 per cent or higher than Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and rival Activision.

The firm had 20 games in total with an 80-plus average - including every core EA Sports release. FIFA 2010 hit an all-time high for the series with a 91 Metacritic score.

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Nintendo was second highest, with 18 games rated at 80 per cent or above on DS and Wii.

Surprising? Perhaps - but it was the year that saw the likes of New Super Mario Bros, Metroid Prime Trilogy, Punch Out!, Wii Sports Resort, Wii Fit Plus, Professor Layton & The Diabolical Box, Flipnote Studio and many more released in the UK and US.

Sony, meanwhile, put in a very respectable performance in third - with 16 titles averaging above 80 per cent on PS3 and PSP. Its big hitters included Uncharted 2, God Of War Collection (US), Killzone 2, Wipeout HD, Patapon 2, PixelJunk Shooter, InFAMOUS and Resistance Retribution.

Microsoft was further down the list - but, of course, didn't have a handheld system to help its position. Even so, it released a respectable six games that scored above an 80 per cent review average - including Forza 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo Wars, Shadow Complex and Trials HD.

Take Two (including subsidiary Rockstar) was fourth, with seven titles above an 80 average - the majority of which wore the GTA badge.

THQ and Sega released five 80+ titles each in 2009, although the later only had one game above 80 on PS3 and/or 360 - its Genesis/MegaDrive Collection. It excelled on PC, however, with Football Manager, FM Live and Empire: Total War all wowing the critics.

Activision and Capcom both boasted four 80+ games each in the year.

But it's EA who stole the show - with standouts including Need For Speed: Shift, Battlefield 1941, Left For Dead 2, Beatles: Rock Band and Fight Night Round 4.

The Top Ten list of publishers of 2009 - in terms of the number of titles which scored over 80 per cent on Metacritic - were:

1. EA - 20

2. Nintendo - 18

3. Sony - 16

4. Take-Two (Rockstar) - 7

5. Microsoft - 6

6. THQ, Sega - 5

7. Activision, Capcom - 4

7. Ubisoft, Square Enix, Konami - 3

9. Bethesda, Rising Star Games, Namco Bandai - 2

10. Eidos, 505 Games, Codemasters - 1

CVG's figures included digitally downloaded games when published by a major label, as well as boxed expansion packs. However, we discounted duplicated releases over multiple SKUs - taking one average score across all formats.