Top 20 Games of Xbox for 2012

A few day's ago Xbox Live's Major Nelson posted the most played games of 2012. The post can be found here for reference, and the reason I bring this up is that some of the listings really jumped out to me. I feel that there is a lot to gander from this list. So open that list up in a new tab, and follow along.

The first note is that the Xbox Live games are ranked by number of users on a daily basis. The Xbox Live Arcade games are ranked by units sold. A couple of the rankings are no brainers. Call of Duty is ranked #1. The one interesting thing about Call of Duty is that last years game (Modern Warfare 3) is ranked right below the newest entry (Black Ops 2) from November of 2012. That means more people played the new game in just the one and half to two months that it was available than a full twelve months combined that last years game was available. Call of Duty players must really drop off quickly after the game release, contrary to the indication that people play Call of Duty all year.

The next piece of fantastic information is that Minecraft is ranked 4th overall on the Xbox Live list. Although Minecraft is a one in a million game, it's nice to see that digital games can be right up there with on disk releases. 2012 was a big year to prove the digital medium and Minecraft led the march on Xbox this year. It is sadly the only digital game to be ranked on the top 20 list, but it still indicates a trend that was once not there. I'm also a little surprise that The Walking Dead (also digital) did not make the list. It seemed like that was kind of a breakout hit that people were playing a lot of. But then again it was not the kind of game that you play day in and day out like these others.

Not too much else surprising about the rest of the live games. Interesting to see 2013 sports games just beat out their previous iterations from last year. As well as seeing older titles beat out things that came out in 2012. Skyrim, Battlefield 3, and Gears 3 do not surprise me, but things like Forza 4, Halo Reach, and GTA 4 are shockers. These titles beat out big games of 2012 like Medal of Honor, Resident Evil 6, Spec Ops The Line, Ghost Recon Future Soldier, Mass Effect 3, and Kingdoms of Amalur.

Now for the Xbox Live Arcade list, something that I'm more fond of. Remember this list isn't most played, it's a most purchased. Minecraft obviously takes the cake, but the rest that follows is the interesting stuff. A little surprised Trials beat The Walking Dead for reasons already stated. Although Trails is great, Walking Dead was a hit.

My favorite surprise from this list is that Castle Crashers is ranked 5th. This is a game that was released in 2008, and it's still selling well. Of course we all know I'm hotly anticipating the Behemoth's new game, and I've gone on record about how I think they are losing momentum as a developer, but this shows that their work is still very appreciated and worthy.

The Xbox Live platform did not have it's strongest showing this year. In year's past it was marveled as the place to have your downloadable games, and the pinnacle of releases came out during the summer promotion known as Summer of Arcade. Not only has XBLA weakened over the years, but so has this glorious promotion. Proven this year by the only Summer of Arcade game to make the list being Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD. Not to say the other games were bad (Dust: An Elysian Tail is amazing) but they are just not getting the spotlight they once had. I think it's because Microsoft has lost focus on games. They clearly are pushing the Xbox as an entertainment device, but that is a topic for another blog post.

The last stand out thing for the XBLA list is amount of branded content over original great games. My fists are full of amazing games I got and loved this year that did not make this list. Games like Mark of the Ninja (Metacritic score 91/100) didn't make the cut while games like Real Steel (40) did. As I previously mentioned Dust didn't make the cut (83) but The Simpsons Arcade (67) game made it to rank 17. Games with brand recognition easily made the list, but great original games were left out due to either poor marketing or lack of effort from Microsoft. Kind of sad really that these great titles were over looked by so many. These are the struggles that downloadable games have, but thankfully the scene is changing for the better. Hopefully in future years great games like the ones left off the top 20 list can rise to the top.

So that's it. I'm sure there are tons of other connections this list makes you think of, so I'll leave it in your hands. Sound off in the comments on what startled you about this list. Or if you disagree with me put that in there too. But until next time...


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