Welcome to Slimgamer’s end of the year coverage. We took seven writers, gave them six categories, and locked them in a room until they’d decided on the Top 36 (or so) of 2012. Each writer picked one item from each category and we compiled the six lists as our take on the “Game of the Year” list. Every day for the next six days we’ll post a different category commemorating the best (and not so best) industry developments of the year.
On Thursday, we revealed our picks for News Story of the Year, Friday brought you what we thought was the Biggest Surprise, and Tuesday showed the Biggest Disappointment. Today we take a look at the staff picks for Publisher or Studio of the Year.
This award, for me, has to go to Bioware. Mass Effect 3 was a game that nearly got game of the year from me, and it was the conclusion to my absolute favorite series of this generation of consoles. Mass Effect has been revolutionary for storytelling in video games, and story is one of the most important aspects in a game for me. Mass Effect 3 was a game that improved upon the already wonderful formula that Mass Effect 2 created. While, overall, I didn’t end up liking the game as much as Mass Effect 2, 3 was a nonstop rollercoaster of action and emotion. However, just making a great game doesn’t make you studio of the year. Enter the whole ending of Mass Effect 3 debacle. I’m not about to argue that Mass Effect 3 had the best or even a good ending but the fact that Bioware took the time to improve upon the ending and listened to the outcry from their fans just shows you what a great company they are. Plus, the extended ending DLC was completely free. Yes, I know the extended ending should never have happened in the first place but a company that has that kind of commitment to their series and their fans is to be commended. A wealthy addition of single player and multiplayer DLC, and making all of the multiplayer DLC free? Thank you, Bioware.
Again, this is a tough one as there’s been an awful lot of great games from lots of different publishers but, for me, Codemasters are not only my publisher of the year but also my favourite publisher (possibly) of all time.
They seem to consistently produce fantastic racing games such as the F1 2012 and Dirt Showdown and if they continue to produce games in 2013 of that sort of quality, which is highly likely as they announced Grid 2 recently (massively looking forward to that!), and some more of the excellent Dirt games, then we’re in for a treat!!
THQ may not have released the best games this year; UFC 3, Darksiders 2 and Saint’s Row 3 were all fun but they were no AAA titles. It’s no secret that they have been having some financial difficulty lately so I’m probably just picking them as more of a “Thanks for all the fish” thing.
Also, Matt Parker and Trey Stone pretty much made my E3 with their hilarious reveal of South Park: The Stick of Truth.
Despite receiving a fair amount of hate and being referred to by some as evil, Activision did have an amazingly successful year with a decent amount of games that are actually keeping the industry strong. Sure, 007 Legends and Family Guy didn’t bode so well but they did publish Prototype 2 and Amazing Spider-Man, which were actually pretty good games. Looking further into their portfolio, you’ll see a little game that is a follow-up to a surprise hit with Skylanders Giants. If you walk into any retail store with video games, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll see Skylanders taking up a huge section that is by far the most noticeable in that department. Of course, anyone can guess that they’ll probably milk the series into the ground like they did with other franchises but, for now, the craze is far from over. Oh, and they published another Call Of Duty game which was mildly successful.
Ubisoft is a very inconsistent publisher; for every Assassin’s Creed II, we get an Assassin’s Creed 1. For every Splinter Cell, we get five Imagine: Babiez. Yet, when Ubisoft is on fire, they are on fire and, in 2012, they burned so bright that you could see them from the moon.
France’s biggest publisher covered all of their bases this year. They had their game of the year contenders with Assassin’s Creed 3 and Far Cry 3, their downloadable hits with Trials Evolution and Babel Rising, and even one of the greatest games to ever grace the iPhone with Rayman Jungle Run. Not only did Ubisoft show us just what this generation is capable of, they showed us our first glimpse of the next generation. Zombi U showed off the the features of the Wii U better than Nintendo themselves and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t absolutely floored by Watch Dogs. Also, who can forget the spectacular E3 demo of Rayman Legends that scored them a well-deserved standing ovation? Ubisoft even toned down on the DRM this year.
I think that 2012 was great for Ubisoft. The release of Far Cry 3 and Assassin’s Creed 3 really made their year with the former receiving major praise from the gaming community and the latter earning the best sales that the Assassin’s Creed series has seen to date. The release of its newest installment in October helped the Assassin’s Creed series reach new heights and now it is better than ever. They obviously put a lot of effort into their graphics and it was much appreciated. The work that they did in 2011 definitely paid off and was a major factor in this year’s work, helping them earn my vote for best publisher of the year.
We all have our favourite publishers for our own reasons. My reason is diversity and humour. In 2012, 2K brought us games like Spec Ops: The Line, which presented a strangely realistic view on the futility of warfare and the fragility of human life, Borderlands 2 with its classic aesthetic and frankly excellent one-liners and gimmicks, and X-COM: Enemy Unknown, which – whilst I have not played it – has overall had an undeniably positive impact on fans and critics alike.
With Bioshock Infinite and another X-COM game coming from the studio in the near future, I can only hope that they keep up the good work.
Check back tomorrow to see our picks for Indie game of the Year, and be sure to come back on Friday to see the Slimgamer Game of the Year.