Sometimes games appear on the list that some staffers wouldn't have selected as a top ten or "best of the rest"; however, the process is such that we give our large editorial team the same voice to help drive our selections. You may question a choice or two, but we all like our list.
It's a long process that we feel best determines the site's overall impression of a game. It also means that multiple people need to "get on board" with a game before it shows up on the overall top ten. This process is driven by our editors' opinions, not by a game's popularity, its review score on our site or others, and the company behind it. We don't care if one game is bigger than the next. It's based on what we liked most throughout the year.
The important element for our "Best of 2012" awards is that we give the Joystiq staff time to play as many games as they can; this is why our awards hit in the new year. Since we rarely get multiple copies of games (and we don't keep any of those games, by the way), we pass titles around the staff to ensure everyone plays the biggest contenders of the year: a list we actually create to make sure people know what is worth playing. In 2012 the list of potential "Game of the Year" winners was 72 games long, featuring titles from all platforms.
We like good games. We make a list about the ten games we, collectively, liked the most. And then we tell you about our other favorites in each editor's "Best of the Rest" write-up. In the end, the Joystiq staff named over 40 games on their personal lists – which, in turn, made up the final top ten of the site.
Of the ten winners in Joystiq's Best of 2012 list, eight were new intellectual properties (one actually a reboot of an original franchise, XCOM: Enemy Unknown
) and only two were sequels: Halo 4
(7) and Mass Effect 3
(9). In 2011, only three games
were original IPs. Additionally, five games on 2012's list were released as download games initially, while only one game last year held that distinction. 2012 was a great year for both downloads and original ideas, a surprising revelation considering this generation of consoles began seven years ago.
Original games featured heavily on all three sections of voting: overall site winners, each team member's top five list (the Top 5 Voted category), and the Best of the Rest selections. There were so many high quality downloadable titles in 2012 that the Best of the Rest category saw 26 games featured in it, versus only 16 games specific to retail.
Only nine downloadable games were featured in the editorial team's collective Top 5, but five carried enough weight to be named winners: Journey
(1), The Walking Dead
(4), Super Hexagon
(5), and Mark of the Ninja
The majority of games on our complete list of nominees were multiplatform PC/360/PS3 games. Despite there being few games listed in the Mobile and Wii U categories, both platforms featured titles that made it to the site's overall Top Ten: Super Hexagon (5) and ZombiU (10).
Note: Titles were only counted once, not once per category.
Though there may be semantics involved in breaking down the type of developer behind our favorites of the year, we thought it would be interesting to examine how 2012's selections worked out. Major developers with the backing of major publishers made up for five of the year's top ten: XCOM
from Firaxis/2K (2), Dishonored
from Arkane/Bethesda (6), Halo 4
from 343/Microsoft, Mass Effect 3
from BioWare/EA, and ZombiU
The separation between an established independent studio and "indie" could be cause for argument of distinction, but the way we broke it down here is based on the developer's history and not funding. Fez
(4), for example, is listed as an indie studio even though the team at Polytron was backed by Microsoft at some point during development.
Established Independent games include Journey
from thatgamecompany (1), The Walking Dead
from Telltale (3), and Mark of the Ninja
from Klei (8). With eight games
under its belt, we're comfortable adding Klei Entertainment in this category.
Of the complete list of Top 5 games voted upon by staff, major studios were behind the majority of games selected. Indie developers made up for 42% of the games named in the staff's 'Best of the Rest' selections.
Last year was a great one for interactive entertainment, with variety throughout genres and new ideas coming from all types of game companies. Many games were tied for eleventh spot on the overall top ten, including Far Cry 3
, Borderlands 2
, and Kid Icarus: Uprising
Your own lists may be completely different from ours, and that's fantastic. If everyone could agree on the ten best anything
all year then we'd be living in a world free of diversity. We prefer to be surprised.