The Top 10 most successful years for the gaming industry

A new study has revealed the top 10 most successful years for the global gaming industry, based on the number of top-rated titles released within each year

A recent study, conducted by the online gaming site Spades Challenge, collated the most popular 2,000 video game titles on Metacritic, based on their user score, and then calculated which years were the most successful for the video game industry. 

They identified and ranked the years that saw the most fan favourite titles being produced - a study which, interestingly, is able to bystep the impact that improved technology or increasing audience numbers have had on sales. 

The top 10 most successful years for the gaming industry are as follows…

10. 2009

Only accounting for 4% of the total top-ranking games, you might be surprised to see 2009 appear in the top 10. 

But, to put this number into perspective, the year 1998 only achieved 25 top 2,000 entries. 

Number of games ranked in the top 2,000: 80

9. 2008

Interestingly, 2008 is one of the most recent years to make it into the top 10 (only being beaten by 2009 and 2010).

Number of games ranked in the top 2,000: 89

8. 2001

Evidently, the early 2000s were a fantastic time for the gaming industry. In fact, the years 2001-2005 all make it onto this list, meaning 50% of the best years for gaming all fall within the first half of this decade. 

Number of games ranked in the top 2,000: 95

7. 2010

By just one top title, 2010 sneaks into the 7th spot. 

But, it still achieves a marked rise from the year in the 10th spot, with 20% more top-ranked games being produced in 2010 than 2009. Interesting, considering there’s only a year between them. 

Number of games ranked in the top 2,000: 96

6. 2007

Positions 8, 7 and 6 are all remarkably close, with just the difference of 3 top game titles between them. 

Number of games ranked in the top 2,000: 98

5. 2006

2006 achieved a marked rise on the rankings list, with a 32% increase from the 6th ranking year, and a 61% increase in top 2,000 game titles from the year in the 10th spot.

Amongst the most popular titles released in 2006 are God Hand, Okami, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and Kingdom Hearts II. 

Number of games ranked in the top 2,000: 129

4. 2002 

2002 achieved an impressive 7% of all the top 2,000 gaming titles. And, this bar was consistently raised by the years that immediately followed. 

The highest-rated titles to be released in 2002 include Mafia, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Metroid Fusion, and Shenmue II. 

Number of games ranked in the top 2,000: 141

3. 2005

2005 claims third place, with 141 of the world’s highest-ranking games released that year. Interestingly, 2005 was also the year that we saw the release of the Xbox 360 console. 

The highest-rated titles within this year were Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening, Resident Evil 4, Shadow of the Colossus, and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. 

Number of games ranked in the top 2,000: 158

2. 2004

2004 takes home the silver, boasting an 8.4% share of the total top 2,000 titles.

2004 saw the release of immensely successful games like Half-Life 2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, and Burnout 3: Takedown. 

This was also a big year for handheld consoles, as the Nintendo DS and PSP were also both released in this year. 

Number of games ranked in the top 2,000: 168

1. 2003

According to the study, 2003 was the most successful year for the gaming industry, with 199 - or 9.95% - of the 2,000 titles studied being released in this year.

The highest-rated games released in 2003 included Fire Emblem, Gothic II, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Day of Defeat. 

During this year, the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube were the most dominant consoles, and 2003 was also the year that we saw Valve officially launch its Steam service. 

Number of games ranked in the top 2,000: 199

9 out of 10 of the most successful years are in the 2000s

Interestingly, the 2000s absolutely dominated the competition, with this decade contributing 9 out of the top 10 years. 

It’s important to note that industry success isn’t limited to these years. For instance, although it only has 25 entries in the top 2,000, 1998 had the highest-rated selection of games out of any year, with an average user score of 8.9 out of 10. 

2021 achieved 12th position, with 61 top titles being released last year. This is reflective of the uncertainties of the last few years,s and the turbulent period that the gaming industry has had to navigate. 

But, the study showed that things appear to be on the up again, with 2022 having already produced 28 titles that rank within the top 2,000 titles. 


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