Critic Comparison: Which Console Has The Most Acclaimed Games?

By Spencer . March 19, 2009 . 10:39am

Inspired by Edge Online’s study I gathered data comparing Metacritic scores across the current three consoles: PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360 to compare the number of games lauded and loathed by critics.


Games are arranged into four groups. “Great” is defined as a game with an aggregate review score of 85 or greater. “Good” is for games that fall between 84 and 70. “Mixed” games include titles with differing opinions and average reviews. Scores in the range of 69-50 are classified as “mixed”. Finally, games with a score lower than 49 are considered “awful” with generally unfavorable reviews.


This study includes all games, retail releases and downloadable titles, rated by Metacritic to date.




As seen in the above graph, the Xbox 360 has the highest number of games in the “great” and “good” categories. However, the Xbox 360 also has the greatest number of total games. The next graph takes this factor in consideration.



Let’s look at the data a different way to analyze the spectrum of a console’s library. Since the number of games on each console varies this graph looks at the percent of titles (i.e. number of games in a category divided by total games) that fall into each category. In this case if you were to pick a random game from the PlayStation 3’s library there is a 60% chance critics would be rank it “good” or higher.





The Nintendo DS and PSP have been on the market longer than any of the consoles, but few handheld games fall into the “great” category. The majority of the games, nearly half of all released titles, are in the mixed category. Compared to today’s console games this is a significant margin. Are critics too demanding on handheld games?


Previous Generation


For a frame of reference, this set of graphs depict last generation’s consoles using the same comparison rules. The PlayStation 2 has triple the number of Gamecube games and nearly double the amount of Xbox titles. Unfortunately, not all of the software is up to par. The PS2 has the smallest percentage of games in the “great” category, but there are over 150 of them which is significantly more than any of the other consoles.

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  • About midway through the Gamecube’s lifecycle, Nintendo simplified their “Official Nintendo Seal of Quality” to just the “Official Nintendo Seal.” Since then, it appears Nintendo has opened the floodgates for developers wanting to make money off of the success and popularity of the Wii and DS.

    This is where it gets bad… while Apple can use the free enterprise system for their App Store, Nintendo is only allowed so much shelf space in stores. If this ratio favors the poor quality software, consumer confidence will slowly decline.

    This is exactly why Nintendo issued the seal in the first place. Along with fighting piracy, developers were encouraged to maintain a decent level of quality per title. Atari had previously collapsed the videogame industry through a tidal wave of bad and often broken software.

  • Truth

    The only thing that matters is the total number of quality games. The whole good to bad ratio argument is nothing more than PR damage control. Who cares if console A has a 90% aggregated quality ratio, if console B’s total number of quality titles outnumbers console A’s total 3 to 1.

    • Smith

      ^THIS- All this is doing is trying to make the ps3 look better. lmao

      • ReturnOfSomeDude

        HAHAHAHA! ^ You guys are both hilarious.

        You’re as funny as gravity deniers. EVERY single way the data’s broken down looks bad for Wii fanboys.

        But since you can’t bear yourselves to look at the data without getting enraged, I’ll blow it up big for you.

        # of Total Games that Scored Above 85 by Console:

        1st place: Xbox 360 with 58.
        2nd place: Playstation 3 with 43.
        In last or, LOSER place, with 17: (aka, less than HALF the number on either of the other two consoles…) The Wii.

        Games in the 84-70 range:

        1st place: Xbox 360 with 236.
        2nd place: Playstation 3 with 138.
        Once again in LOOOOSER place (been playing a lot of Dokapon Kingdom, sorry.) is the Wii, with 111.

        When you combine the two, for most games that are above mediocre:

        Xbox 360: 294
        Playstation 3: 181
        Wii: 128

        LEAST games in the 85+ category. LEAST games above 70. MOST games below 45. (Almost as many as the PS3 and 360 COMBINED.) It’s not “trying to make the PS3 better”. Every piece of data regarding software quality makes the PS3 and the 360 look better. Any way the numbers are crunched, any way the data’s presented, the 360 and the PS3 come out on top, and the Wii’s taking the Walk of Shame.

        lmao? You should actually read the data presented, because you’ll be CYAO.

        • Truth

          WTF are you talking about you moron. I knew the 360 has the best game library when I made my post. I simply refrained from using console names to avoid a bunch of fanboy bs. Guess it didn’t work.

          • ReturnOfSomeDude

            Hm. Maybe I read that wrong, then.

        • Hahaha, you’re just saying exactly what they mean. They said the % OF GOOD GAMES VS BAD doesn’t matter. You’re not even mentioning that in your reply :D Actually they’re not even mentioning that what looks BAD, not the WII or anything… dude..

          Way to waste a big part of the reply page

          • ReturnOfSomeDude

            Yeah, I feel retarded. And I can’t even edit the original post. Bleh.

          • Haha, no problems. As long as you realized the issue with your statement (which was otherwise correct) ;)

          • Truth

            I can see how he got confused. I should have just said:

            Console B with 300 quality titles and 200 low quality titles is still better than,
            Console A with 100 quality titles and 40 low quality titles.

            Simply because low quality titles aren’t what gamers buy to begin with.

  • ReturnOfSomeDude

    Not surprising. The Wii is behind in both the ratio and the number of good games. By %, the PSP’s just as quality as the DS, despite how people want to write it off as having “no good games”.

  • Stubacca

    Excellent comparisons and a worthwhile read.

    Metacritic is good but because it includes such a wide range of reviews, it often reduces the great quality of a title based on only a couple of poor reviews for a game which has otherwise done rather well.

    To my mind, no title comes close to the superiority offered in Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid 4.

    • Thank you! I agree with the wide range which is why I broke down their “mixed” group to two separate categories. Otherwise the data wouldn’t be as meaningful with a huge spike in the middle group.

  • klarax

    Wow, nice gathering of information, this info might come in useful to some popple, especially if they have to write any research papers :)

    Nice work :)

    • Thanks! If anyone does a research paper I would love to see it. :)

  • This… is an amazing article. Excellent data crunching and excellent results. I was surprised by the PS2’s % of Library result, but given the Wii’s similar trend (more games = more blah), it makes sense. Still… I’m definitely pumped to see those results, for some reason.

    And yes, critics are too demanding with handheld games. Valkyrie Profile is awesome and reviewers docking it points for being “too hard” need to stop whining and think before they act.

    • Thank you :). I was surprised to see the bell curve sloping towards the “mixed” group.

  • Zool

    considering half those xbox titles are XBLA trash like uno this isnt a very accurate representation

    • Strange and inaccurate opinion this one.

      PSN and VirtualConsole/WiiWare reviews are ALSO counted. Many XBLA titles has scored badly and some good. There are a LOT of them though but the same can be said about the PS2’s library. It’s no difference from other consoles and it’s not inaccurate because this is about GAMES for CONSOLES which both XBLA, PSN and WiiWare/VC are… I don’t see your point at all.

    • Oh yeah, another thing. This is about aggregate reviews and the “overall opinion” from reviewers. UNO is not trash in that sense because it’s gotten good reviews, my personal opinion agrees. However I think games like Resistance are trash but that doesn’t make them less countable? It’s about games and their overall review score, nothing more nothing less.

      Also worth considering, if we’re being nitpicky like you to get “the best console”, is what titles are actually multi-platform and what tiles are exclusive. This might alter the numbers quite a bit. However it is, much like your statement, quite irrelevant to what this post is about ;)

  • Geralt

    Very well done. Spencer’s research sure helps separating gaming facts from fan fictions.

  • JeremyR

    I think critics are way too demanding on handheld titles, particularly on the PSP. For instance, I remember once being upset about a PSP review (or maybe preview) here of Test Drive Unlimited, complaining about the loading times. Which are miniscule! 8 seconds to go from your house to driving! For a UMD game, that’s amazing. It’s better than the 360 version.

    And many DS games (RPGs at least) get points knocked off for things like not having speech. While is possible on the DS, but probably jacks up the prices for the publisher.

  • lostinblue

    well all I gotta say is “thank you third party’s” regarding the wii statistic

    • Jhon

      Thank you. This is the kind of articles I like reading. :)

      Keep up the good work.

  • Interesting for sure. However I’m a believer of the more games the better. In my opinion the highest AMMOUNT of good-great games on a console is the important thing. In today’s wired world you can easily get an idea of what games to avoid so percentage isn’t really an issue if you’re in the know.

    Comparing PS2 to 360 is interesting. The PS2 DOMINATED the market for years and the 360 is currently adapting the same business model PLUS solid online support. I’m excited to see if the 360 can come close to the same type of market share PS2 had with these competitors though..

    Good article, really nice.

  • nate-dog7

    something to consider… i’m generalizing here a bit but here we go. psp and ds games are rated with different standards. DS games are for kids and PSP games are for an older audience and reviewers take this into account. For example “Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure” for DS scores an 82 on Metacritic while “Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII” for PSP scores 83. Is Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII really comparable in quality to Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure? Maybe if you’re 5 years old. You have to take reviews with a grain of salt.

    • That’s a good point — and also the reason I usually don’t even look at scores. They’re just too relative and depends on the reviewer, the genre, the console, etc.

      This is the 2nd time I’ve heard of Henry Hatsworth this week after not hearing about it at all. Maybe I need to check it out.

    • Max G Ex

      I think you have some irrelevant things here. Look at how many reviews Henry Hatsworth obtained. Then, look at how many reviews Final Fantasy VII obtained. Big difference isn’t it? Then, look at the genres. Crisis Core is a role-playing game. Henry Hatsworth? A puzzle game. You can’t mix those two together.
      DS and PSP games are rated on the same standard. A puzzle PSP game will be rated on the same standard as a puzzle DS game. A RPG won’t be rated the same as a puzzle game. As an example, you can’t compare Patapon with Professor Layton. They’re totally two different genres and games.
      If you want a fair comparison with FF VII go with The World Ends With You.
      “DS games are for kids”?
      Look at GTA – CW.
      Look at Loco Roco 2 and Patapon. Top games for PSP btw.

  • Wow the bell curve on the aggregate scores is beautiful. THAT is what I call a decent scale.

  • I like how there are really good games on PSP and PS3. Contrary to the past generations, I’m pleased with every game purchase I make for the PSP and PS3. It’s true, these systems have fewer games then their competitors, but they do boast awesome games, and that’s all I care about.

  • nick

    if anything it should be given points for being hard.
    thats why i love DMC or ninja gaiden.
    we need more PSP games

  • reincarnationfish

    What would be better, if you had the numbers, would be to factor in the actual sales of each game. that way you could get a stat on the actual quality of an average punter’s video game collection, which would take into account the fact that better games tend to shift more units.

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