A comprehensive and spin-free breakdown of system launches since 2004

We have one more week of releases until the Vita has hit the 4 month mark in the US a few days later (June 22nd, of course).  During this time we’ve seen a fair amount of “VITA HAS NO GAMES” by clever folks on the internet who like to parrot lines without using their brains. If you own a Vita and have spent some time looking you know this isn’t true. Well, like any other system, if you don’t like the games that’s one thing.  One could say “PC HAS NO GAMES!!!” even though there’s at least 20 releases a week on Steam – if they hate PC games.  That’s an absurd stance to take in an argument. But we will get into how these games are viewed critically as well.

We have no idea if any smaller games are going to pop up on the store later tonight (as of the time of this writing the update with Gravity Rush and MGS HD isn’t up) or next week, so we will go off the assumption that they won’t.  I’m also going to be working off the assumption that Lego Batman will release next week, though the addition of that one game will not have any major impact on what I’m about to lay out in front of you.

There is no argument that I prefer the Playstation systems. I like to think I’m a reasoned man but I’ve seen men more mature than me devolve into fanboy arguments and I certainly have as well. My aim with this piece is not that. This is purely to get the numbers out there.

So instead of being long-winded lets just look at the first four months of releases for each system out since the Nintendo DS in 2004, according to Metacritic and Wikipedia.

Games released in first four months (in North America only):

Wii: 60   (includes retail and Virtual Console)

Vita: 48 (includes retail and PSN), (Does not include minis)

Xbox 360: 46 (includes retail and XBLA), (XBLIG didn’t exist during this time frame)

3DS: 40  (includes retail, Virtual Console, built-in OS games, and Wiiware games)

PS3:  34 (includes retail and PSN)  (Minis did not exist during this time period)

PSP: 29 (only includes retail as there were no download only titles or Minis during this time period)

DS: 17 (only includes retail as there were no Virtual Console or Wiiware titles during this time period)


Right.  So there we have it.  Facts.  Math.  Science. Numbers. Whatever you want to call it. Though one can argue (and probably should argue) that it’s not how many games you have, it’s the quality of the games. Each system has shovelware, no doubt about it. For the Vita this is mostly in the form of the A.R. games (of which there are 4, though I really like the Tank one) but the early days of the PSN and XBLA have some absolutely horrid titles in there as well.  And even the most ardent Nintendo fan can’t argue that the vast majority of the 50 Wii games out in the first four months are any good.   The Wii’s numbers are a bit skewed because none of the Virtual Console games got enough reviews to get tracked.  But take heart Nintendo fans, we know your favorite company has the most brilliant catalog of old games in the business.  This piece is about numbers though, not opinions (even if I just gave some *cough*).

So of the lists above, lets break down how many of each has a Metacritic of 70% or higher.

Wii:  60 games — 15 with a Metacritic of 70% or higher.

Vita: 48 games —  21 with a Metacritic of 70% or higher.

360: 46 games — 33 with a Metacritic of 70% or higher

3DS: 40 games — 11 with a Metacritic of 70% or higher  (note that all three versions of Nintendogs were counted individually)

PS3: 34 games — 20 with a Metacritic of 70% or higher

PSP:  29 games — 17 with a Metacritic of 70% or higher

DS:  17 games — 5 with a Metacritic of 70% or higher

So what should we take from all of these numbers? I am going to write an opinion piece on it shortly as I wanted to have this just be about the numbers, but a few things are clear. The Vita has the second most games and it has the second most games with a metacritic of 70% or higher in the 4 month time period after launch.  The meme “VITA HAS NO GAMES!” is factually incorrect, unless that person also feels that every system in the last 8 years also had no games.

Another fact that even someone who despises Microsoft can’t ignore…  they had one helluva launch and by far had the most critically acclaimed games.  The DS, compared to the others, had a horrendous launch. But if we look at lifetime sales of all the systems above, the DS is head and shoulders above the rest.

The numbers are interesting and I will be breaking them down further.  But here they are now, in their naked glory.


10 thoughts on “A comprehensive and spin-free breakdown of system launches since 2004

  1. Although similar arguments are made for every system at every launch I quite enjoy these little lists. At this time I now ask myself. Why do we clamor for so many games and why are we constantly let down by launches even though by all accounts they are getting better? Is it because we all squired our childhood consoles long after launch when a plethora of games were available? Do we all remember some magic moment when we got home with a launch system within that 4 month launch window and sat down to play Mario, Sonic, or some other highly acclaimed title that we just feel we’re missing nowadays? What is it? I’ve often found myself claiming “such and such console has no games” but the more I think about it the more I remember dumping my 64 for a PS1 and SNES cause I had “nothing to play” on it. I remember being burned by the launch of the PS2 and vowing “never again will I buy a console within a year of release yet there I was, day 1 for the PSP and 3DS. I would have been burned by the PSP, and slightly was, if it wasn’t for it being cracked wide open so early. I wasn’t burned by the 3DS cause I knew what I was getting into and did it for the 3D. I’ve played the shit out of my Vita but I can’t help but notice them going for $100 dollars less than I paid for mine with more add ons than what I got. The truth is the first year of every console is a tough one and console manufacturers need a good plan set for boosting that year and us customers need to open our eyes and know what we are getting into by being early adopters. I just hope Sony doesn’t believe all these naysayers when they pronounce the Vita dead cause as far as the press conference showed me, they had buried it the week before.

  2. I think the biggest issue with the Vita is that so far there is nothing that says “wow I really need a Vita to play this”. The system needs a blockbuster game that can’t be done on any other platform that shows what the system can do. At the very least a game that shows that the Vita version is the version to own. An example of this I guess would be in March 06 when the 360 had both GRAW and Oblivion on the system. Two big franchises on the system only a few months after launch. Those two games sold systems, alot of systems. Sony needs a winning combo like that to move units. Or a badassed wonderbook app on the Vita.

    Vita La August!! can’t come soon enough.

    • I think the main problem is marketing. Everyone who really wanted a Vita has one, the problem now is letting everyone else know. Assasin’s Creed and Black Ops Declassified will be marketed to the hilt by Ubisoft and Activision, but Sony need to do more. DS, and 3DS is everywhere, in every magazine. Nintendo have learned this over the last few years. Advertising is not cheap, but they need to take the hit to up the install base of the system; even sell it for £150 ish, or include a 4GB card for free with the unit for like £170 or so. Once you have more than the estimated 2.5-3.5m Vitas, other publishers will listen.

      Monster Hunter games have sold millions of games, and more importantly, millions of PSPs. The 3DS recovered because the prices cuts happened and the titles came. Sony needs to do this before christmas to recover the slow start.

  3. Pingback: A comprehensive and spin-free breakdown of system launches … | BestCheapGames

  4. I agree with a lot of what both of you are saying, and I do plan on breaking the numbers down tomorrow (well, i guess technically today). I just wanted something sterile up first, a comparison that says it’s not as bad as people make it out to be.

    I’ll hang my opinion other there soon though for all of you to agree with, disagree with or call me a stupid motherfucker. I hope it drives conversation though. And I hope Sony is having the same conversations themselves. The Vita deserves more than where its at right now. That – I think – we can all agree on.

  5. I owned a 360 at launch. It was an overall lousy launch. I bought only 2 games, COD2 and Condemned. EA’s sports titles were widely criticized as being the worst products that EA had put out. Madden and Tiger Woods were absolute low points for those franchises, yet your arbitrary metacritic ratings have those games in positive territory. To be blunt, both titles stunk and were severely feature deficient. Sorry, but numbers don’t tell the true story.

  6. I also owned a 360 at launched and loved the bejesus out of it. There are certainly overrated games in that list, but the overall quality of that launch was pretty fantastic.

    And yes, numbers don’t tell the true story. I tried to make that clear in the article. It’s just one piece of a larger puzzle and that’s all I meant to represent it as.

  7. Vita is a piece of trash right now.
    It cant even open a simple.txt document. My cell phone can do that!

    Sony is acting like it is doing us a favor by selling it’s customers an overpriced $300+ TOY.

    And, please dont get me started on the whole gimped functionality of actually buying games for the system without a PS3.

  8. I wish I could say I was the one who posted that but I’m not, I thinks he’s being serious but I really can’t tell.

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