With so many great games, 2017 had to have some strong development studios and publishers behind it.
We deliberated during our GamesBeat Decides podcast to figure out which gaming company made the most of the year. We came up with three finalists, but it was clear which one would be the winner.
Sega’s identity has been shifting ever since the company got out of the console-making game in the early 2000s, But 2017 saw Sega find a comfortable place in the game industry. Its 2013 acquisition of Atlus paid off in a big way with Persona 5, which launched for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 in April and has sold over 2 million copies.
Sega has also found success on PC, releasing Creative Assembly’s Dawn of War: Warhammer II strategy game in September. The company also put out Sonic Mania, which brought the hedgehog mascot back to his 16-bit roots, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC in August.
Runner-up: Annapurna Interactive
Annapurna Interactive published two of the best independent games of the year. What Remains of Edith Finch is a story-based adventure game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC that we called haunting and creative. Gorogoa, meanwhile, is an ethereal, mind-bending puzzle game for Switch, PC, and iOS. Both provided some of the most interesting experiences of 2017.
I can’t help but think of The Lion King: “The king has returned.” That’s the line that the wise monkey Rafiki says when Simba decides to return home. But the quote applies even better to Nintendo’s 2017.
In 2016, Nintendo seemed like it was beginning to stumble its way out of a rough patch. We were looking forward to its Switch, a new home console/portable hybrid, and the NES Classic Edition was making headlines by being nearly impossible to find … and selling out wherever it appeared. Nintendo’s mobile efforts also started in full force with the launch of Super Mario Run in November 2016.
But we couldn’t have guessed just how strong a 2017 Nintendo would have. After the disappointing Wii U went off to the graveyard, the Switch has manged to sell 10 million consoles since its launch in March. It’s already nearing the Wii U’s 13.56 million lifetime sales.
Nintendo has supported the Switch with a steady stream of quality games. Every month since launch, there has been at least one title worth checking out. Some of these include two of the best-reviewed games of the year, including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. We gave both games a score of 100/100.
Even outside of Game of the Year contenders, the Switch has seen fun titles with stuff like the multiplayer shooter Splatoon 2, the fighting game Arms, and the role-playing game Xenoblade Chronicles 2. The Switch is also already receiving significant third-part support with titles like Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle from Ubisoft and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim from Bethesda. And the system has become a comfortable home for indie and digital hits like Stardew Valley and Golf Story.
Nintendo’s 2017 success goes beyond the Switch. It’s mobile efforts continued with Fire Emblem: Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, and Nintendo’s iOS and Android efforts are bringing in millions of dollars in revenue.
The Japanese gaming giant even managed to top the NES Classic with the SNES Classic. The new machine once again makes it easy to play favorites from the past on modern TVs, but the SNES Classic stands out by offering an unreleased game, Star Fox 2, in its library. Nintendo also did a much better job making sure people could actually find an SNES Classic.
The House of Mario needed a strong 2017. Now that we’re at the end of the year, it’s hard to imagine how it could have gone any better for Nintendo.