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Best Publishers of 2018

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Best Publishers of 2018

Best Publishers of 2018

It’s award season here at Twinfinite, so it’s time to reflect on the best publishers of 2018. Voted on by our editors, the following publishers consistently put out the most exciting and diverse range of games this year. We’ve compiled a shortlist of five companies, crowning one the overall winner.

Honorable Mention: Sega

Senior Editor Hayes Madsen: Sega, more and more, has been showing signs of returning to their former glory, and 2018 was an exemplary year for the company. They released quite a few critically acclaimed games throughout the year.

Perhaps most surprising of all was the release of two different Yakuza games, both of which reviewed incredibly well. The Yakuza series has continued to grow in interest and popularity in the west, garnering more attention than ever before. We even saw the release of a Fist of the North Star Yakuza spin-off.

2018 also saw a stellar new version of one of 2017’s best games with Sonic Mania Plus, and even brought about the return of some classic series. Shenmue I & II remastered the classics for modern consoles, Valkyria Chronicles 4 took the strategy series back to its roots, and Two Point Hospital let fans of Theme Hospital once again run their own wacky medical building.

The year capped off with a strong showing from Persona, seeing the release of Persona 3 and 5 Dancing and the megaton announcement of Joker making his way to Smash Bros. Ultimate. Sega set themselves up for another strong year in 2019. With Judgement from the Yakuza team, Shin Megami Tensei V, and Total War Three Kingdoms. It certainly looks like Sega’s momentum won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

Best Publishers of 2018

Honorable Mention: Square Enix

Senior Editor Hayes Madsen: Square Enix has certainly had a bit of a rough patch the last few years, but 2018 may show that things are on the upswing for the company. It certainly wasn’t a perfect year, but more successes than failures highlighted it.

Chief among those successes was Square Enix’s surprisingly robust support of the Nintendo Switch. The publisher launched one of the most critically-acclaimed games of the year with the Switch exclusive Octopath Traveler, which quickly managed to sell over one million copies.

Additionally, Square Enix delivered The World Ends With You Final Remix, World of Final Fantasy Maxima, and Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition, with tons more Final Fantasy ports announced for Switch in 2019.

Of course, there wasn’t just one big JRPG released this year as Dragon Quest XI garnered massive attention as well, even earning a 5/5 in our review. Easily one of the best games of the year, with its release in the west Dragon Quest XI managed to break 4 million in total sales.

The year also saw the release of major western games for the company like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Just Cause 4, and the first episode of Life is Strange 2. You can also add onto this strong continued support of Final Fantasy XIV.

While 2018 was certainly a strong showing, perhaps most importantly Square Enix has set themselves up for an even bigger year in 2019. Kingdom Hearts III hype is building to critical mass, and a host of other promising titles are lined up like Left Alive, Dragon Quest Builders 2, and the continuation of Life is Strange 2.

Best Publishers of 2018

Second Runner-Up: Ubisoft

Guides Editor Chris Jecks: Say what you will about Ubisoft, but in recent years, ever since the Assassin’s Creed: Unity incident, the publisher-cross-developer has been all about improving the quality of its experiences.

There’s the occasional hiccup in performance every now and then, but in 2018, it managed to deliver some of the most entertaining, unique, and fleshed out experiences I’ve had the pleasure of playing through this year.

Kicking things off in March, Far Cry 5 delivered the explosive, chaotic open world action the series is known for, but in a setting that landed considerably closer to home than the series’ past exotic settings.

Hope County, Montana was a sheer delight to explore as we fought off the Joseph Seed and his cultists, providing ample side content to keep you exploring the world for hours on end.

Then we got The Crew 2, a game which was by no means perfect, but still felt like a notable improvement on its predecessor. If anything, it’s a clear example of the ambition that Ubisoft and developer Ivory Tower have at their cores, attempting to offer enormous worlds for players to enjoy air, land, and sea vehicles however they wish.

The VR game Transference, that came courtesy of Elijah Wood’s studio, once again shows that Ubisoft isn’t content with just sitting back and doing the same old thing. In adopting this emerging technology and combining it with dark storytelling, Transference was one of the more harrowing and immersive VR titles we’ve played this year.

And then we come to the big one, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (sorry Starlink, you were a bit of a flop, after all). While many perceived it to simply be a reskin of Origins, Odyssey went above and beyond many fans’ expectations.

Its naval combat was enthralling, the threat of bounties was always looming over us, and it’s without a shadow of a doubt one of the most beautiful games to release in 2018. While Assassin’s Creed Origins saw the series begin to transition from simple action adventure into more of an RPG, Odyssey was the series realizing its potential within this new genre.

It’s been a busy year for Ubisoft, and with the likes of Far Cry: New Dawn, Trials Rising, The Division 2, Skull & Bones, and Beyond Good and Evil 2 on the horizon, the publisher shows no sign of slowing down.

Best Publishers of 2018

Runner-Up: Nintendo

Mario Tennis Aces

Contributor Tony Cole-Cocking: Nintendo remains one of the industry’s most ballyhooed developers, and for good reason. Not only are they an exemplary standard for innovation and playability, but they still maintain the core value of gaming: that it should be fun, first and foremost.

Less is spoken of Nintendo’s track record as a publisher, and in 2018, they continued to add to their sizeable cache of quality titles. Their in-house triumphs lead the way as usual, with releases big and small dotted throughout the year.

Though Mario Tennis Aces, Super Mario Party, and Kirby Star Allies could be surmised as appetite whetters more than anything, they capped the season off with blockbusters in Pokemon Let’s Go and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the latter of which deserves consideration for the 2018 game of the year.

Bolster this with collaborative efforts like Octopath Traveler and ports of the Bayonetta titles, and you’ve got a catalog that can stand proudly alongside their barnstorming efforts of 2017, with more major franchises still in the holster for next year and beyond.

Best Publishers of 2018

Winner: Sony

God of War

Features Editor Alex Gibson: 2018 is another notch on Sony‘s belt after having built some serious momentum over the past few years. The publisher’s games seem to consistently have an edge in production value, leading the industry forward with a commitment to quality that we just aren’t seeing elsewhere.

What’s ironic is that in an industry increasingly dominated by online, multiplayer experiences, Sony’s success has actually been built on very old-fashioned design principles. They’re a bastion for the single-player, story-driven video games that we’ve heard so many write off.

But the sales numbers and what is a very obviously Sony-dominated industry mindshare tell the real story: Sony has its blueprint nailed down, and the audience is responding in kind.

Hugely impressive AAA titles like God of War, Spider-Man, and Detroit Become Human earned critical acclaim and flew off store shelves. Elsewhere, clever third-party exclusivity deals with companies like Level-5 and Square Enix has reinforced the message that the most diverse range of video games can only be played on Sony hardware.

To top it all off, Sony’s new initiative to remake classic PlayStation games like Shadow of the Colossus and the Spyro series has been a huge boon for the company. They’re managing to keep their hardware steaming forward by approaching consumers from all angles, from cutting-edge new content to playing to nostalgic heartstrings. It’s been an impressive strategy to watch unfold.

Looking forward to 2019, who would bet against them to keep on charging forward? There’s already a handful of exciting AAA content, teased remakes, and the inevitable third-party exclusivity deals that will continue to establish the PS4 as an industry-leading platform and Sony as a curator of the world’s best developers.

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