While the world came to a screeching halt in 2020, the games industry adapted and roared on into one of the biggest years yet for the industry. Two major console launches and the latest installments of fan favorite franchises had the big three serving meals to gamers left and right.
So with 2020 behind us, the question remains, which company was the best to gamers in 2020? Come on a ride with us as we look at the biggest highlights from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo in 2020 to decide who was best to gamers in 2020!
The Last of Us Part II
In 2013, Naughty Dog released its swan song to the PS3 era with its modern masterpiece, The Last of Us. Following the years since its release, fans debated whether the game even needed a sequel given its open-ended ending. Well, co-directors Neil Druckmann and Haley Gross and the rest of the crew at Naughty Dog had another tale to tell, and officially unveiled The Last of Us Part II at PSX 2016.
The Last of Us Part II is nothing short of an odyssey, spinning an interweaving narrative between two protagonists that culminates it one of the most gut-wrenching finales in the medium. The game not only made the majority of game of the year lists, it won game of the year at plenty of outlets, including our very own Reader’s Choice Game of the Year of 2020.
Ghost of Tsushima
As the final first-party exclusive of the PS4 era, Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima closed the book with a bang. Taking on the role of a wavering samurai, Jin Sakai, players must defend the beautiful island of Tsushima from Mongol invaders. Ghost is rife with incredible characters, satisfying narrative and combat, all wrapped within one of the most gorgeous open worlds we have ever seen.
In fall of 2020, Sucker Punch delivered a massive update in the form of Ghost of Tsushima: Legends, a co-op multiplayer mode for the base game. For a free add-on, Legends is an incredibly rich multiplayer experience full of character classes to unlock and upgrade, campaign missions, a variety of of other multiplayer modes. All the better, the base game and Legends received a generous PS5 upgrade that enhanced the experience well beyond what was capable on PS4. We thought pretty highly of Ghost of Tsushima, giving it a 4.5/5.
While there are certainly criticisms to be had with how Sony handled the launch of the PlayStation 5, it cannot be overstated how much of a success the console has gone on to become.
Yes, we are still seeing shortages due to high demand and the limitations of this COVID era. The reveal of the console could have also been handled a bit more gracefully, considering the console itself was not revealed until midway through 2020. Consumers were given little to no heads up about when pre-orders would go live. Unless, of course, you were attuned to gaming’s oracle whom we all like to call, Geoff Keighley.
Once you look past the rocky lead up to launch, the PlayStation 5 has had one of the strongest launches in Sony’s history. Exclusives like Demon’s Souls, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and Sackboy: A Big Adventure made a strong case to pick up Sony’s console over the competition. Better yet, Astro’s Playroom is widely considered to be one the best platformers of 2020 and comes free with every console.
The DualSense, which Astro’s was built to show off, is such a wonderful innovation over the DualShock that it is worth considering when deciding between the big two.
Xbox Series X/S
If there is one thing that Microsoft can be commended for throughout 2020, it is just how transparent they were when it came to the lead up of the Series X and Series S. Since first revealing the Series X at the 2019 VGA’s, Microsoft has been keen to be consumer conscious in providing details about the “world’s most powerful console”.
From providing early looks to letting consumers know when the hardware would be available for pre-order, Microsoft trounced the competition when it came to optics.
However, much like its competition, the Series X and S also succumbed to shortages and per-order drama, due primarily to scalpers. While interest in the Series consoles was certainly high and demand was there, there was certainly a disparity to the amount of chatter between the Series’ consoles and PlayStation 5.
A major criticism during launch was that there were no true exclusives to speak of, making the case for owning a Series console at launch relatively thin. However, it can be argued that the Series consoles were never spearhead of Microsoft’s strategy to begin with. Microsoft was far more concerned with gaining attachment to the platform as a whole, and the BFG in their arsenal is Xbox Game Pass.
Xbox Game Pass
The “best deal in gaming” , as it has been coined by fans, continued to be exactly that in 2020. There’s no argument that what Microsoft continues to offer is a service that has no rival in the gaming space. Game Pass has for all intents and purposes become Microsoft’s main platform, and its mission is to introduce it to as many players as possible and in as many ways as possible. Whether it be on Series console, PC, smartphone and eventually smart TV. Microsoft wants players living within their ecosystem.
Month after month Game Pass continues to add value with new blockbuster games and the promise of Xbox first-party titles day and date as they release. In 2020, Microsoft paved way for partnerships that will continue to provide players the best bang for their buck.
Bringing EA Play’s service free to all Game Pass Ultimate subscribers was a monumental move, immediately giving players access to EA’s library of titles. However, EA Play for Xbox Game Pass for PC players will have to hold off until sometime in 2021.
However, the value of Game Pass exploded with one of the biggest acquisitions the games industry has ever seen, Microsoft’s purchase of Bethesda Softworks’ parent company, Zenimax Media.
Microsoft’s extraordinary purchase of Zenimax Media shook the games industry like nothing else in recent memory. Bethesda Softworks is responsible for the biggest franchises around from internally developed titles like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout to its published titles like Doom and Wolfenstein. Bethesda is such a powerhouse in this industry, so much so that just five years ago they began to hold their own dedicated E3 conferences.
While the ink is not yet dry on the deal as of this writing, the potential of Bethesda games launching day and date for Game Pass subscribers cannot be understated. Players with limited income will make a choice between PlayStation and it’s library of acclaimed exclusives or the Xbox platform with Game Pass, giving them immediate access to Bethesda extensive library titles on top of the third and first-party offerings.
The jury is still out on whether Bethesda games will forever be Xbox exclusive, but it’s clear that was never the real point for Microsoft.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
The early months of 2020 were bleak, to say the least, and many people were looking for distractions from the uncharted territory the world was headed towards. Nintendo came to the rescue, providing the biggest distraction they could possibly provide. Crippling financial debt, to a greedy, greedy tanuki. Yes, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a pleasant remedy to what the world was dishing out and we all accepted it with open arms.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons came when we all really needed it, and it showed. Just in little under a year, New Horizons has become one of the best selling games on the Switch at 26 million copies sold as of November. Nintendo continued to support the game throughout the year with seasonal events and they show no signs of stopping. Fair to say we loved Animal Crossing: New Horizons, giving it a 4.5/5 calling it “the definitive Animal Crossing experience”.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
While Animal Crossing: New Horizons was unquestionably a massive success for Nintendo, the rest of 2020, by mid-year, was looking a bit light. What a surprise it was then that by the fall, we were given our first look at Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, a prequel set in the 100 years before Breath of the Wild.
While musou games are almost a dime a dozen and don’t necessarily spark overt excitement from the community at large, it showed that players eagerly want more Breath of the Wild content. Age of Calamity gives us a better look at the Great Calamity and the Guardians and Divine Beasts that we only received a taste of in Breath of the Wild.
We were fairly impressed with Age of Calamity in our review, giving it a 4/5 calling it “one of the best musou-style games that Koei Tecmo and Omega Force have ever put out”.
Nintendo Switch Online
While not the most packed year for Nintendo, 2020 was still a pretty good year for the house of Mario. Nintendo Switch consoles are still flying off the shelves and it has been the top selling console in the U.S. for about two years as of this past November. So while the release schedule for 2020 was a bit light, Nintendo went for our nostalgic little hearts by releasing plenty of classic titles on Nintendo Switch Online over the past year.
For Mario’s 35th anniversary, Nintendo released the superb Super Mario All-Stars SNES collection this past Sept. All of the SNES Donkey Kong Country games received releases throughout the year alongside some other gems like Wild Guns. While we are still awaiting releases of such classics as Chrono Trigger or Earthbound, Nintendo has been fairly steady when it comes to supporting the service with classic NES and SNES titles.
So, who treated gamers best in 2020? Well, we couldn’t exactly answer that could we? It’s all subjective of course! However, while this is only a brief snapshot of the year 2020, it does paint a picture of how each company approached the year.
Who do you think treated gamers best in 2020? Sound off below! Interested in more in what we have cooking? Check out 4 New Year’s Resolutions for Nintendo to Keep in 2021 and Most Anticipated Games of 2021.