Metacritic reveals Xbox was the top-reviewed games publisher last year

Xbox Game Studios list
Xbox Game Studios list (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Xbox Game Studios had several considerable releases in 2021, all of which were well-received and critically acclaimed.
  • On Wednesday, review collator Metacritic published their list of "top games publishers" in 2021, with Xbox Game Studios standing at the top.
  • Xbox Game Studios is the first publisher to finish out a year with an average game score of over 85, and had three separate games ranking over 90.
  • Sony took second place, Activision Blizzard managed to hold on to fourth, and Bethesda Softworks came in at fifth place.

Xbox Game Studios is the publishing branch of Xbox that contains many of Xbox's first-party studios. 2021 was a huge year for Xbox Game Studios in general, with several sizeable releases throughout the year garnering plenty of attention from critics and players alike. On Wednesday, Metacritic — which aggregates critics and user reviews of games from across the internet — shared their ranking of the best games publishers of 2021. This time around, Xbox Game Studios ended at the top.

The Metacritic games publisher rankings compared 43 games publishers and all of their respective reviews and games that made an appearance on Metacritic in 2022. At the top of the charts is Xbox Game Studios, with five separate reviewed products featuring an average Metacritic score of 87.4. This makes Xbox Game Studios the first publisher in Metacritic history to close out the year with an average score higher than 85.

100% of Microsoft's released games were considered "good" by Metacritic standards (games with Metacritic scores of at least 75), with three of those titles being considered "great" (games with Metacritic scores of at least 90), including Forza Horizon 5, Psychonauts 2, and Microsoft Flight Simulator on Xbox. Halo Infinite also reviewed excellently, but just missed out on the "great" moniker with a Metacritic score of 87.

Microsoft beat out Sony for the number one spot, which came in second place with an average Metacritic score of 81.3, with only Destruction AllStars preventing Sony from ending the year with 100% "good" games. Activision Blizzard, surprisingly, closed out the year in fourth place despite the ongoing Activision Blizzard controversies, and before Xbox's acquisition of the company is finalized.

Bethesda Softworks, which is already a member of Xbox but publishes its games independently from Xbox Game Studios, ended the year in fifth place with several strong releases. All in all, 2021 was a fantastic year for gaming, filled with new entries to our list of best Xbox games. Hopefully, this trend will continue throughout 2022 as we look forward to upcoming Xbox games like Starfield.

Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.