Which video game titles top gamers’ wish lists this year? Nielsen’s Top 20 Games to Watch reveals the most anticipated games of the 2011 holiday season, with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 the most coveted among active U.S. gamers. The list was developed by examining a variety of consumer measures from Nielsen’s Video Game Tracking survey, including the top five titles active gamers are considering for purchase.
To help narrow the focus of this analysis, Nielsen filtered the field to those titles releasing on at least one of the three major consoles (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii) during the timeframe of late August to late November. This year’s list underscores the various interests of gamers—as well as the strength of video game brands. All but one of the Top 20 titles stem from a franchise, with brands such as Madden NFL and The Legend of Zelda dating back more than 20 years. Deep Silver’s Dead Island represents the lone new IP included on this year’s list.
Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, an expected juggernaut for this holiday season, is desired by more than one quarter (27%) of active gamers. Microsoft’s Gears of War 3 and EA’s Madden NFL 12 follow closely behind; both titles were selected by nearly one out of every five (19%) active gamers. Apart from Gears of War 3 for Xbox 360, other platform exclusives expected to resonate strongly with consumers in the coming months include Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for Wii and Sony’s Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception for PS3.
Nielsen’s Top 20 Games to Watch is supplemented by information from NM Incite, a Nielsen McKinsey company, which analyzed the primary elements driving consumers’ online conversations around each title. Recent consumer buzz shows that those anticipating Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Revelations are excited for the return of multi-player functionality to the franchise, while gamers looking forward to Warner Bros Interactive’s Batman: Arkham City are speculating on the villains they’ll face in the new title. Fans of EA’s FIFA franchise are hoping for more pro and career mode options in the upcoming iteration, and those addicted to Microsoft’s Dance Central are rejoicing in the news that they’ll be able to import tracks from the original title into the sequel.
|Nielsen’s Top 20 Games to Watch for Holiday 2011|
as Top 5
|Key Elements of Online Conversations|
|Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3||Shooter||360, PS3, Wii, PC||Activision||27%||upcoming launch parties, changes in the new game, ‘darker mood’, hardened version vs standard|
|Gears of War 3||Shooter||360||Microsoft Game Studios||19%||high anticipation for launch, best prices at retailers, sharing info on codes and downloads|
|Madden NFL 12||Sports (Simulated)||360, PS3, Wii, PSP||Electronic Arts||19%||challenge matches, calling in sick in order to play|
|Assassin’s Creed: Revelations||Action / Adv||360, PS3, PC||Ubisoft||17%||downloadable previews, multi-player functionality|
|Batman: Arkham City||Action / Adv||360, PS3, PC||Warner Bros Interactive||15%||new villains in the game|
|The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword||Action / Adv||Wii||Nintendo||14%||nostalgia for series brings back ‘old school’ gamers, similar feel to Ocarina Of Time|
|Battlefield 3||Shooter||360, PS3, PC||Electronic Arts||12%||many feel this title is superior to competing titles in the genre, differences in game performance by platform|
|Just Dance 3||Music / Rhythm||360, PS3, Wii||Ubisoft||12%||excitement for new tracks announced|
|NBA 2K12||Sports (Simulated)||360, PS3, Wii, PC, PSP||2K Interactive||9%||online demos, discussions of how to adjust schedule to allow more time to play|
|Need for Speed: The Run||Racing / Driving||360, PS3, Wii, PC, 3DS||Electronic Arts||9%||exclusive Porsche models in the game, anticipation as a holiday gift|
|Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception||Action / Adv||PS3||Sony Computer Entertainment||9%||high expectations of this title being even better than the previous iterations|
|Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games||Sports (Arcade)||Wii, 3DS||SEGA||8%||gaming experts mention this title alongside other titles announced at the 3DS conference|
|LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7||Action / Adv||360, PS3, Wii, PC, PSP, DS, 3DS||Warner Bros Interactive||8%||sharing previews and speculation on the upcoming game|
|FIFA Soccer 12||Sports (Simulated)||360, PS3, Wii, PC, PSP, DS, 3DS||Electronic Arts||8%||FIFA vs Madden, desires for more pro and career mode options in the new release|
|The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim||RPG||360, PS3, PC||Bethesda Softworks||8%||M rating / graphic nature not a deterrent, daily countdown until release|
|Dead Island||Action / Adv||360, PS3, PC||Deep Silver||7%||looking for gaming partners for online co-op|
|Kinect Sports: Season 2||Sports (Arcade)||360||Microsoft Game Studios||6%||high expectations for the upcoming sequel, considerable attention from casual gamers|
|Resistance 3||Shooter||PS3||Sony Computer Entertainment||4%||franchise fans call it a ‘must have’ ‘game of the year’|
|Dance Central 2||Music / Rhythm||360||Microsoft Game Studios||4%||enthusiasm for the ability to import songs from the original title|
|Deus Ex: Human Revolution||Shooter||360, PS3, PC||Square Enix||3%||best prices at retailers, differences in game performance by platform|
While Action/Adventure games hold the most spots in the Top 20, the list is a testament to the diverse interests of today’s gamers—from the intense action of First Person Shooters like Square Enix’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution, to the energetic enthusiasm of Music / Rhythm games such as Ubisoft’s Just Dance 3, to the epic sense of adventure in Bethesda’s RPG Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Sports and racing titles like 2K’s NBA 2K12 and EA’s Need For Speed: The Run are represented as well.
** Top 5 is the proportion of respondents that rank each title in their top five titles being considered for purchase. Percents shown are among those active gamers that qualify for at least one platform on which the title is being released.