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Top video games and more from a tumultuous year

"The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" (Courtesy of Nintendo)
"The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" (Courtesy of Nintendo)

Each year, I poll NPR staff and contributors on their favorite games. In 2023, we featured more than ever: a whopping 97 titles, up from 60 in 2022.

That quantity speaks to the network’s diverse range of opinions, and to the strength of the release calendar which brought new blockbusters and indie standouts every month. According to Axios analysis of the review aggregator site Metacritic, 2023 had more titles with a 90/100 rating or above than any year in the past two decades.

Critical and commercial success, however, didn’t always trickle down to industry workers — an estimated 10,000 game developers lost their jobs by the close of the year. Meanwhile, the industry’s largest companies consolidated further. Microsoft finally cleared antitrust hurdles to acquire Activision Blizzard for a mind-boggling $69 billion.

Despite such tumult, 2023 will doubtless go down as one of the most significant years in the medium, boasting hits like “Tears of the Kingdom,” “Baldur’s Gate 3,” and “Hogwarts Legacy,” along with massive crossovers with TV and film, from the “Super Mario Bros.” and “Five Nights At Freddy’s” movies to HBO’s acclaimed “The Last of Us” series.

While we don’t rank games for NPR’s annual Games of the Year list, some are more popular than others. I ran the numbers on the most submitted titles out of nearly 200 entries. Here are the top 13:

“Lies of P” (Courtesy of Neowiz)

Tied for 5th place: Outer space, Spider-Men and Pinnochio

  • “Dead Space”
  • “Lies of P”
  • “Marvel’s Spider-Man 2”
  • “Starfield”

Tied for 4th place: Experimental epics, indie darlings and ‘Star Wars’

  • “Alan Wake 2”
  • “Dave the Diver”
  • “Hi-Fi Rush”
  • “Jusant”
  • “Star Wars Jedi: Survivor”

Tied for 3rd place: Huge franchises fourever

  • “Diablo 4”
  • “Resident Evil 4”

“Baldur’s Gate 3” (Courtesy of Larian Studios)

2nd place: The triumphant return of a ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ series

“Baldur’s Gate 3”

“The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” (Courtesy of Nintendo)

1st place: Nintendo’s best-selling Switch game

“The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.