Holiday Season 2016: The Most Anticipated Video Games

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The holiday season delivers joy in a wide variety of ways…family gatherings, fellowship, delectable meals, the spirit of giving…and lots of new video games. Great games can arrive at any time of the year, but publishers often save their best efforts for the holiday shopping season. So what’s topping gamers’ wish lists this year? According to overall anticipation levels measured by Nielsen Game Rank™, the most sought after games on each platform due between October and December 2016 cover a wide range of genres, many fan favorite franchises, and even a few titles riding on the virtual reality (VR) wave.

The First-Person Shooter genre has always been one of the more popular genres for many gamers, and with the recent surge in eSports, these games have grown even more prevalent as a result. It should come as no surprise then that two games in this genre are deadlocked as the most anticipated games atop the multi-platform list. Gamers are eager to heed Activision’s perennial call to arms with this year’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, with a 96% anticipation level (relative to the pre-release anticipation level of all other previous games on the platform). And they’re just as excited about EA’s Battlefield series returning to its military warfare roots with Battlefield 1, also clocking in at 96%. This is the first fourth-quarter release for the series in three years, which likely adds to the anticipation for the game.

Right behind these two games is the long-awaited Final Fantasy XV (95%), Square Enix’s next mainline title in its epic role-playing game (RPG) series. Continuing the theme of long-awaited sequels is 2K’s Mafia III (83%), which takes the action to Louisiana in the late ‘60s. And while there is no mainline continuation for WB’s Arkham series this holiday season, many gamers are looking forward to revisiting the earlier adventures on “8th Gen” consoles with Batman: Return to Arkham (83%). Rounding out the highly anticipated multi-platform titles are Capcom’s Dead Rising 4 (79%), EA’s Titanfall 2 (77%), and Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs 2 (75%).

Microsoft leveraged Halo for its exclusive offering during last year’s holiday season and has tapped another immensely popular franchise to carry the Xbox mantle this year, with Gears of War 4 (99%) showing similar pre-launch anticipation levels on Xbox One as last year’s Halo 5: Guardians. For Nintendo, fans of Wii U are highly anticipating the exclusive Paper Mario: Color Splash (92%) this holiday. Gamers on 3DS have lofty hopes for the new extensions of the Pokemon franchise, Pokemon Moon (99%) and Pokemon Sun (98%), and Mario also makes another appearance on 3DS this year in Mario Party: Star Rush (86%). Nintendo’s handheld gamers are also eagerly awaiting the second installment of Disney Magical World 2 (79%).

Sony’s most-anticipated PS4 exclusive—Batman: Arkham VR (95%)—debuts on the upcoming PSVR. The PSVR reboot of Battlezone (81%) also makes the list of highly anticipated PS4 exclusives. But PS4 players who aren’t ready to take the PSVR plunge yet have other Sony exclusives they are keen to try. Some might not consider Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration (91%) to be a platform exclusive given that the original version launched for Xbox One last year and PC later on, but the PS4 release is the first time this enhanced version is available in one package. And PS4 exclusive The Last Guardian (85%) represents one of the few new properties among this year’s most anticipated titles. On PS Vita, the most anticipated exclusive title is Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors (89%).

The most coveted PC exclusive comes from one of the stalwart franchises for the platform—2K’s Civilization VI(94%). A pair of manager simulators from SEGA are also highly anticipated among PC gamers: this year’s installment of Football Manager 2017 (86%) and the new series Motorsport Manager (83%). And another new sim, Planet Coaster (81%), rounds out the highly anticipated exclusives for the platform.

A couple titles did not make the list but still had relatively high scores on one platform or another. Bethesda’sDishonored 2 is generating enthusiasm among PC gamers (78%), while the new Final Fantasy off-shoot World of Final Fantasy is favored far more by PS4 gamers (86%) than PS Vita gamers.

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