Before going any further, it's been an incredible year for video games and gaming publishers. We've seen publishers have a great 2020, including Devolver Digital (Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, Serious Sam 4, Disc Room, Carrion), Activision (Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2, Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time), and Electronic Arts (Command & Conquer Remastered Collection, Star Wars Squadrons, NHL 21, Rocket Arena). This year's Best Publisher award ultimately came down to a two-horse race between Xbox Game Studios and PlayStation Studios. While Xbox had a great year with games like Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Tell Me Why, and Gears Tactics, it was PlayStation that stood out above the pack with some of its best games ever made.
There was so much anticipation behind The Last of Us Part II, so many people who were hoping Naughty Dog would stick the landing on their big sequel. They did so in spades, taking a mesmerizing narrative that didn't need to say anymore and managed to say so much. An unparalleled narrative mixed together with an evolution in the series' gameplay formula made The Last of Us Part II an amazing experience. It speaks to what an outstanding year PlayStation Studios had when The Last of Us Part II could have been Game of the Year any other year, but arguably isn't even their best effort of 2020.
Sucker Punch's Ghost of Tsushima released with slightly less fanfare than Naughty Dog's effort, but it proved to be an epic swansong for the PlayStation 4. Telling the story of a samurai civilization on the brink of destruction, Sucker Punch told a tale of what it means to survive while still trying to retain a sense of honor. Ghost of Tsushima was a wonder to explore and one of the most immersive games this year, showing players what it means to be a wandering samurai and what it means to fight for your people and for your honor.
That segued to the next generation. PlayStation Studios hit the new PS5 with guns blazing, trotting out two valid Game of the Year contenders in Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Demon's Souls. They're both very different kinds of games, with Spider-Man as the summer blockbuster epic and Demon's Souls as the exercise in patience and perfection. Both were incredible games, more than enough to justify the PlayStation 5 purchase by themselves. That wasn't even all PlayStation Studios had to offer on the new console, as Sackboy: A Big Adventure and Astro's Playroom proved to be pretty fun in their own ways.
This is all without even discussing the world of creation that PlayStation Studios opened up with Media Molecule's Dreams. Dreams' creation suite is unlike anything else in console gaming, opening the door for players to create whatever their imagination can bring out. It's been amazing to see complex creations, designs, and concepts followed by the "Made in Dreams" tag.
In this horrendous year that's been plagued by a pandemic, it's hard to imagine getting through it without PlayStation Studios and their hard work. That makes them the big winner of the Shacknews Best Publisher of 2020. We don't know if they'll win this again next year, given that Microsoft and Nintendo are lining up big 2021s and the other major third-party publishers have a lot planned, as well. And yet, it wouldn't surprise us if they did.
Check out the other winners from The Shacknews Awards 2020 in our Year of the Games: 2020 article.