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Expand chart
Data: Eurogamer and Axios research; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Gaming publication Eurogamer just awarded its top recommendation — "essential" — to an 11th game this year, equaling the tally for 2020. That’s despite reviewing fewer games and with two months remaining in the year.

Driving the news: That achievement was earned by the captivating virtual card game “Inscryption” and continues a season full of stand-out releases. Many are from smaller studios that are benefitting from an unusual year in games.

  • This month, Eurogamer editor-in-chief Oli Welsh observed that there’d been an “unusually great run” of games but noted that wasn’t the full story.

A few things appear to be happening at once:

  • As Welsh notes, the relative lack of big-budget games this year (thanks to COVID-related issues), has given publications more license to cover the increasingly vibrant indie gaming scene.
  • The level of craft in gaming continues to rise each year, driving a sense that games are, generally, getting better. “The stuff that comes across my Twitter thread that has 50,000 likes, from, like, a one-person team is just amazing,” Outerloop co-founder Chandana Ekanayake told Axios.
  • And then there’s coincidence, as several games that were years in development started coming out on top of each other in July and September: “To me, it seemed more like a 'planets aligned' type scenario,” said Lucas Gullbo, who co-developed one of the season’s 11 standouts, “Toem.”

If you’re curious: Eurogamer’s other nine “essential” games for 2021 have been: “Monster Hunter Rise,” “Dorfromantik,” “Wildermyth,” “Mini Motorways,” “Microsoft Flight Simulator” for Xbox, “Death’s Door,” “Deathloop,” “Outer Wilds: Echoes of the Eye” and “Metroid Dread.”

Go deeper

Philadelphia eyes proposal to ban "skill games"

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Philadelphia wants to put the kibosh on so-called "skill game" machines that populate stores throughout the city.

Why it matters: Councilmember Curtis Jones, the main sponsor of the proposal, said these machines operate outside of state regulations with little oversight in places like corner stores.

  • These "bandit machines" — which accept cash or give out cash rewards — are plaguing communities and leading to crime around businesses that offer them, Jones said.
5 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.