Blizzard conquers Develop 100

Annual list of world's most bankable development houses topped by the WOW machine; Nintendo bumped into second place.

UK trade magazine Develop has published its annual list of the most bankable game studios. The chart is based on UK, US, and Japanese sales figures, as well as more nebulous benchmarks such as their impact on nonretail channels, critical acclaim, and general industry standing.

Last year's chart--the last to be based purely on retail sales--saw Nintendo oust EA Canada from the top of the chart as the overwhelming success of Nintendo's first-party games pushed EA's sports franchises out of the limelight. This year, it's the resurgent Japanese giant's turn to be pushed aside by American behemoth Blizzard Entertainment.

The Californian studio--estimated to employ 2,700 people across the globe, primarily in customer service--was called out for generating $100 million (£66.1million) every single month from World of Warcraft. The company also released the fastest-selling PC game of all time in the form of the MMOG's second expansion pack, Wrath of the Lich King. Blizzard delivered $1.34 billion to the coffers of its megalithic parent, Activision Blizzard, during the course of 2008.

Nintendo came in second, in no small part thanks to the success of evergreen games Mario Kart DS, Brain Training, Nintendogs, and New Super Mario Bros, which all sold in excess of four million copies in 2008, despite all but one of them having been originally released in early 2005. Also called out were the successes of Mario Kart Wii (13 million copies sold in 2008), Wii Fit (10 million copies sold), and Wii Play (8 million copies in the US alone, topping the annual Wii software chart in the process).

Rockstar North, whose third-place position bumped 2007 winner EA Canada into fourth place, was the UK's standard-bearer thanks to the massive success of GTAIV. Traveller's Tales, maker of the Lego-based games, and Little Big Planet developer Media Molecule also made it into the top 20. Lionhead snuck into the chart at number 22 thanks to the success of Fable 2.

There are other interesting rivalries reflected in the Develop chart positions. Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics is ranked above Square Enix--despite Square's recent buyout of Eidos, which publishes the Tomb Raider franchise. Then there's the placing of Neversoft 10 places above Harmonix; the two rival Guitar Hero/Rock Band studios were placed at 15 and 26, respectively.

Treyarch's place one slot above Infinity Ward may cause some ripples of dissent among Call of Duty fans, but it makes sense financially due to the success of Call of Duty: World at War during 2008, and the moderate success of movie tie-in Quantum of Solace.

American studios led the way overall, with 29 entries in the top 100; 25 of the top 100 were British, 23 were Japanese, 14 Canadian, two South Korean (Nexon and NCsoft), two French (Ubisoft Paris and Gameloft), and for the first time, two Australian studios (Krome and Blue Tongue) made the list. The list was rounded off by single entries for Sweden (EA DICE), Germany (Crytek), Iceland (CCP), and Norway (Funcom).

The full chart can be seen on the Develop 100 site.

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Discussion

81 comments
JaredTrotterboy
JaredTrotterboy

though I've played WOW only a few times in my life haha

JaredTrotterboy
JaredTrotterboy

I love Blizzard, always have. thier amazing-ness is outstandingly cool.

spacecat
spacecat

it would be interesting to see which company takes the top spot this year

insanitycheck3
insanitycheck3

it would be fun to work for a company like blizzard

zinoalex
zinoalex

Blizzard is great.They are the only company that has never made a "flop"!(The GBA Blackthorne was close but even it does not qualify.Diablo, Starcraft, Warcraft, WOW and all the sequels and additions are all fantastic.They deserve all the accolades they receive.

relset
relset

I love Blizzard, I`ve played all of their games, exept WoW becouse after a month of playing "I had no life" :D not to mention that if u are not careful enough, any Blizzard game could be the same, that`s why Blizz rocks :)

deanparkr
deanparkr

I noticed Ensemble Studios has been left out the rankings. Just because the studio was axed doesn't mean they dont deserve the be recognized. In previous years the studio was between #50-60. Notings its sales of Age of Empires.

acura19
acura19

whell that was not very unaspected. with the million dollar franchise

fps_d0minat0r
fps_d0minat0r

@ gameking5000 btw more then 11.5m smoke and drink even thought they know its bad for them......so thats not an excuse.

fps_d0minat0r
fps_d0minat0r

@ gameking5000 because they think its worth spending their time on rather then socialising with real people and they think by ranking thier gonna make a name for them selves. if they wanted to have fun then they wouldnt play a grinding game for years and years......because thats not fun. i have nothing against WoW, its just that mmorpgs are a waste of life. If you spend a lot of time then you waste life, if you dont then you remain a noob at the game so your still wasting your life.

gameking5000
gameking5000

@fps_d0minat0r Why do 11.5 million people play it then?

StSk8ter29
StSk8ter29

I snore even hearing someone say WoW, let alone playing it. It's not that it's a bad game i'm just tired of it, besides even with the "easier" leveling it still takes fooooooorrrrrreeeeeeeeevvvvvvvveeeeeeeer. I'm interested in seeing what new mmo they are working on though, and i'll most likely buy Diablo 3.

KhanhAgE
KhanhAgE

Great to see two Australian developers making it into the list (...even though they make less than stellar titles).

cmenetime2
cmenetime2

This is the sign of a hater: fps-"they hardly make updates and their graphics have never seemed to improve since it was released years ago......and the price their charging is just a rip-off for a game of that standard." Fact: Graphic is has improved so has the depth (especially), The game updates every other patch of awesome endgame content, there are plenty of things to do in the game. Lastly, only newbs finds this game boring because it frustrate their lack of capability. However, the price is a ripoff, but they keep it high because they can.

Ospov
Ospov

no surprise here really. tons of people play WoW and pay a monthly fee. they're just going to sell even more when SC2 and D3 come out.

method115
method115

@ fps_d0minat0r If someone is having fun playing a game how is it wasting there life?You could say this about any game.

fps_d0minat0r
fps_d0minat0r

@ ratavaquera servers for WoW dont cost £66.1m per month so stop lying. thats the money the shareholders bank, invest or spend while u guys waste ur life on a game and get no-where.

fps_d0minat0r
fps_d0minat0r

what did blizzard get it for??? they hardly make updates and their graphics have never seemed to improve since it was released years ago......and the price their charging is just a rip-off for a game of that standard.

gameking5000
gameking5000

The top 2 companies are both deserving of a that great honour

shakensparco
shakensparco

Treyarch higher than Infinity Ward? Just wait till Modern Warfare 2 comes out. It frustrates me that a company that only makes decent games is higher than the vastly superior one. CoD 2 was way better than 3. And 4 is way better than WaW

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

3D Realms should've been numba 1, LOL.

DontEatCream
DontEatCream

Blizzard? Mediocre? Ouch, that's a low blow. Granted, I don't think they're perfect, but the games that they've made in the last 15 years are all outstanding in terms of gameplay, accessibility, and sheer fun. They know their stuff. Oh, and Warhammer and Warhammer 40K is based off Lord of the Rings and Starship Troopers. Really, originality is overrated. :-D

AncientDozer
AncientDozer

Greed, certainly. I agree with you, Paynee. But that isn't the greatest crime. All they do is exceed at mediocrity. When you get right down to it, that's all it is. Above par at best. I mean, they are good games and everything but when have they come up with something that was wholly their idea? Diablo is the only thing that comes to mind but I can't help but feel some doubt there. Warcraft and Starcraft have been built on the backs of other franchises such as Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000. We're not talking faint resemblance or even homage. Straight up copy and paste with the occasional paint job change. Their game mechanics and graphics haven't really been that revolutionary either. But I will concede one thing: the games are fun to play and easy to get into. Ease is probably the key factor here and what contributes to their success.

Paynee
Paynee

I have nothing against Blizzard...they are fine game developers. But for what they do put out, I find them to be the epitome of greed. Rubs me the wrong way.

okassar
okassar

Blizzard,even Activision-Blizzard as a whole,just owns in every way possible.

DrewKid4
DrewKid4

I'm actually glad to see Blizzard at the top. They do a good job of not only releasing good games, but taking their gamers input on what to do. A big problem I have are for those game developers who still produce games with "next-gen" graphics and "next-gen" aka "really crappy" gameplay and singleplayer storylines ahem, EA. Like, revolutionary graphics are cool for...a couple minutes? I dislike that games like Assassins Creed and Halo 3 can be raved about so much, yet arent long enough or have major gameplay issues. WoW has thrived off of early 2000s graphics but is really FUN to play, thus making it successful. It seems asinine that this basic root of gaming isn't even followed by those who make most of the games out there today.

Ghost777
Ghost777

@Oni If you are referring to Blizzard it is because their success has gone to their heads that they are still successfull. They know if they put out a quality game it will sell and they will excel. It is because they are willing to take 15 years to make a game that they are loved. Lol just realized D3 is the new Duke Nukem Forever.

klugenbeel
klugenbeel

@fredwv, Lost Vikings, that game sucked! But hey, that was in their early days...the real question is, name a bad game they made since Lost Viking! Now that is a hard one! :-)

klugenbeel
klugenbeel

@smbius, In fact some of us, have Real Life friends who play WoW as well. I know for WoW haters, that is hard to comprehend! lol And some of us, even get our girlfriends into playing WoW, surprising how easy it was to get my gf to try and and now like it. WoW haters just want to put you down smbius, don't let them bother you. Play on Khadgar by chance?

fredwv
fredwv

you know why blizzard is #1? They don't release cruddy games. Name one bad game that Blizzard has released. Anyone?

Oni
Oni

Just hope all their success doesn't go to their heads.

Merl57
Merl57

Ugh monthly fees

smbius
smbius

@klugenbeel - best said

smbius
smbius

@fiskefyren WoW player here. I have friends in real life as do most WoW players. If you don't understand WoW, no need to generalize and put out blanket statements.

drangel_jam
drangel_jam

I'd like to know much EPIC has been making, with so many games using th Ue3, and the tremendous success of GoW2.

Ohaidere
Ohaidere

If you can't play with people (Friends IRL or people you met in game) then WoW is going to be pretty boring for you. I played WoW for 3 years on and off. I was also in the Marines... you going to tell me I have no friends and have to play WoW to have a pretend life? OH NOES!

fiskefyren
fiskefyren

its sorta sad when you think about how bad wow is for a game, i've hardly played a game that boring before and its a wonder why anyone plays it... its probably because people have spent like years on it and then they cant leave because it feels more like there real life than their "real" life (if they had a life) feels like. plus they probably dont have any friends beside their guild mates, its really really sad.

icewindy
icewindy

oh its sad but BioWare's vision is to deliver the best story-driven games in the world... Bioware

ratavaquera
ratavaquera

chappy_man More players = then they get more money = better/more servers = they need more money btw , Blizzard makes awesome games... thats how they use that money =D

Noctobum
Noctobum

klugenbeel you couldn't have said it better. This indeed is about money, companies that bring in the cash flow. And blizzard certainly does that with WoW. 15 million users at a monthly rate. Considering their next line up for StarCraft 2 and Diablo 3, and changing Battle.net as a monthly subscription fee, bet on Blizzard on cashing in more millions of dollars per month. I'm a little bit surprised at some of the placings, but overall its pretty accurate. Like Square-Enix for example, they've released a few games here and there that had okay sales, their flagship FFXIII has been in development for too long, hence their drop in the standings.

DarpSyX
DarpSyX

no wonder.... simple math $14.99 * 10000000 Users per month = $ 149900000 * 12 Months = LOL....... haaaaa sick

chappy_man
chappy_man

man WoW makes so much cash flow, and the real scary thing is that the price hasnt changed since its release. If they dropped the subscription fee's a bit i bet alot more people would jump the "save money in economic hard times gig" and go for a crazy value.

juanoleso
juanoleso

@ Klugenbeel Good post. Schooled me... I like seeing an American company on top. Seriously, though, they sell the video game equivalent of cocaine. Of course they're going to be rolling in dough. Robert Kotick probably swims in it like Scrooge McDuck. ^_^

playa42018
playa42018

With Starcraft 2 coming out this year and Diablo 3 probably the year after. I foresee Blizzard being on top for at least another year or two.

enix165
enix165

$100 million from their cash cow a month, lovely! Now where's Warcraft 4?!