Nintendo, Blizzard, Ubi Montreal top game devs

Japanese, Californian, and Quebecois shops ranked as most powerful studios by Game Developer magazine; Rockstar North, EA Canada, Konami, Valve, Epic, EA Tiburon, and Treyarch round out top 10.

Acclaim often comes to individual games, but the developers of those games often go unnoticed. However, a study published today might give due praise to the game industry's best developers. The industry trade periodical Game Developer released a study titled "Top 50 Developers 2009," a follow-up to its inaugural study in 2008. In the report, the magazine named Nintendo's Kyoto studio, Blizzard Entertainment, and Ubisoft Montreal as this year's best developers.

Blizzard isn't quite the king of the throne, but the regicide of Nintendo might be a possibility in the coming years.

According to Game Developer's online sibling, Gamasutra, Nintendo was named 2009's best developer due to its "incredibly strong sales and high industry reputation." The past year saw the Shigeru Miyamoto-led studio release smash hits like the workout title Wii Fit and the cartoony racer Mario Kart Wii, which have sold 18.2 million and 15.4 million units worldwide, respectively. The site also lauded the company for Wii Play and the puzzle game Brain Age.

Second place went to Blizzard, namely for the commercial and critical success of its latest massively multiplayer online role-playing game expansion, World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, which sold 2.8 million copies a day after its release. Last year, its second expansion pack to its World of Warcraft series won GameSpot's 2008 Editors' Choice award. On Game Developer's 2008 top-developer list, Blizzard was ranked third, behind Infinity Ward, the developer of the critically acclaimed shooter Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Since the developer did not release any games in 2008, it was not eligible for ranking this year.

Rounding out the top three is Ubisoft's studio in Quebec's biggest metropolis. Buoyed by critical and commercial hits such as Far Cry 2, Rainbow Six Vegas 2, and the cel-shaded Prince of Persia reboot, the company shot up nine places after finishing 12th last year.

Game Developer's rankings were based on the retail performance of games in the US, UK, and Japan and their average scores on review aggregator Metacritic. (Metacritic is owned by GameSpot parent company CBS.) Gamasutra also released an anonymous survey that asked community members to rate game developers on reputation.

DEVELOPER - TITLES
1) Nintendo Kyoto studio - Mario Kart Wii, Wii Fit
2) Blizzard Entertainment - World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
3) Ubisoft Montreal - Far Cry 2, Prince of Persia
4) Rockstar North - Grand Theft Auto IV
5) EA Canada - FIFA Soccer 09, NHL 09
6) Konami Tokyo studio - Pro Evolution Soccer 2009, Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
7) Valve - Left 4 Dead
8) Epic Games - Gears of War 2, Unreal Tournament 3 (Xbox 360)
9) Electronic Arts Tiburon - Madden NFL 09, NASCAR 09
10) Treyarch - Call of Duty: World at War
11) HAL Laboratory - Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia
12) Capcom Osaka studio - Devil May Cry 4, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite
13) Traveller's Tales - Lego Batman, Lego Indiana Jones
14) Bethesda Game Studios - Fallout 3
15) Insomniac Games - Resistance 2, Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty
16) Namco Bandai Games Tokyo studio - Soul Calibur IV, We Ski
17) EA Redwood Shores - Dead Space, MySins
18) Koei Yokohama studio - Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI, G1 Jockey 4 2008
19) Kojima Productions - Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
20) Harmonix Music Systems - Rock Band 2

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Discussion

91 comments
Sonicplys
Sonicplys

Nintendo is number 1....again. Why im I not suprised. Wii tha BEST!!!!!! listen!!!

railroberto2007
railroberto2007

probably because infinity ward didnt have a new game in 2008 lol. cod4 was 2007 lol

titanviper2000
titanviper2000

How did Treyarch make this list and Infinity Ward got nixed? That makes no sense to me.

drand24
drand24

Harmonix should be higher then that.

JrSlacker
JrSlacker

I don't know about Nintendo being the "kings" anymore. I used to smile with glee every time they came out with some new and epic, but that of course was with the Nintendo 64 and such, even the Gamecube had some games that really shined, such as Pikmen. I just find them really predictable, and the E3 some what proved that.

snokdruid
snokdruid

im not suprised to see blizzard up there

liam72
liam72

@xXFr34k_0uTXx Yes, there is certainly a link between sales, historics and game quality, but it isn't strong enough to point out one specific developper as the leader in all of those spheres. Games made in 1996 have a slight impact on today's sell and bad games can end up being "best sellers" if the marketing is good enough. What I wanted to point out is that debating over which of these companies is the all time best game developper can't end up in a rational debate. It'll inevitably fall in a battle of tastes and opinion over things that can't be objectively analysed. Unless you focus on one specific point (like sales for example)

Eazy1891
Eazy1891

wow...thats crazy i thought the list would turn out alot more different then that

ironman388
ironman388

how is EA canada above valve? seriously they make some mediocre sports games and now they they are regarded as a good company? valve has made some of the best shooters ever created, how is this possible

hatieshorrer
hatieshorrer

The Economy is designed on the basses that products that are the most liked will make the most money. If you think it wrong to bass the quality of a studio on the profits they make because your favorite studio came in too low a place it was simply that not enough people were interested in it to buy it.

jemwilli
jemwilli

The study factored in sales figures and community reputation based on "the quality of direct interaction working for or with that developer where possible." (Gamasutra) I think this ranking represents a more investor and game designer view of studios ie. "Was this a profitable studio, and does it have a good work environment?" But if you look at the titles on the list I would say it shows that good games come from good companies.

NemesisLives
NemesisLives

Umm...is it just me or I'm I the only one that thinks that rating Devs on how much money their game made is the wrong way to rate them. Shouldn't they get rated on you know...how well they develop games.

tgrah1827
tgrah1827

@ raahsnavj Activision is a publisher not a developer

raahsnavj
raahsnavj

What, no activision? Do they make any games or are they the "EA with a good reputation"? Sure you have the companies they swallowed, but yet they don't produce anything of value?

Timbydude
Timbydude

@azureblade89 Remember, only 2008-2009 games were eligible for this. Mass Effect was released in '07, so the only BioWare game eligible would be Sonic Chronicles, which definitely wasn't award-worthy.

azureblade89
azureblade89

Granted, most of the devs on the board are quite amazing, I would've slotted HMX up a bit higher and Koei in a ditch, however you can't make a list like this and seriously not add Bioware to it. Honestly that's just not right.

xXFr34k_0uTXx
xXFr34k_0uTXx

@liam72 I'm pretty sure that the amount of sales a developer has will contribute success to the company history because of the games they create. You are right, it is about what you prefer, but I don't think it boils down to an individual preference. Its more of a worldwide preference, so to speak. Blizzard and Nintendo do well in this category. =]

liam72
liam72

Debating over the best developper is stupid. It depends on what you believe is important. Is it the company history? Is it the games it develop? Is it the sales? The superiority of most of these companies could be defended, in the end it's all about who you prefer.

liam72
liam72

Yeah, good to see Ubi mtl, Valve and HMX on there, I think they deserve it.

Meluckycharms12
Meluckycharms12

"MySins" made my EA Redwood Shores.. did I miss this release? =P

nikola96
nikola96

Kojima should be at least on 10#

somomom
somomom

Nintendo is #1 because of Shigeru Miyamoto. That guy makes games out of thin air.

Sharhan96
Sharhan96

not surprised that Kojima was able to make the list with only one game(MGS4) many people liked it and it took a perfect score. GO MGS4.

Phaselinear
Phaselinear

B.S. list. Obviously quality of the "overall" gaming experience doesn't count toward the list. Many on this list are average at best. If all you have to do is pump out average games, then fine. I would rather work for a company that 2-3 times a year is offering the best quality in gaming. 3/4's of the games listed here as examples of their companies merchandise is crap!!

sashacat222
sashacat222

i really want to know about another prince of persia

taylormadederek
taylormadederek

Nintendo is Weak Blizzard doesn't even release anything New And the rest of the list seems like it is in the wrong order. I love game developer magazine and I used to get it all the time but this list is weak.

jlord149
jlord149

@marco245 'cause MGS4 was launched last year, and sells sre estimated in recent times. NINTENDO THE KING!!! F^(K ALL HATERS!!!

Rect_Pola
Rect_Pola

Not terribly suprising. EVERYONE who bought a Wii picked up the "basic kit".

sar1995
sar1995

everybody hates Nintendo because they are undeniably THE BEST no doubt about it! I need all of you Nintendo lovers here!

pilot_riaz
pilot_riaz

@BLuFAlc0n - Well said. Totally agree with you. Back in the 80s developers kept moving studios and taking their code with them. Nintendo was smart and they locked the good developers in by signaturing the code to Nintendo so they cannot take it with them when they moved. The developers stayed with Nintendo

J0nGalt
J0nGalt

Since Nintendo can't get a good virtual console game out any longer can we just take them off the list? Its the only reason I wanted a Wii! Seriously, every game i played on this system has been the suck. Don't waste your money, buy a computer or if you really really want a console then get the xbox 360.

G00DANG
G00DANG

Thats about right except that nintendo and blizzard should be alot lower. Infinity ward should be in there somewhere too.

BLuFAlc0n
BLuFAlc0n

Why are HAL and Kojima is seperated from Nintendo and Konami? Nintendo, no doubt, is the BEST GAME DEVELOPERS in the World. Why? Coz Nintendo made the best selling game of all time (Super Mario Bros.), Flawless game. The Best Game of ALL TIME (Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) Again, Absolutely Flawless The best selling franchise of gaming/ the face of gaming (Mario) Unlike Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo can make games! Kojima and Hal should be combined w/ Nintendo and Konami, Capcom should be higher as well, what's Rockstar doing @ 4th, and EA @ 5th? Capcom and Konami SHOULD be there!

Pexalottle
Pexalottle

Good seeing treyarch on that list. WAIT a second! Lol, Treyarch are better than infinity ward. They are very deserving of it anyway

azaiarnyi
azaiarnyi

Rubbish. Where's Crytek and Bungie?

gameking5000
gameking5000

Good to see Ubisoft there. Prince of Persia and Far Cry 2 are most deserving

korko3
korko3

Atleast there is one list where developers that make over hyped junk like MGS4 and Halo aren't in the front running.

X-Remnant
X-Remnant

@Ryusuke_Akihiro Since when is world of warcraft "casual"?

Ryusuke_Akihiro
Ryusuke_Akihiro

Figures all the casual gamers would run out and play Mario Kart wii and World of Warcraft like crazy... doesn't make Blizzard or Nintendo any better than the other devs.

haste2099
haste2099

seriously nintendo ??? im not a fanboy of any consoles whatsoever but geez mario is so overplayed as well as all the other 300 donkey kong , mario party , metroid , castlevania games nintendo has .. for once i want to see nintendo do something else that DOESNT revolve around their mainstream

RoyalRook09
RoyalRook09

Is there even a question about Nintendo's position in the video game world? Seriously, it's the Mario's world and we are just living in it.

Pete5506
Pete5506

I'm glad to see Unisoft on there, some how they always have good games

DivineMeliadoul
DivineMeliadoul

Well if its based on retail performance this is right on, but I think there should be more to a "top" developer than just the hard numbers. Maybe its just me...