Think Servicesí Game Developer magazine and Game Developer Research division -- sister divisions to Gamasutra -- have announced a major study ranking the top 50 game development studios worldwide.
Following up on last year's inaugural study, Game Developer's Top 50 Developers 2009 combines empirical market data with a detailed survey taken by game development professionals via industry-leading website Gamasutra to create a holistic view of the top game developers using sales and reputation data.
In the countdown, also listed and detailed in the June/July 2009 issue of Game Developer magazine, Nintendo's internal Kyoto studio came out on top -- thanks in no small part to incredible sales of a healthy lineup of DS and Wii software like Wii Fit and Mario Kart Wii as well as ongoing catalogue titles like Wii Play and Brain Age.
Nintendo's incredibly strong sales and high industry reputation kept the studio on top for the second year, even as its total volume of software output shrank.
The second place went to Activision-owned developer Blizzard, based on the incredible sales success of its World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. It was also aided by its sterling reputation scores, which eclipsed every other developer on the list.
Blizzard moved up one slot from last year in the absence of Infinity Ward, which released no games in 2008, and therefore was not eligible for this year's Top Developers list.
Rounding out the top 3 was Ubisoft's Montreal studio, which saw strong sales, increased game output, and rising review scores bring the developer up considerably from last year's #12 showing. Games like Far Cry 2, Prince of Persia, and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2 drove the studio's placing.
The top 20 rankings of game development studios for the 2009 countdown, alongside some of the notable games released in 2008, are as follows:
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, MySims)
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)
Each game developer was first assessed by combining the top ranking games using all weekly Top 10 charts of U.S., U.K., and Japanese sales in 2008, with their number of games released and average Metacritic review scores. Only those developers with games released in calendar 2008 were eligible for inclusion.
An anonymous survey was fielded on Gamasutra asking community members to score game developers on overall reputation, as well as on the quality of direct interaction working for or with that developer where possible. The resulting report is the first and pre-eminent multi-input empirical ranking available for game development studios.
A more detailed analysis of the top 50 developers, including brief analysis and reputation responses, is available in the June/July 2009 issue of Game Developer magazine, out now and available at the magazine's website.