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Game Developer Reveals Top 20 Publishers, Debuts 2009 Research
Game Developer Reveals Top 20 Publishers, Debuts 2009 Research Exclusive
October 6, 2009 | By Staff

October 6, 2009 | By Staff
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    7 comments
More: Console/PC, Exclusive



Game Developer Magazine and Game Developer Research's highly-anticipated annual Top 20 Publishers report has debuted for 2009, revealing that publisher Nintendo has maintained its top position on the chart for the third year running.

The countdown, which builds on six years of ongoing research, includes a wide-ranging reputation survey distributed to industry professionals, alongside revenue data, release counts, average review scores, and anonymous feedback from development partners.

It saw the Kyoto-headquartered publisher hold chart-topping scores in revenue and partner feedback, as well as strong reputation scores, allowing the company to once again stand at the top of the heap.

Electronic Arts was again the runner-up, a position the former list-topper has held since Nintendo dethroned it, followed by Activision Blizzard, which held its #3 spot for the fourth year running; Ubisoft, which maintained its #4 slot; and Take-Two, which jumped up a place from #6 to #5, displacing Sony Computer Entertainment.

Brand new to the list was Bethesda Softworks, whose parent company ZeniMax has been busy -- in addition to its sterling performance with internally-developed Fallout 3, it has been expanding publishing operations and recently acquired noted developer id Software. Fallout 3 allowed the company to take the top rating for review scores, and combined with strong reputation performance, Bethesda entered the Top 20 at an impressive #7.

Viacom's MTV Games also made its debut appearance at #14, thanks to the success of subsidiary developer Harmonix's numerous Rock Band releases, with fellow first-timer Warner Bros. Interactive appearing at #16.

Sega was also a big mover, but in the other direction -- a declining financial situation and less-than-sterling reviews contributed to the Tokyo-based publisher dropping five places to #12.

The 2009 rankings were calculated by considering number of releases by SKU, average review scores, and estimated publisher revenue from August 2008 to July 2009. It included the results of a survey conducted to gather opinions on the major video game software publishers.

Nearly 900 industry professionals from all parts of the game production process were asked to give their opinions -– including comments -– on the reputations of each publisher in the survey, a dramatic increase in sample size over the previous year.

In addition, scores and commentary were gathered from respondents who had direct experience with the publishers in the recent past, either as workers or partners, including milestone, marketing and pay feedback.

The ranking of the top 20 publishers is as follows:
1. Nintendo
2. Electronic Arts
3. Activision Blizzard
4. Ubisoft
5. Take-Two
6. Sony Computer Entertainment
7. Bethesda Softworks
8. THQ
9. Square Enix
10. Microsoft
11. Konami
12. Sega
13. Capcom
14. MTV Games
15. Namco Bandai Games
16. Warner Bros. Interactive
17. Disney Interactive
18. Atari
19. Atlus
20. LucasArts

A rundown of the Game Developer Research Top 20 Publishers is available to subscribers of Game Developer magazine in the October 2009 issue, including overviews of each publisher along with select data.

In addition, a much more comprehensive, canonical Top 20 Publishers 2009 report featuring all statistics, ratings and complete survey feedback -– including numerous specific comments for each publisher -- is available at the Game Developer Research website.


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Comments


Matt Marquez
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Hmm... a bit surprising to say the least.

Tyler Peters
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@ Matt

Really? The only thing a bit surprising to me was how high THQ was considering how much market share they have lost and that their financials have not been too great.

Sad to see how far the Japanese have fallen.

Roberto Alfonso
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Really nice to see Atlus there again. I really support that little niche company!

Jorge Garcia Celorio
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Lucasarts in the 20th place??? Quite a surprise considering The Force Unleashed and.. and... Galaxies?? wait a second!!! WHat happened to LucasArts!!!!! T

j kelly
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I'm not too sorry to see the Japanese fall, for the longest time Western developers had to dance to their tune. It was a very closed market. Innovation was at the PC level, and that's it. Unless you were a huge name, all you had was this little area to get your game seen. Don't get me wrong, I love Nintendo, Sega, and Sony. I just happen to love innovative gameplay more.

Chris Chiu
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@j kelly: plenty of innovative games still come out of Japan. But due to their sheer size, there's also a lot of "samey" titles too, and as always, those are the "mainstream" games that enjoy more popularity than more obscure, but innovative titles. It's the same in the west, really. It still seems to me that the west is way more closed-minded in the definition of what constitutes a game compared to Japan, where all sorts of mixtures of media types occur, blurring the distinction between media forms such as films, games, literature, music. In the West, there's still this invisible "pigeonholing", where a game must be a game, a film must be a film, a book must be a book instead of exploring the space in between these forms of media - and possibly creating an entirely new form of media in the process (besides, isn't that how videogames were invented in the first place? As an exploration of the space between games and technology?). We need to stop the pigeonholing.





Also, most of the comments here fail to realize that the ranking in the game developer magazine is not purely based on profit, company size, or game quality, but also based on the experiences of partners (i.e. studios being contracted by those publishers). I think this is a very important factor, especially for game developers looking for publisher deals. Every developer in a third party studio can probably tell tales on why that one publisher was really annoying to work with, or how great that other publisher was. I think this is important information that helps every developer in such a third party studio.

Yannick Boucher
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I'm not sorry to see the Japanese developers who have deserved it (looking at Bandai Namco, and Konami, in particular; sorry guys, but as much as i used to love you, you're the only ones responsible for your respective downfalls), but Capcom deserves to be MUCH higher than this. And EA at #2 doesn't reflect the year's reality at all, neither does THQ at 8.


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