[For the first time ever, Gamasutra is printing Game Developer magazine's 6th annual Top 20 Publishers report in full - with stats, ratings, and analysis on the top publishers in today's game industry.]
This year's Game Developer Top 20 Publishers report sees an industry changed. Last year, Nintendo claimed its place at the top of the publishing heap, due to the overwhelming success of its DS and Wii consoles, and the progress of those two systems has in no way abated.
This year's list seems to have been influenced somewhat by which companies could adapt with the times, and capitalize on the so-called "emerging markets" of casual and online games. That said, most of the publishers in our top 20 have a decided console focus, demonstrating that the adaptation of new forms of games into the existing model will take some time.
This year, Atlus left the top ranking due to a strong showing from Codemasters, which re-entered the list for the first time since 2005. Sony made a significant jump of three places, reflecting the company's increased interest in publishing titles itself, particularly on PSN.
It's a jump similar to Konami's, but in Konami's case this had much more do to with the release of a full stop Metal Gear Solid title than any change in trajectory. The largest decline went to Eidos, which didn't have a breakaway hit in the time recorded, and saw a number of financial difficulties.
One thing to note is that this is the final year for Activision and Vivendi Games to have separate listings, as the merger happened after the discussed timeframe. This could potentially make for a very interesting ranking shakeup, depending on how the company performs in the coming year.
This year's ranking was calculated by considering number of releases, average review scores, and revenue for the period reaching from August of 2007 until July 2008. We've also factored in the results of a Gamasutra.com survey we conducted to gather opinions on 28 major publishers.
Over 300 survey respondents-industry professionals-were asked to first give their opinions on the reputations of each publisher in the survey, or any we had missed. Then the respondents were asked for any specific comments they might have on each of the publishers.
Finally, specific feedback on publishers in the form of number scores and comments was gathered from respondents who had direct experience with said publishers. Each of these factors was carefully weighted to produce the ranking you see below.
A summary of the Top 20, with links to individual profile pages, is as follows:
19. Eidos Interactive
16. Disney Interactive Studios
13. Namco Bandai Games
12. Vivendi Games
10. Square Enix
9. Microsoft Game Studios
7. Sega of America
6. Take Two
5. Sony Computer Entertainment
2. Electronic Arts
In addition, we've reprinted the matrix of Top 20 Publisher scores and rankings from the latest October 2008 issue of Game Developer magazine (click through to see it all):
[NOTE: The complete, comprehensive comparative list of statistics, ratings, and specific written user feedback is available as part of a 100-page Top 20 Publishers 2008 report from the Game Developer Research division. For more information, check www.gamedevresearch.com.]
The Game Developer Top 20 ranks publishers using a score calculated from each publisher's performance in the following five measures: annual turnover, number of releases, average review score, an anonymous reputation survey, and detailed anonymous feedback from those who had worked directly with the publisher.
Annual turnover figures come from the publishers' annual accounts or, when these are not public, from our own estimates based on the sales of games they release. The number of releases, which counts the publication of the same game on different formats as separate releases, was obtained from information on the publishers' web sites and dedicated gaming web sites.
The average review score ratings were based on information from Metacritic.com. A confidential online survey of developers provided the data for the reputational survey and the detailed comments.
The 28 larger publishers were ranked according to each of these five measures. The highest scoring publisher in a category was assigned a figure, and this figure was counted down from in regular intervals for each publisher on the list, in order. The totals were weighted and added to produce a final score, which determined the top 20.
Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained within this article. However, Game Developer does not guarantee its accuracy or completeness and does not accept liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential loss arising from its use.