The feature, run for the first time in the October 2010 issue of the leading worldwide magazine for video game creators, highlights companies -- and sometimes elements within those companies -- that have demonstrated great leadership or creative potential in the industry.
Along the way, Game Developer's editors select which organizations, from massive platform companies through smaller independent game developers, will likely have a significant impact on the evolution of games as an entertainment medium.
- CCP Games: CCP has remained "uncompromisingly committed" to its unforgiving, yet successful MMO EVE Online, making the company stand out in a market that is swarming with casual, free-to-play titles.
- Nintendo for the 3DS: Nintendo's upcoming 3DS hardware could present interesting possibilities in the handheld market, and is certainly a "bold and expensive" move for the industry giant.
- Danger Close Games: The editors applaud EA's Danger Close studio for its decision to set Medal of Honor's single-player action in a real-world, ongoing conflict, a decision that "is certain to hit a raw nerve."
- Capy Games: Might & Magic: Clash Of Heroes creator Capy Games has seen rapid growth of late, and has created a model that supports "creativity and sustainability," which few other studios have emulated.
- Microsoft for Windows Phone 7: The integration of Windows Phone 7 and Xbox Live could have interesting effects on the mobile market, and Microsoft's leap into the mobile space certainly "worth keeping an eye on."
- Quantic Dream: The ambitious and mature Heavy Rain was met with surprising success, and the editors praise developer Quantic Dream for its dedication to creating games "that adults can identify with."
- The Behemoth: After the success of Castle Crashers, The Behemoth has taken its time with its next project, Battleblock Theatre, and the editors looking forward to the debut of this title, given the company's enthusiasm and its "blind dedication to the product."
- Unity Technologies: While there may not be any breakout titles developed with the Unity engine quite yet, its ability to bring "high quality tools to the grassroots level" provides interesting possibilities for hobbyists and indie developers.
- Runic Games: After the success of Torchlight, developer Runic Games is "laying the foundation for a long-term stay in game development."
- ThatGameCompany: The Los Angeles-based independent has succeeded thus far in creating distinctly emotional experiences through its games, and the editors look forward to seeing how that experience is "enforced, subverted, or altered" by Journey's online connectivity.
- Apple: The undeniable success of the iPhone and iPad has, despite its downsides and complications, has attracted developers by providing "the promise of independence and a return to the garage-coding frontier."
- Blitz Games Studios for its 1UP Program: Blitz Games has demonstrated a unique approach to supporting indie developers, and the company's a la carte approach to lending its talent to indies is "respectful to the spirit of independent games."
- Pixologic: Pixologic's ZBrush offers extremely useful tools to 3D artists, allowing them to "stay in the flow without getting bogged down" with technical issues.
- LucasArts: George Lucas' veteran San Francisco-based publisher and developer has undergone some significant internal changes, hiring key talent from throughout the industry, and this time, editors believe it is "clearly positioning itself to do something of note" in the future.
- GameStop: As the industry shifts toward digital distribution, GameStop still plays a vital role in promoting 'game culture' to the average consumer, and the firm's changes - including the purchase of Kongregate - augur for an intriguing transition period.
- Junction Point Studios: Led by beloved industry veteran Warren Spector, Junction Point hopes to "change the face of core gaming on the Wii" with the ambitious platformer Disney's Epic Mickey - and there's some reason to believe they could succeed.
- OnLive: While the game streaming service OnLive hasn't been adopted by the mainstream as of yet, changes to the nature of TV boxes or cable companies could make OnLive "tremendously disruptive" to traditional console business.
- Google: While Google's reach stretches far beyond the games industry, its Android mobile OS, Chrome browser, and evangelism of HTML5 demonstrate that games are "increasingly in the company's eyesight."
- Arkane Studios: Now a part of ZeniMax Media, Arkane Studios has additional resources and talent that are "sure to inspire the studio" to create quality titles akin to its debut project, Arx Fatalis.
- Indie Fund: The Indie Fund finances independent games on a pressure free, title-by-title basis, an attempt at "radically changing the relationship between publishing and development", and one that Game Developer's editors applaud.
The magazine also features a list of Game Developer's top video game publishing companies for 2010, continuing the 'Top 20 Publishers' feature that previous graced this issue with a editor-driven pick focus, particularly honoring those who have excelled creatively or have achieved financial success.
Some of the honored companies include Atlus, Disney Interactive Studios, and Valve -- each of which has found success though nuanced, smart, or unusual tactics that have differentiated themselves from the competition. The organizations in this feature demonstrate how taking smart risks can lead to surprising growth and success.