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Game Developer's Top Deck 2008
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Game Developer's Top Deck 2008

December 11, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 8 Next


These individuals making it into the Entrepreneurs list are businessmen, sure, but you have to be a little more than a penny-pusher to be on our listing.

To make it into this group, one must not simply make money-one must do so in a way that reinvents the company, advances the industry, or flies in the face of convention. From massive franchises through small indies, all of the below honorees have done just that.

Ace of Hearts: John Riccitiello, Electronic Arts

Riccitiello's return to EA has marked a turning point for the company. It's rare to see a CEO make such smooth, relatively contiguous, but still effective changes to a lineup. It's perhaps even rarer for a CEO that originally came from outside the industry to know so much about the games its company makes.

But the firm's maintenance of its top franchises and staff and simultaneous nurturing of well-made potential new ones, from Mirror's Edge through Dead Space, has meant that the company is becoming, surprisingly, less "The Man" and more "The Man You Want To Work For."

King of Hearts: The Housers, Rockstar

Sam and Dan Houser understand what very few others in the game business have managed to perfect -- that a combination of controversy and well-executed, stylish games add up to sales gold.

Sure, one might say that Take-Two division Rockstar Games overeggs the "rebel" card, but Grand Theft Auto IV's massive initial sales -- and a robust slate of other franchises, including Bully, Midnight Club, and Max Payne -- mean that the brothers continue to power much of their parent company's buzz and profits.

Queen of Hearts: Rod Humble, The Sims Studio/EA

Recently appointed the head of the Sims Label at EA [which EA Casual has now been folded into], Humble has notable street cred with developers, having created his own art-games such as The Marriage in his spare time in recent years.

But it's the diversification of The Sims line that he's now masterminding, and quite apart from the surprisingly sophisticated The Sims 3, extensions such as MySims (and the return of SimCity to greater console prominence) are showing why the original franchise of "play" is coming full circle in these casual times.

Jack of Hearts: Randy Pitchford, Gearbox

Make no bones about it, running a successful independent developer is tremendously difficult in today's rapidly stratifying market-and FPS veteran Gearbox, headed by Pitchford, is doing an amazing job of growing and expanding its company.

Starting with conversions or new versions of other companies' titles, Gearbox has created the developer-owned Brothers in Arms franchise, and is now diversifying further, thanks to games such as Borderlands and even a cheeky Samba de Amigo Wii version. Well-respected by peers and creating games that do well in stores, the company's entrepreneurial spirit seems to be swelling over time.

Sony/Insomniac's Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest For Booty

10 of Hearts: Ted Price, Insomniac

A key second-party Sony developer, what Price and his Southern California staff continue to do, perhaps more so than any other system-exclusive developer, is to iterate and create high-quality experiences on a yearly timeline.

The original Resistance was an impressive diversification, and with a much-awaited Resistance 2 out now, and the PSN-exclusive Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest For Booty being one of the first intentionally bite-sized AAA downloadable titles, and a North Carolina studio expansion planned for next year, the company seems in rude health.

9 of Hearts: Jonty Barnes, Bungie

Splitting from the mothership is a gutsy move, but if you have one of the biggest selling current console generation titles, as Bungie does with Halo 3, then setting up separately from Microsoft isn't such a stretch.

Helping them do so is Lionhead veteran and production head Barnes, and with the newly announced Halo 3: ODST being practically a mini-team side project for the now multi-project developer, we eagerly await the firm's continued evocation of its independent spirit.

Article Start Previous Page 5 of 8 Next

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