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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 6 of 8 Next

8 of Hearts: Makoto Iwai, Namco Bandai Games America

The Japanese-headquartered Namco Bandai is reinventing itself in the U.S., with internal studios, externally developed Western-produced titles, and the whole nine yards.

Issues with the crumbling Hellgate: London notwithstanding, the company has been making some interesting moves recently, and much of it has to do with EVP and COO Makoto Iwai (previously development director), and his so-called "samurai mentality." Iwai has been shaking up development teams, and reforming the company from the inside-an impressive thing to see.

7 of Hearts: Brad Wardell, Stardock

Is the hardcore PC game scene the new face of independent games? Some would say so, and Stardock's Wardell is one of the up-and-comers, thanks to a rich history with the Galactic Civilizations series, and the Stardock-backed Sins of A Solar Empire reaching a super-impressive 500,000 units.

Add to that the Gamer's Bill of Rights and his firm's Impulse digital distribution system, and the rise of the independents continues, even beyond the obvious.

6 of Hearts: Satoshi Tajiri, Game Freak

Pokémon is a financial powerhouse. A new proper title in the series is guaranteed to sell at least a million within a few weeks, and the game has essentially refined, if not started, a complete game genre -- one that has brought success to even its imitators, in lesser degrees.

Game Freak's Satoshi Tajiri makes the list because his company has managed to deliver time and time again what the customers are looking for, expanding the dynasty to astronomical heights -- this year is no exception, with Pokémon Platinum a Japanese smash, and Pokémon Diamond/Pearl having sold around 15 million units. Pokémon is the giant hit that no one ever thinks about -- and that makes it all the more powerful.

5 of Hearts: John Baez, The Behemoth

John Baez has guided tiny San Diego-based indie and Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers creator The Behemoth as a company through thick and thin, using distinctly unconventional business tactics. How so? By making original action figures, selling T-shirts, going to expos, and basically hustling all day long to promote the company.

It is through strength of will that the company battled to release Castle Crashers to huge success -- over 350,000 units on Xbox Live Arcade in a tremendously short period of time -- and deliver a massive lesson on what it takes for independent developers to be heard in today's market.

4 of Hearts: Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America

While Satoru Iwata appears elsewhere in the Top Deck, Nintendo of America head Fils-Aime appears in the Entrepreneur section for one simple reason -- he's helped make the very Japanese company successful in the West through smart marketing and intelligent use of the amazing concepts created out of Nintendo HQ.

Using Nicole Kidman to advertise the Nintendo DS in gossip magazines is hardly a conventional tactic for your average game hardware firm, but it's been all-encompassing moves like this that have helped Reggie convert the masses to Nintendo.

3 of Hearts: Shinichi Suzuki, Atlus

As the game market expands, we're seeing increasing amounts of smart entrepreneurship within those niches -- and import gaming is one of the more beloved of those. Atlus, a relatively small Japanese firm, has been rapidly expanding its Western translation of Eastern titles, with some significant success.

Quite apart from its own Persona series, which is increasingly critically acclaimed in the West, Suzuki and the Atlus U.S. team are licensing from small Japanese developers, bringing valid forms such as the strategy RPG and the surgery simulator to wider audiences, and uniting the world along the way.

2 of Hearts: Chris Satchell, Microsoft XNA

One of the signs of entrepreneurship is opening up new avenues of creativity and revenue creation, and Satchell's endgame -- using the Microsoft XNA Studio tools to have "bedroom programmers" create XNA Community Games across Xbox 360, PC, and even Zune -- is a massive step forward for user-created content on consoles.

The fact you can make money off your Community Games releases, too, makes it even closer to some of the more dynamic game ecosystems out there right now -- such as Apple's App Store. Also, with XNA's professional development on the Xbox incredibly robustly supported -- that's down to Satchell and team, too.

Article Start Previous Page 6 of 8 Next

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