Top 50 Game Development Studios 2008

Game Developer Magazine pub­lished a sto­ry in the March 2008 issue rank­ing the top 50 game devel­op­ment stu­dios world­wide accord­ing to empir­i­cal data that they have gath­ered. They are using sales data as well as qual­i­ta­tive eval­u­a­tions by devel­op­ers work­ing at the stu­dios for their research. Detailed reports include releas­es per plat­form and review score aver­ages (from Metacritic) as well as mean rep­u­ta­tion scores how­ev­er, the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants in those eval­u­a­tions seems to be rather low when look­ing at free sam­ple data from big devel­op­er Ubisoft Montréal, for whom they report­ed only 30 respon­dents (just bare­ly 2% from 1600 employ­ees accord­ing to Wikipedia). What I always find a bit more trou­bling as an European seems to be the high num­ber of US American stu­dios in the top list. While Nintendo’s Kyoto, Japan, stu­dio made the top of the list, almost half of the stu­dios come from the USA.

Only two European devel­op­ers made it into the toplist: Germany’s Crytek at num­ber 22 and Sweden’s Massive at num­ber 42. While I regret this small num­ber of European game devel­op­ment stu­dios, I am very hap­py to see those two stu­dios up there, because I know employ­ees of both com­pa­nies and they seem like Europe’s top spots, when it comes to game devel­op­ment. Also, in my per­son­al opin­ion, Germany and Sweden are the most rel­e­vant coun­tries, when it comes to game devel­op­ment in Europe. But, please take a clos­er peak at the dis­tri­b­u­tion of game devel­op­ment stu­dios per Country as giv­en by the Game Developer sur­vey.

Top 50 Game Development Studios by Country 2008

Of course this data also indi­cates some­thing known to most of the peo­ple want­i­ng to go into the indus­try. Most of the best jobs are locat­ed in English speak­ing coun­tries and nations, where games are also played wide­ly and accept­ed cul­tur­al­ly. Great Britain is cer­tain­ly lead­ing the pack on my side of the Oceans with 6 stu­dios placed in the toplist. Now, of course, some­thing we should not for­get when inter­pret­ing the sur­vey data is also that for most of it, just the main offices of devel­op­ment stu­dios are named. Studios like Realtime Worlds in Scotland have accord­ing to their web­site sub­sidiary offices in Seoul, South Korea, and in Boulder Colorado, USA. So, yes, in most cas­es main offices may be in the US, because it is (besides Japan) the major dom­i­nat­ing mar­ket for dig­i­tal games, but maybe the big­ger stu­dios also have offices in Europe or Australasia. Now, let’s realign the data a bit.

Top 20 Game Development Studios by Metacritic Scores

If we are look­ing at the top 20 devel­op­ment stu­dios accord­ing to their report­ed Metacritic score, Bioshock devel­op­er Irrational Games, now named 2K Boston is lead­ing the pack. It is hard to deny the lead with this great title, which I have only enjoyed the first min­utes of, but have decid­ed to devote more future spare time to. I have not played the new Call of Duty, but my stu­dents rave about it all the time, so it can­not be bad. 🙂 Now, on sweet spot three, we find Valve, whose Source SDK I have very much grown to love over the past year. Many peo­ple where com­plain­ing about Valve only mak­ing fifth place in the over­all rank­ing. Even though I have not worked at or know any­one work­ing at Valve, I do have the impres­sion that they are a nice bunch, their com­mu­ni­ty sup­port is cer­tain­ly out­stand­ing and Portal is one of my favorite titles.

Top 20 Game Development Studios by SKUs developed

Finally, let’s resort the data again and look at SKUs (Store Keeping Units, the stuff that sits on the shelves) devel­oped by the Top 20 devel­op­ers. Nobody would have doubt­ed that a stu­dio respon­si­ble for many of EA’s major sports series (e.g. Fifa Soccer) to pro­duce most of the stuff last year. And again we can see a sports title devel­op­er Konami Japan (e.g. Pro Evolution Soccer) to line up as sec­ond with 30 devel­oped SKUs for 2008. I would real­ly like to look at all the oth­er real data from the research report, but I am a cheap stu­dent and there­fore my quick look at the top stu­dio sur­vey ends here. I thought it was inter­est­ing to see such research done. It def­i­nite­ly helps to clus­ter devel­op­ers and define qual­i­ty. However, if the return run of respon­dents is as low as that of Ubisoft Montréal, this sur­vey is far from being rep­re­sen­ta­tive. It will be inter­est­ing to see how this grows and devel­ops in the fol­low­ing years. Hope you liked my quick run­down here and hope to see you here again soon.


2 thoughts on “Top 50 Game Development Studios 2008

  1. Pingback: Game Industry Sales Data « The Acagamic

  2. Catharine Wanninger says:

    Hey Lennart

    I was read­ing your Blog and I must say it con­tained some very use­ful and inter­est­ing infor­ma­tion, I have even sub­scribed to it.

    Myself, I am in Biz dev work­ing for a Chinese game out­sourc­ing com­pa­ny so I am always need­ing as much infor­ma­tion that I can get my hands on.

    Please keep it up! and if you have any q’s about the Chinese game indus­try feel free to ask.



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