Op-Ed

Op-Ed
The Escapist's Game Industry Power Rankings: March Mayhem Edition

Joe Blancato | 20 Mar 2008 21:00
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Just in time for March Mayhem: Developer's Showdown, here's an update on The Escapist's game industry power rankings!

The format's a bit different this time. We've tried to break publishers up by their in-house development teams, and rather than a top 20 and bottom five, we're going with a straight top 25. A company's previous rank is abbreviated "PR."

Top 25

1: EA Sports (PR: 2, as EA)
One word: Madden. If that's not enough, there's EA Sports' laundry list of rainmaking games, not to mention Peter Moore, the guy who built Xbox Live, is still heading up the division. The only thing that can derail them in the Showdown is the fact everyone hates them. But when you're the 400-pound gorilla, you don't have to worry about making lots of friends. In the longer term, EA Sports remains the dominant sports game developer, and despite some inroads from 2K Sports, EA won't have to worry about being unseated for a while.

Showdown prediction: They can reach the finals, assuming people can get over their Borg-like quality.

2: Nintendo (PR: 9)
The Wii, the DS, Brawl doing the voodoo it does so well, Mario Kart in the fourth turn. If Nintendo ever was down, they're back up, and they're one of the industry's powerhouses, despite the fact they only make games "for kids." Though the Balance Board still makes no sense to me, everything else Nintendo's doing seems to resonate with the known world. Once Mario Kart makes its debut, it wouldn't be a shock to see Nintendo claim the No. 1 spot.

Showdown prediction: Definitely a contender to win the whole tournament.

3: Ubisoft (PR: Unranked)
If there were a company that looked like Cthulhu, it's Ubisoft. They've got tendrils, man, tendrils. Chances are, if you've played five games in the past year, one of them had Ubisoft's John Hancock on it somewhere. That's ubiquity, if I may be so bold. Ubisoft has quietly built a gaming empire, from the gigantic Tom Clancy franchises to Assassin's Creed. Their army drinks rivers dry. Toss in Yves Guillemot and his predilection for great sound bites, and you've got a perennial contender.

Showdown prediction: They've got a good chance to make the semi-finals, but I'm not sure they have a real knockout punch to guarantee a trip the finals.

4: Blizzard (PR: 10)
Breaking the 10-million-subscriber mark in World of Warcraft only underscores Blizzard's mojo. StarCraft 2 hasn't run into the usual Blizzard delay doldrums, and the company's settled nicely into WoW's expansion schedule. You can't discount the MMOG talk coming out of Irvine, either. And let's not forget the pending merger with Activision. These guys embody the word "class," and are deserving of a spot in the top five.

Showdown prediction: They can definitely take home top honors, but they're in tough bracket

5: Harmonix (PR: 7)
I'd put them at No. 1 if Rock Band had "Rock You Like A Hurricane" available for download, even though they'd still be No. 5 in the rankings. Rock Band is nothing short of a beast; last year, in November alone, NPD reported over 3 million copies of the game were sold. It's not rare to hear Activision and EA come up in the same sentence when it comes to financials, and Activision has Harmonix to thank for that. Nowadays, it's all about Harmonix and Rock Band. Guitar who?

Showdown prediction: They can definitely make the Great 8, but they gotta get by Nintendo to go to the semis.

6: Sony Computer Entertainment of America (PR: Cellar dweller)
No shame in being wrong. Sony and cockroaches: survivors of the apocalypse and horrendous marketing campaigns. Fresh off a Blu-ray win, Sony and SCEA have reestablished the PS3 as a cheap Blu-ray player that also happens to have some pretty great games on the way, including the new Metal Gear Solid and the follow-up to Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain. Despite the fact Home is a bad Second Life clone, SCEA's internal restructuring has focused the company in the right direction, though their position this high in the rankings isn't guaranteed next time.

Showdown prediction. Sure to make the 16 and likely the 8, but they'll have to get past Bethesda to make the semi-finals.

7: Capcom (PR: Unranked)
Similar to Ubisoft, Capcom is a gaming giant, and they're in a huge release cycle right now. Devil May Cry 4 just hit shelves, and the Resident Evil franchise has found a welcome home on the next-gen systems, including the Wii. Another addition to fighting genre staple Street Fighter is also in the chute, and the quiet developer is poised to have a very, very good Christmas season.

Showdown prediction: A surefire contender in the South, Capcom won't run into much competition until the semi-finals, when they'll likely go up against Ubisoft or BioWare.

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