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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8: Bungie (PR: 6)
Bungie slipped from the No. 6 spot after leaving Microsoft (and likely the Halo trilogy) behind to strike out on their own, and have lately run into criticism when the gaming world at large discovered Halo wasn't exactly innovative. However, getting out from under Microsoft's wing gives the developer a lot of opportunity to make cross-platform games, and even return to their - gasp - Mac roots. The company's definitely not going anywhere, and their reputation for polishing their games to a mirror shine will likely carry over to their newfound independence.

Showdown prediction: They'll likely be up against Valve in the semis. That one could go either way, and may end up a showdown between PC and console fans.

9: LucasArts (PR: 12)
Revenge of the Sith is fading more and more from my memory, and Force Unleashed looks like it may actually live up to all the hype. Wait, you mean a bad guy that can't go from point A to point Sith without getting on his knees in front of an old guy screaming at him to "submit" and cackling? Oh, and they're probably going to get cracking on another Star Wars MMOG as soon as the license expires out from under SOE's Star Wars Galaxies. Now, if only they'd make adventure games again.

Showdown prediction: They're likely up against Harmonix in the 16. I don't see them getting much further against that opposition.

10: 2K Sports (PR: Second worst, as Take Two)
When separated from Rockstar's controversy, 2K Sports emerges as EA Sports' only contender in the Western sports market. Usually matching (and occasionally outdoing) EA Sports game-for-game every year hasn't halved the sports market yet, and as long as EA Sports has the Madden franchise on their side, 2K likely won't command 50 percent of the market. However, while they lose ranking position due to market value, their games' quality gets them the No. 10 spot.

Showdown prediction: They're up against Gas Powered Games in the first heat, and stand a good chance of being upset by the Dungeon Siege developers.

11: Bethesda (PR: 4)
Bethesda drops seven not due to any shortcoming - they've just been quiet. Sure, they're quietly working on Fallout 3, but I have the attention span of a goldfish and require frequent updates. I imagine other gamers raised on Nintendo and caffeine suffer from similar problems. However, hot off the smash-hit Oblivion, the announcement of an MMOG in development by their new sister company and their ownership of two of the most-loved franchises in gaming, Bethesda's due to have a gigantic 2008 and 2009. If only they'd be less humble.

Showdown prediction: They'll likely run into Blizzard in the 8. I'd give them a 40-60 chance of getting into the semis.

12: SEGA (PR: 20)
I don't really get Mario and Sonic at the Olympics, but I'm the only one who seems to feel that way, and it's taking the Wii by storm. Tack on the upcoming Iron Man game that ties into the movie, and SEGA is set to be rolling in cash. They've also got a pretty impressive back catalog that's making its way onto Nintendo's Virtual Console. And let's not forget the nostalgia factor.

Showdown prediction: If they can get past Tim Schafer's Double Fine, they'll likely make it to the 16 when they run into Bungie.

13: Valve (PR: Unranked)
Valve could easily be a No. 1 seed if they had a bit stronger console presence, but even though they're PC-centric, they could easily be in the top 10. At this point, they can do no wrong. If it's not Portal bringing game writing to the forefront, it's Team Fortress 2 rejuvenating online FPS gameplay. And if it's none of that, it's Steam lifting PC gaming out of the depths. Steam is what Games for Windows failed to be. Gone are the days of fighting with Installshield, Starforce and hunting down shortcuts. Welcome to PC Gaming 2.0: all the good parts of owning a console (everything just works and all your friends are in one place) with all the intimacy of sitting two feet away from a 30-inch screen.

Showdown prediction: If there's a sleeper pick this year, it's Valve. They stand a good chance of meeting Nintendo in the 8, and they stand a chance at going all the way.

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