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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14: Rockstar North (PR: Second worst, as Take Two)
GTA 4's on the way, and despite what numerous ratings boards will tell you, everyone and his uncle is planning to wrap his hands around it. And since GTA 3 is probably still moving units at the speed of commerce, it's not too surprising to see Rockstar show its head after a dreadful 2008. Manhunt 2 is in the past, and EA is currently trying to buy out Rockstar's parent company, Take Two. Provided Rockstar makes it out of the acquisition unscathed, they should be set to enjoy legal representation only billions and billions of dollars can buy.

Showdown prediction: Provided they get by Firaxis to get into the 16, they run headlong into Blizzard in the 8. Hard to imagine they'll get much further.

15: id (PR: 11)
From the previous power rankings: "Put simply, id tech 5 puts id in a position to both clean up engine-wise and develop their games on the 360, PC, Mac and PS3 simultaneously. Their Enemy Territory franchise is taking off in a big way, and even Carmack's pet project, Orcs & Elves, is picking up a lot of steam. After that weird Doom 3/Quake 4 lull, id seems back on track." I still stand by this statement; it just hasn't happened yet. And that costs them four spots.

Showdown prediction: They're in a tough bracket. I don't see them getting past Nintendo, assuming they make it to the 16.

16: Infinity Ward (PR: Unranked)
Hoo, boy, what a difference a game makes. Call of Duty 4 has more multiplayer buzz than Halo 3, and for good reason: The guys at IW created an MMOG wrapped inside a great FPS. They've also broken out of the World War II shooter genre, which gives everyone a cause to celebrate the work they're doing.

Showdown prediction: They'll likely beat GSC Gameworld, but run into BioWare at the 32. Short tourney for them, I'm afraid.

17: BioWare (PR: 13)
Mass Effect may have been Knights of the Old Republic without Jedi, but that didn't stop half the world from buying a copy. BioWare slips a bit due to the EA acquisition, mostly because you never can tell what'll happen to a studio after EA sinks in their claws. However, they're sitting on some great IP and have an MMOG headed up by industry veterans in the works. When your name becomes synonymous with "great Western RPG" (I have a very comprehensive thesaurus), life, and your position in the rankings, is good.

Showdown prediction: BioWare stands an outside chance at winning their bracket, if they can get past Ubisoft in the 16.

18: Epic (PR: Unranked)
Developers don't seem too concerned about the lawsuit over the Unreal Engine, and Epic is selling licenses as fast as they can sign the contracts. Additionally, Cliffy B is hard at work on Gears of War 2 when not doing neutral-drops down the streets of Raleigh, NC, in his Ferrari. Tack on the latest Unreal game's success and the re-release of the earlier ones on Steam, and Epic's in a good spot for the long term, even if they won't break the top 10 for a while.

Showdown prediction: Epic will likely face off against id in the 32, a favorable match-up for the venerable id.

19: Firaxis (PR: Unranked)
If you haven't played Civilization, get out. Seriously, hit up Steam and buy Civ IV. Then, after you've lost two weeks of your life, come back and finish reading. Sid Meier's team has a death grip on the turn-based strategy field, and it's hard to imagine a world in which I hadn't poured my heart and soul into 50 different version of Joetopia, ruled by Joe the Awesome I. They're more than deserving of a spot in the rankings.

Showdown prediction: Firaxis has a tough road ahead, likely playing Rockstar North in the 32. GTA 4 vs. Civ IV. Two fours enter, one four leaves.

20: Namco Bandai (PR: Unranked)
Namco Bandai works similarly to Ubisoft but in a smaller, Eastern fashion. The company's got its name on any number of games, ranging from the Yoda/Vader versions of Soul Calibur IV to Eternal Sonata. They also cover the childrens' game circuit like white on rice. They're the best developer you never think of.

Showdown prediction: Assuming they get past Quantic Dream in the first round, they land on Valve's plate in the 32. Sorry, guys.

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