The Escapist's Game Industry Power Rankings: Inaugural E3 Edition

The Escapist's Game Industry Power Rankings: Inaugural E3 Edition

I'm a big sports fan - I won't lie. I watch them, I play them and I read about them. A lot of sites run what are called "power rankings," a ranking of every team in a league, which evaluates each team's chance at winning a championship relative to everyone else. As a season goes on, the power rankings change as injuries, trades and reality enters into the mix. And I thought, "Hey, the game industry is pretty competitive. Why don't we have something like this?"

And lo, The Escapist Power Rankings were born. Below, you'll find a list of 20 of the most significant players in the industry, along with five cellar-dwellers.

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Great industry metric!

and the FPS everyone but me loves

and me.

9: Nintendo

they should be higher. After sitting on the console sidelines for too long, they come back with fangs and secure a kill with the casual gaming market. They hitched their wagon to a pretty bright star.

12: LucasArts

yay! that is all.

4: The PC

yeah thanks pc... thanks alot. thanks for relegating me to a lifetime of WoW sprinkled in with some sparse nuggets of joy. Make "My system is superior to you console" relevant again. I don't want to fade away.

I too agree that Nintendo should be slightly higher on the list due to third party support (which we haven't seen in over a decade) and its own first-party Wii/DS lineups.

Interesting list. I didn't realize LotRO had been so (relatively) successful, but I guess I should have realized -- a couple of people in my extended circle of friends have started playing it, and previously I don't think they played any MMOs. OTOH, I also know a few WoW loyalists who haven't switched/added LotRO. Me, I'm uninterested in MMOs.

Have BioWare really been flying under the radar? I mean, you listed Mass Effect as a boost for Microsoft, but after all, BioWare are the ones actually making the game.

Bootcamp on the Power Mac

As a Power Mac owner, I would love it if I could run Boot Camp. I can understand if you dislike using "Mac Pro" for the Intel towers because that sounds dumb, though.

Ajar:
I mean, you listed Mass Effect as a boost for Microsoft, but after all, BioWare are the ones actually making the game.

Mass Effect is really more of a boost for Microsoft than Bioware, but that's a testament to Bioware's reputation more than anything else. As the top 'western' RPG studio (sorry Bethesda), keeping them Xbox360-exclusive is a coup for Microsoft. Sure, they'll probably release it on the PC after a year or so, but the initial release always makes the most impact.

Of course, if Mass Effect really is as good as many are hoping, a strong self-owned franchise would be a very big deal for Bioware, since their greatest successes so far have come from licensed properties (Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic).

12: LucasArts

And you didn't even mention the cutting-edge work they're doing with physics simulations and AI, which could end up being the biggest evolution in game engines since the emergence of 3D. Assuming it all works, that is.

There's a good summary of it at games.slashdot, and an even better video demo/example on YouTube.

Seriously though, four pages? I know everyone needs hits - but to go with the sports analogy - everybody gets annoyed when SI makes you click through five pages of MMQB. The internet is supposed to make multiple page articles mostly obsolete.

Thanks for contributing to the discussion, yo. No, really.

But to address your point, most people don't like scrolling, and the pages are broken up pretty logically. We're not at Gamespot level pagination yet, tempting as that may be.

When your game out-Fallouts Fallout 3, you have what they call cache.

When someone's game out-Fallouts Fallout 3, you have to wonder just how wrong on their tracks Bethesda must be going. I'm wondering just what did the Escapist has seen of Bioshock to make such a direct jab at Bethesda's project. Any of you care to develop on that?

Gas Power Games' Space Siege

Chris Taylor. I just can't say it without laughing.

Bungie

I still think the Marathon trilogy was their crowning achievement, and Halo has yet to impress me on any level except as an excellent way of playing on console gamer's lack of knowledge of the genre.

Microsoft

Games for Windows is like the cadavre exquis of marketing and brand development, and has been ever since its 2005 inception. It's like having a good idea and generating some good buzz around it, but then let different people mess it up without a clue of what has been done by the rest of the team.

Only about a handful of the titles in the catalogue are real gems, and several others are actually multiplatform releases - pretty much rendering useless the brand name itself. And there's no better way of positioning Windows as a modern and reliable gaming platform than forcing its users to pay for that Vista bloatware in order to run "exclusives", like Halo 2 and Shadowrun.

Automatic Meat:

Bungie

I still think the Marathon trilogy was their crowning achievement, and Halo has yet to impress me on any level except as an excellent way of playing on console gamer's lack of knowledge of the genre.

I'm with you here. Halo doesn't/never has impressed me.

Virgil:

Ajar:
I mean, you listed Mass Effect as a boost for Microsoft, but after all, BioWare are the ones actually making the game.

Mass Effect is really more of a boost for Microsoft than Bioware, but that's a testament to Bioware's reputation more than anything else. As the top 'western' RPG studio (sorry Bethesda), keeping them Xbox360-exclusive is a coup for Microsoft. Sure, they'll probably release it on the PC after a year or so, but the initial release always makes the most impact.

Of course, if Mass Effect really is as good as many are hoping, a strong self-owned franchise would be a very big deal for Bioware, since their greatest successes so far have come from licensed properties (Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic).

That's fair. I definitely count myself among the hopers, I perfer Western RPGs to their Japanese counterparts and have thoroughly enjoyed the BioWare games I've played. There's nothing wrong with some good, fun space opera.

Automatic Meat:

When your game out-Fallouts Fallout 3, you have what they call cache.

When someone's game out-Fallouts Fallout 3, you have to wonder just how wrong on their tracks Bethesda must be going. I'm wondering just what did the Escapist has seen of Bioshock to make such a direct jab at Bethesda's project. Any of you care to develop on that?

From what I've read on various sites, BioShock was playable at E3. I think Russ wrote a blurb about his experience with it... yup (hooray for the new and improved search feature!).

Automatic Meat:

Bungie

I still think the Marathon trilogy was their crowning achievement...

Marathon's great, but if I could only have one Bungie game to play on a deserted island (that, like Lost, somehow had power and computers), it would be Myth II. I still play that game sometimes. Playing the campaign co-op with voice chat is a blast, especially when you divide up the dwarves. :D

Marathon was awesome. Halo/2, I find, is one of the most engaging "party games" out there (right up with Smash Bros. Melee)... my circle of friends games, yes, but primarily on consoles; LAN parties were never quite viable. However, we did have Xboxes, and there's something incredibly satisfying about putting four people in one room on one big-screen TV, and four people in the next room on another big-screen TV, and having a 4v4 match of Halo 2.

Of course, simple 4v4 has been doable on PC shooters for YEARS, and with Xbox Live, Halo 2 itself could do more than that.

But there's just something fun about, y'know, being in the same physical space as three good friends (and just a room over from four good friends-turned-mortal enemies), having a beer or two, eating some pizza, going to the doorway and loudly telling your opponents to "Suck it DOWN" upon capturing that precious flag.

Interestingly enough, though, my primary circle of friends at college never really picked up Halo 2 as much as my friends and I back home played Halo: our party game of choice was the oft-overlooked 2D fighter, "Guilty Gear X2 #Reload."

Still, I get WHY it's so popular, and I certainly enjoy it myself.

Automatic Meat:

When someone's game out-Fallouts Fallout 3, you have to wonder just how wrong on their tracks Bethesda must be going. I'm wondering just what did the Escapist has seen of Bioshock to make such a direct jab at Bethesda's project. Any of you care to develop on that?

Well, I went to both presentations. BioShock just felt like it captured a lot of Fallout's intangibles better. The humor is a lot more acerbic and darker than what I saw in Fallout 3. They have a PIPBoy-ish little guy to explain the different powers, and since Rapture is another 1950s gone wrong, that too feels very early Fallout. Tack onto that the combat has multiple avenues of attack (draw enemies into the water, then shock the water, and what's normally a stun attack becomes fatal) and it just feels like Fallout. Of course, there's a lot of System Shock in there, too, which certainly didn't dampen my impression of it.

Bear in mind, though, I actually played BioShock and just watched Fallout 3 being played. And since BioShock is at least a year ahead of Fallout 3 in terms of development, Bethesda's got a lot of time to refine Fallout 3 to make it even more, uhh, Fallout-ish. But at this point, if an old Fallout fan asked me where to go to play a new game with Fallout overtones, I'm pointing them toward BioShock. But even at this stage, Fallout 3 still looks great. It's why they're so closely packed at the top of the rankings.

Thanks for the reply, Joe.

My hands on experience with either is zero but if I'd have to compare and contrast between Bethesda and Irrational's track records, Bioshock would be my game of choice as well if I were to choose which is shaping up to be more Falloutish.

I really want to play BioShock, but I'm afraid. I played System Shock 2 alone in the dark with headphones for an hour or so, and was scared enough that I never played it again.

That was years ago, and I've tried to play more games with horror elements since then (Eternal Darkness, Resident Evil 4, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth), so I'm steeling myself and am going to pick up BioShock when it comes out... but I may have to play it in tiny, tiny increments. In the daytime. With the lights on. And I'll still have nightmares -- I did with CoC.

I chalk it up to being afraid of the dark, monster-filled basement as a child.

Ajar, prepare for hell.

Remember the monkeys? Yeah, they're kids this time. And they fucking giggle.

Crap.

The monkeys were what made me stop playing SS2. "Your song is not ours" was just icing on the cake. But, the little girls in BioShock don't attack you, do they? ...or are you not talking about the little girls...?

In what I saw, no, they didn't attack. However, that's not saying they can't or won't.

If you need me, I'll be looking for my flashlight.

They're still very much unkillable through regular means, correct? Players have to "harvest" them or some other adult rating-evading game mechanism.

CantFaketheFunk:

But there's just something fun about, y'know, being in the same physical space as three good friends (and just a room over from four good friends-turned-mortal enemies), having a beer or two, eating some pizza, going to the doorway and loudly telling your opponents to "Suck it DOWN" upon capturing that precious flag.

...

Still, I get WHY it's so popular, and I certainly enjoy it myself.

I didn't think anyone besides myself still yelled "SUCK IT DOWN" since DOOM II/Quake/John Romero died down. It's good to know others are keeping gaming's best insult alive.

Wow, nice stuff overall. I just have one issue.

How can you list Sony as a bottom five, when most of the rest of the publicized world listed them as having the best E3 of the bunch? And Microsoft #1? After the RRoD issue that is costing them over a billion dollars?

I feel a little fanboy even posting, but I was curious if you could clarify your position. More than what you wrote already.

Joe:
When your game out-Fallouts Fallout 3, you have what they call cache.

Come on, if you're going to boldface a word in an article for extra emphasis, make sure you either spell it correctly or actually know what it means.

The word is CACHET.

Look it up!

KingTut:
Come on, if you're going to boldface a word in an article for extra emphasis, make sure you either spell it correctly or actually know what it means.

The word is CACHET.

Look it up!

This is what I get for writing on Friday. Ah well, 1999 for 2000 ain't bad.

cesp00l:
Wow, nice stuff overall. I just have one issue.

How can you list Sony as a bottom five, when most of the rest of the publicized world listed them as having the best E3 of the bunch? And Microsoft #1? After the RRoD issue that is costing them over a billion dollars?

I feel a little fanboy even posting, but I was curious if you could clarify your position. More than what you wrote already.

Well, it's the Inaugural E3 edition, but it's not entirely E3-specific. However, I gotta give Microsoft #1, despite the warranty loss. They've got better games heading their way, owning up to the hardware problems makes them look honest in that weird corporate way (compared to Sony refusing to admit the Christmas season is a big deal), and they've already got a ton of momentum from the past two years. And if there's one company that can eat a billion-dollar loss, it's Microsoft. But mostly, it's the BioShock/Fallout 3/Mass Effect/Halo 3 deluge.

But hey, this list is gonna evolve as time goes on. They may not be as mighty next time.

How often can we expect and update to the list? After the holidays?

Logan Frederick:
How often can we expect and update to the list? After the holidays?

personally, i'd like to see a (bi?)monthly power ratings listing. I know the news cycle of game development may make it a little redundant, but perhaps with a little research and user input, it could be updated on a semi-regular basis. I think its a strong little news nugget (in that it would easily be a good vehicle to distribute to gaming news sites to hopefully grab a few new readers). Maybe a rotating group of news junkies can can vote it out on a "x"-ly basis and make this a permanent fixture of The Escapist.

It's nice to see a poster of the thread respond to comments. Thanks Joe!

thefreemarket:

Logan Frederick:
How often can we expect and update to the list? After the holidays?

personally, i'd like to see a (bi?)monthly power ratings listing. I know the news cycle of game development may make it a little redundant, but perhaps with a little research and user input, it could be updated on a semi-regular basis. I think its a strong little news nugget (in that it would easily be a good vehicle to distribute to gaming news sites to hopefully grab a few new readers). Maybe a rotating group of news junkies can can vote it out on a "x"-ly basis and make this a permanent fixture of The Escapist.

1. I agree that this could be a nice addition to the Escapist editorial arsenal. Along with the magazine and Tom Chick's Shoot Club, it'd be another staple article that people could look forward to reading on the site.

2. And getting visitor/editorial say into the list could increase interactivity between the users and the site.

At this point, I'm gonna wait to see how fast the news decides to move. I gotta talk to the rest of the posse on this one, but as far as gaging the time between updates, my ballpark range is less than quarterly, more than bi-weekly.

cesp00l:
How can you list Sony as a bottom five, when most of the rest of the publicized world listed them as having the best E3 of the bunch? And Microsoft #1? After the RRoD issue that is costing them over a billion dollars?

Despite the good showing, right now their console is a dud. It's too expensive for most users, and there aren't enough good games (current or near-future) to really make it appealing. The best thing about the PS3 at the moment is the fact that it's the cheapest, easiest way to get a Blu-ray player. Sony's not in the best of positions, especially if their price cut really does turn out to only be a clearance sale. The fact that they're selling as well as they are is really a testament to the power of the Sony and Playstation brands.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has a cheaper console, an amazing game lineup (current and near-future), and a lower price. They have reliability problems to be sure, but the three-year warranty certainly goes a long way to help with that, and could be taken as indirect proof that the issues are 'fixed'. In the end, all that billion dollar loss did was put their game division financials a little more in the red than they were last year, leaving this year on track to be profitable.

That's not to say that the situation won't be the exact opposite next year, but Microsoft is clearly cruising well ahead of Sony in the race at the moment.

Joe:
Thanks for contributing to the discussion, yo. No, really.

But to address your point, most people don't like scrolling, and the pages are broken up pretty logically. We're not at Gamespot level pagination yet, tempting as that may be.

Hey, I understand we all need click-throughs but the content is less than the sidebar. That's why it popped out at me. There's a reason I don't visit SI despite liking Dr. Z.

Virgil:
Microsoft, on the other hand, has a cheaper console, an amazing game lineup (current and near-future), and a lower price.

I'm curious about the the great lineup they have right now. What games are you talking about generally or specifically? I got a 360 to take advantage of an HDTV and play some XBOX games but I've really only been impressed by Dead Rising. Gears of War is visually nice and a decent game. Overlord has a good style and nice gameplay. It might be my game preferences but right now I haven't found any other game that's really all that good, although I am looking forward to fall and some good games.

mactbone:
I'm curious about the the great lineup they have right now. What games are you talking about generally or specifically?

I'd suggest Oblivion, Crackdown, Viva Pinata, and possibly one of Project Gotham Racing/Forza Motorsport/Test Drive if you like racing in addition to the games you already mentioned. Chromehounds is also a good game, if you can get into it and like playing online. Those are all Xbox 360 only as far as consoles go - any multi-platform game on both the 360 and the PS3 are equally good on either, which covers plenty of other good games.

Depending on the other consoles you own, Guitar Hero II, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, and Lego Star Wars are also excellent in their 360 incarnations, though they're also available on the PS2.

There are also a bunch of XBLA titles worth playing - Geometry Wars, Worms, Marble Blast Ultra, Assault Heroes, and Outpost Kaloki X are all excellent (and dozens of arcade classics). Set your console to snag all the demos and give them a try.

 

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