Develop 100 has released its list of the 100 most successful game studios in 2008 – with PC powerhouse Blizzard dethroning industry standard Nintendo for the #1 spot.

Develop 100 “ranks the world’s most bankable games development studios based on a variety of key criteria including sales data, critical success and industry standing,” according to the official site. So, if you were looking to bank some money on the gaming ‘biz’ in this crap-tacular economy, you could do a whole lot worse than putting your lot in with PC gaming juggernaut Blizzard Entertainment.

You see, Blizzard is sitting on a mountain made entirely of money. In 2008 alone, the company took in over a billion dollars in revenue – the bulk of which naturally came from its uberpopular MMORPG, World of Warcraft, whether in subscription fees or retail sales of its second expansion pack, Wrath of the Lich King. Plus, titles like StarCraft and Diablo II still show up on monthly bestseller lists, years after their original releases.

Last year’s champion, Nintendo, fell to #2 – but that’s hardly bad news for the Big N, considering it’s raking in a hojillion dollars every year thanks to its own money-printing machines, the Wii and DS. Rounding out the top five were Rockstar North, EA Canada – initially a strange-sounding choice until you remember that they develop the FIFA games – and Capcom.

Some of the choices are a bit odd. For example, Infinity Ward is in the top ten based solely on the longevity of the acclaimed Call of Duty 4, whereas fanboy-adored Valve doesn’t even make a showing until #21 despite last year’s Left 4 Dead. Still, it’s an interesting list, and despite a few standouts seems fairly accurate. It’s hard to argue that the top ten or top twenty aren’t some of the most successful companies in the industry, after all.


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