Game Developer magazine has published its second annual “Top 50 Developers” list, with two very familiar (and unsurprising) names taking first and second: Nintendo and Blizzard, respectively.

The list, as compiled by Game Developer, was created by combining hard numbers – review scores, sales – with a survey of industry professionals. The end result, presumably, is a comprehensive list of the best developers in the business based on metrics like reputation, review scores, and cold, hard cash.

Though as I understand it, this isn’t a list of the best developers in 2008 (like that last list Blizzard and Nintendo topped), a studio was considered ineligible for the list if it had no released a new game last year. That would explain the absence of acclaimed Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward, who took home second place last year (bookended by Nintendo and Blizzard at first and third).

Nintendo powered to the top via ridiculous sales and a strong industry reputation, whereas Blizzard had high sales of Wrath of the Lich King bolstered by stellar reputation scores that “eclipsed every other developer on the list.” Ubisoft Montreal moved up to take third (up from #12 last year), thanks to the sales of titles like Prince of Persia.

The top 20 developers on the list are as follows:

1. Nintendo (Kyoto studio) (Mario Kart Wii, Wii Fit)
2. Blizzard Entertainment (World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King)
3. Ubisoft Montreal (Far Cry 2, Prince of Persia)
4. Rockstar North (Grand Theft Auto IV)
5. EA Canada (FIFA Soccer 09, NHL 09)
6. Konami (Tokyo studio) (Pro Evolution Soccer 2009, Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia)
7. Valve (Left 4 Dead)
8. Epic Games (Gears of War 2, Unreal Tournament 3 [Xbox 360])
9. Electronic Arts Tiburon (Madden NFL 09, NASCAR 09)
10. Treyarch (Call of Duty: World at War)
11. HAL Laboratory (Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia)
12. Capcom (Osaka studio) (Devil May Cry 4, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite)
13. Traveller’s Tales (LEGO Batman, LEGO Indiana Jones)
14. Bethesda Game Studios (Fallout 3)
15. Insomniac Games (Resistance 2, Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty)
16. Namco Bandai Games (Tokyo studio) (Soul Calibur IV, We Ski)
17. EA Redwood Shores (Dead Space, MySims)
18. Koei (Yokohama studio) (Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI, G1 Jockey 4 2008)
19. Kojima Productions (Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots)
20. Harmonix Music Systems (Rock Band 2)

The full, 100+ page report is available at the website … but only if you’ve got a spare grand or two lying around. For a less exhaustively detailed report (but for a sliver of a fraction of the price), the complete list will be in the June/July issue of Game Developer.


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