For the first-ever countdown, of which the Top 20 Developers are listed and detailed in the March 2008 issue of Game Developer magazine, Nintendo’s Kyoto studio came out on top - thanks in no small part to incredible sales of a healthy lineup of DS and Wii software, notably Wii Play, Wii Sports, and two Brain Age games. These titles rarely left Japanese and Western sales charts, demonstrating Nintendo’s mastery of the casual games market. Survey comments heaped praise upon the Japanese giant for its focus on quality, and this was reflected in high review scores all around.
The second place went to Activision-owned developer Infinity Ward, thanks to both the resounding critical and commercial success of its 2007 release Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and high scores and healthy praise for the developer's working conditions, professionalism, and attention to quality. Rounding out the Top 3 was the Vivendi-owned Blizzard Entertainment, with major critical and commercial success of its World Of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade expansion, along with some notable praise in the reputation section of the report.
The top 20 ranking game development studios for the first-ever countdown, alongside some of the notable games they released in 2007, are as follows:
- Nintendo Kyoto (Brain Age, Wii Play)
- Infinity Ward (Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare)
- Blizzard Entertainment (World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade)
- Electronic Arts Canada (FIFA Soccer 08, NBA Street: Homecourt)
- Valve (Portal, Team Fortress 2)
- Konami Japan Studio (Winning Eleven: Pro Evolution Soccer, Dance Dance Revolution Universe)
- Insomniac Games (Ratchet & Clank Future)
- Capcom Osaka Studio (Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, Monster Hunter Freedom)
- Electronic Arts Tiburon (Madden NFL 08, NASCAR 08)
- BioWare Edmonton (Mass Effect, Jade Empire: Special Edition)
- Bungie Studios (Halo 3)
- Ubisoft Montreal (Assassin's Creed, Naruto: Rise Of A Ninja)
- 2K Boston [& Australia] (BioShock)
- Harmonix (Rock Band)
- Bandai Namco Tokyo (Ace Combat 6: Fires Of Liberation, Beautiful Katamari)
- Square Enix Tokyo (Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, Front Mission DS)
- Game Freak (Pokemon Diamond/Pearl)
- Epic Games (Unreal Tournament 3, Gears Of War PC)
- Hudson Soft (Mario Party 8, Mario Party DS)
- Neversoft (Guitar Hero III, Tony Hawk's Proving Ground)
The methodology for the first-ever Game Developer Top 50 Developers countdown was as follows. Each game developer was firstly assessed by combining the top ranking games using all weekly Top 10 charts of U.S., U.K., and Japanese sales in 2007, as well as number of games released and average Metacritic review scores - specifically making eligible those developers whose games were released in calendar 2007.
In terms of the reputational part of the ranking, an anonymous survey was fielded on Gamasutra.com asking community members to score game developers on overall reputation, as well as direct interaction working for or with that developer, where possible. The resulting report is the only multi-input empirical ranking available for game development studios.
“Nintendo's incredibly accessible and well-designed games continue to support its hardware success, which is why they reached the Top Developer spot in this first-ever Top 50 Developer Report,” said Simon Carless, Publisher of Game Developer Magazine and Director of Game Developer Research. “In addition, the mix of Western and Japanese developers in the Top 20 shows a flourishing world ecosystem for game development, as the medium continues to grow strongly into the 21st Century.”