Slideshow

The 8 most powerful video game studios

In terms of multiple hits, present impact, and cash money, these are the most influential video game developers in the world. Know your maker.

  • Sony Computer Entertainment


    Founded: 1993
    Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan
    Had it not been for a dissolved partnership between Nintendo and Sony in 1991, there probably wouldn't be a PlayStation, nor the numerous and impressive games that come with it by way of Sony's internal development studios. Roll credits, please: God of War, Gran Turismo, Hot Shots Golf, ICO/Shadow of the Colossus, Killzone, the first-party MLB and NBA franchises, Ratchet & Clank, SingStar, SOCOM, Twisted Metal, and many more — all PlayStation exclusives. Thanks, Nintendo.
  • Blizzard Entertainment


    Founded: 1991 (as Silicon & Synapse)
    Headquarters: Irvine, California
    There must be something in the water in Irvine. Either that or some hidden crack-cocaine between lines of Blizzard game code, because the hard-to-put-down studio is notorious for making some of the most addicting games of all time, namely Diablo, Starcraft, and the grandaddy of them all, World of Warcraft. How else would you convince 10 million subscribing fiends to shell out a monthly fee? This is one developer everyone wants to be.
  • Rockstar North


    Founded: 1988 (as DMA Design)
    Headquarters: Edinburgh, Scotland
    It's funny to think that the creator of the adorable Lemmings would go on to develop one of the most controversial and politically-fueled franchises of the last decade, Grand Theft Auto. But Rockstar North did more than bank on shock-value to rise to the top. As gamers know, the GTA series has become synonymous with sophisticated presentation, deft parody, "open-world" gameplay, and addicting loiterer. Plus, it lets you mow down innocent bystanders, which is always fun.
  • EA Tiburon


    Founded: 1994
    Headquarters: Orlando, Florida
    World, I'd like you to meet the king of sports video games, the sultan of simulation, the Madden-maker... EA Tiburon. It's a funny-sounding name, but the studio's yearly success and industry clout is no laughing matter, as Madden NFL Football is the highest grossing property in video game history. And to think the studio was started by just three Southern programmers — humble beginnings, indeed.
  • Most gamers are familiar with big name publishers like Electronic Arts, Activision, and Sega. But what about the development studios themselves? You know, the ones that actually make the games, not just distribute them. Behold! Here are eight of the most important ones.

    Epic Games


    Founded: 1991
    Headquarters: Cary, North Carolina
    With the release of its first breakout game (Unreal Tournament), Epic Games has been hawking hard-edged, sci-fi shooters to significant fanfare for nearly a decade. The debut of Gears of War in 2006 on Xbox 360 solidified the studio as a current-gen powerhouse, not to mention their lucrative middleware engine which has been licensed by hundreds of other games. Beefy characters are here to stay, it seems.
  • Maxis Software


    Founded: 1987
    Headquarters: Emeryville, California
    You might not know it, but Maxis Software is the studio behind the best-selling computer game of all time, The Sims. The Sims has sold more than 100 million games worldwide (!) — the third best-selling franchise of all time. It's no wonder then that company's next (not to mention prolonged) god game, Spore, is one of the most anticipated games of 2008.
  • Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development


    Founded: 1984 (as Nintendo Research and Development 1)
    Headquarters: Kyoto, Japan
    Three years ago, Nintendo EAD might not have made this list, given their waning influence. Today, the prolific studio might be as powerful as half of the others on our list, thanks to the phenomenal success of both the Wii and DS. Largely under the direction of Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo EAD and its various sub groups have created the following household names in gaming: Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, and Mario Kart, including several new ones like Nintendogs, Wii Sports, and Wii Fit. And they still have everyone guessing.
  • Bungie


    Founded: 1991
    Headquarters: Kirkland, Washington
    As the video game industry intensified in the 90s, it became increasingly difficult for developers to enjoy Super Mario 3-like sales of 18 million units sold. But if there's one developer still capable of killer-app type launch hysteria, it's Bungie, makers of Halo. And not only does Bungie design marketable blockbusters, it's credited for popularising the most dominant console genre today, first-person shooters.
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