50. Relic Entertainment
Founded 1997 Origin Canada Notable games Company Of Heroes, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn Of War
Ever since Homeworld revolutionised the realtime strategy genre in 1999, Relic has toiled within this doggedly unfashionable field, fine-tuning key elements and forging itself its own subgenre in the tense fights for turf that define Dawn Of War and Company Of Heroes. The latter’s eagerly anticipated sequel shows every sign that Relic’s eye for detail is as superb as ever.
49. Jagex Games Studio
It might be the years spent toiling in the crowded and confusing Java gaming space, but Jagex somehow still isn’t a megastar of the development world, despite attracting over 200 million registrations for its trusty (and slightly rusty) MMORPG, RuneScape. Perhaps the arrival of Transformers Universe will finally bludgeon greater acknowledgement out of the industry.
48. WayForward Technologies
Fiendishly combining contract work with its own beautifully made puzzle-platformers, WayForward has survived 20 years in a volatile industry by keeping its head down. But its games are far from bland. This studio has a remarkable knack for applying creativity to everything, including low-budget DSi download games and licences both beloved (A Boy And His Blob) and not so (BloodRayne).
47. Halfbrick Studios
Founded 2001 Origin Australia Notable games Fruit Ninja, Monster Dash, Jetpack Joyride
For its first eight years in business, this Queensland-based studio mostly pumped out unremarkable licensed GBA, DS and PSP titles. Then it hit pay dirt with Fruit Ninja in 2010, one of the first iPhone hits to truly understand the concept of touch gaming. It followed up with the ludicrously successful endless runner Jetpack Joyride, which cemented its mastery over the touchscreen with a blend of humour, tight arcade play and simplicity that few can resist.
46. The Creative Assembly
Founded 1987 Origin UK Notable games Rome: Total War, Total War: Shogun 2
Like Relic Entertainment, The Creative Assembly has prospered by steadily iterating on its own reading of the strategy template for over a decade. The Total War series matches a scholarly understanding of its games’ respective eras with detailed visuals and an engrossingly epic scale, growing richer with every new entry. It’s the David Lean of game development.
45. Capybara Games
Founded 2003 Origin Canada Notable games Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, Critter Crunch
Founded by a group of friends who met in a Toronto bar and created their first iPhone titles in their spare time, Capybara is the very definition of a hipster indie studio: platform agnostic, open to offbeat ideas and enthusiastic about the craft of design. And yet its colourful and distinctive games remain supremely inviting to any player.
44. SCE Santa Monica Studio
Founded 1999 Origin US Notable games God Of War, Flow
Sony’s Santa Monica Studio is a mass of contradictions. On one hand, it is responsible for God Of War, a pugilistic, technically superlative hack-and-slash blockbuster series. On the other, its external development arm has fostered and collaborated with others on a range of thoughtful experimental titles, from Journey to The Unfinished Swan. As such, it’s an example to all.
43. Harmonix Music Systems
Harmonix brought music gaming to the masses through Guitar Hero and Rock Band. When that genre became saturated, it brilliantly transferred the concept from instrumentation to movement, creating Dance Central, the series that brings out the best in Kinect. This year will see it launch a brand new series; it will be fascinating to see where Harmonix takes interactive audio next.
Founded 2009 Origin US Notable games Spelunky
Comic book artist, website editor, developer: Derek Yu, AKA Mossmouth, is the US indie scene’s Renaissance man. His games betray a deep love for classic mechanics, but he also adds his own spice, especially to Spelunky, which crosses Roguelikes with platformers to both infuriating and giddily compulsive effect.
41. Criterion Games
With Burnout, this Guildford studio took the principles of the great ’80s arcade racers, added hyper-real crash physics and changed driving games forever. Now burnishing EA’s tarnished Need For Speed series, it’s showing how its aptitude for silky control and shiny looks still reaps tremendous rewards, but we’d still love to see it apply that talent to new pastures.
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