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Top 10 Rising Studios

 

Everybody likes a feel good story.  The video game industry has always had a large amount of goodwill coursing through it, and it is genuinely nice to see a studio on the rise, be it an upstart developer or an old team looking for their masterpiece.  Here are the Top 10 studios that are on their way up.

10.  Irrational Games:  It’s hard to call Irrational Games an up-and-comer, especially with industry luminary Ken Levine manning the helm, but I feel that Irrational’s stock is really on the rise.  For awhile, they struggled with the nightmare of creating critically successful, but commercially apathetic, titles like System Shock 2 and Freedom Force, but finally knocked it out of the park with BioShock.  They have been relatively quiet since then, but show every indication of creating an elite gaming experience with BioShock: Infinite.  If this game can possibly live up to the hype, it could one of the premier games of this generation.

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9.  Visceral Games:  EA Games hasn’t always had the best track record with their internal development teams, but they must be doing something right with Visceral Games, who have created one of the best new IPs in Dead Space.  The original Dead Space mirrored a paradigm shift within EA to start creating exciting new IPs, and Visceral managed to create a new standard for the horror genre.  With the full support of their publisher and a fan base eagerly awating the next installment, Visceral could jump into the top-tier of developers if Dead Space 3 is as good as we hope it will be.

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8.  PlayDead Studios:  For an upstart European developer with literally no name recognition, PlayDead created one of the most successful puzzle-platformers ever with Limbo, a title that can stand toe-to-toe with genre kings like Braid and Fez.   As fantastic and unique as Limbo was, were hoping that PlayDead really nails it with their sophomore follow-up Project 2.  A true success story, PlayDead’s future is looking bright, and proof that you don’t need 100 artists and a million dollar budget to create art.

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7.  Crystal Dynamics: Crystal Dynamics have been around the game for awhile, but all their hard work just feels as though it is finally paying off.  Founded in 1992, they originally applied all their efforts to the ill-fated 3DO, and after swallowing the financial losses tied to that venture, they were acquired by Eidos, who has since been picked up by Square Enix.  After taking over the reins of the venerable Tomb Raider franchise, and delivering some quality titles, they have a chance for a real winner in Lara’s upcoming adventure.

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6.  Supergiant Studios:  A tiny studio creating their first game simply isn’t supposed to create a game as awesome as Bastion.  It was one of the stand-out titles of the year last year, and it’s no surprise why.  It had great controls, a strikingly beautiful art style and one of the best sound directions ever.  We don’t have any details on their plans for a follow-up, but, be it either a new IP or Bastion II, the sky is the limit for Supergiant.  Hopefully we’ll hear something soon.

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5.  5th Cell:  Developers who create graphically simplistic 2D games aren’t supposed to jump immediately to high-definition 3D blockbusters, but don’t tell 5th Cell that.  After creating the insanely fun Scribblenauts series, 5th Cell is turning its attention to their new shooter Hybrid.  A drastic departure from their previous work, Hybrid looks to prove that 5th Cell can stand head-to-head with any AAA developer out there.  I love 5thCell’s design philosophy, and I hope that Hybrid reaches a big audience.

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4.  Ubisoft:  When you are one of the top 5 video game makers on the planet it’s kind of hard to call you a rising star.  Nonetheless, I feel that Ubisoft’s best days are in front of them.  They have shown they can support their best IPs, supported now by upcoming Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell titles, as well as a philiosophy that has proven it can utilize its entire catalog.  Rayman Origins was a great illustrating point, and another upcoming entry of that, plus (hopefully) a Beyond Good & Evil sequel, Ubisoft is in a great position moving forward.

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3.  343 Studios:  Taking over any established series is a difficult situation for anybody.  Taking over for a franchise as legendary as Halo seems like an automatic losing proposal.  343 Studios seems not only ready, but confident that they can continue Bungie’s tradition of excellence.  A strong E3 showing clearly proved that Halo 4 is shaping up well, but there is simply no way to gauge what’s going to happen until we get our hands on it.  Bungie is known for creating some of the finest gunplay ever, so it will be interesting to see if 343 has what it takes.

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2.  People Can Fly:  Speaking of taking over venerable franchises, developer People Can Fly currently has their hands full with the next Gears of War title.  After their breakout new property Bulletstorm was met with great critical success, Epic Games decided to give their brand new subsidiary a chance at the big time with Gears of War: Judgement.   Gears has always had a strong identity, not to mention a huge following, so many wonder if People Can Fly have what it takes to carry the torch.  If they can pull it off though, and retain the support of Epic Games, there is no telling how far People Can Fly can go.

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1.  Rocksteady Studios:  Let’s face it:  After you create a game as excellent as Arkham City, it just isn’t fair to call you the little guy anymore.  Despite the fact that it was only their third title ever, Rocksteady created one of the best games of this millennium, and they made it look easy.  Rumors are swirling that they could be working on a Marvel game, but an original IP could also be in the works.  Regardless, Rocksteady has already entered the top of the hierarchy of game developers.  Now we just have to wait and see if they can keep it up, but no studioright now has more of an upside than Rocksteady.

(Leviathyn)

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