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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.