Commentary on the second half of the top ten

DEVELOP 100: Profiles 6-10

This month we’ve published the 2011 edition of the Develop 100.

Sponsored by Gamecity: Hamburg and based on data compiled by Metacritic, the Develop 100 ranks the world’s games developers based on their critical reception.

Below you will find profiles of some of the best studios that made the top half of the list.

For all Develop 100 coverage, and more studio profiles, go here.

6. Media Vision

Studio’s 2010 Release
Chaos Rings (iOS)

Founded: 1993
Location: Koto, Tokyo, Japan

Also famous for:
Dragon Ball: Revenge of King Piccolo (Wii)
Wild Arms 5 (PS2)

Square Enix has ironically had its flagship Final Fantasy series bested by an original RPG it published on iOS, as demon-strated by the substantial stack of rave reviews Chaos Rings has received.

Until recently, Media Vision only had Wild Arms to its name, but with a prequel released and a sequel in the works that could be about to change. Chaos Rings’ production values and intuitive controls paved the way for other core games like Infinity Blade.

The studio’s 60 employees are led by president Takashi Fukushima. It began working on Nintendo and iOS platforms relatively recently. Whatever is said about the Japanese industry, the success of Chaos Rings shows that the region’s best have not lost their flare for deeply immersive world building that offers spectacle and substance in equal measure.

7. 1337 Game Design

Studio’s 2010 Release
Dark Nebula – Episode Two (iOS)

Founded: 2009
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden

Also famous for:
Dark Nebula – Episode One (iOS)

The unstoppable rise of game apps has shaken up the studios in Develop 100 like never before. And this, a Marble Madness inspired game made by one man for the smartphone generation, is proof.

Dark Nebula – Episode Two was the second highest rated iOS game of 2010 based on its Metacritic average at the end of 2010.

1337 Game Design is run by Anders Hejdenberg, an independent game designer from Sweden and former lead multiplayer designer on Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. He began his career in the games industry 12 years ago, working as a 3D artist. It’s understood that Hejdenberg is currently working on a third Nebula game as well as an unannounced project.

8. Bungie

Studio’s 2010 Release
Halo: Reach (360)

Founded: 1991
Location: Bellevue, Washington, US
@bungietweets on Twitter

Also famous for:
Halo 3: ODST (360)
Halo 3 (360)

Having famously parted ways with former owner Microsoft after the completion of Halo 3, Bungie met with high expectation for its next project.

Although determined to carve its own future, its first two ‘independent’ games are just stepping stones in a grand plan. It has signed an unprecedented ten-year publishing deal with Activision, but in the interim produced Halo ODST and 2010’s Reach. Those games have been significant nonetheless, with their final contribution to the Halo series still drawing worldwide acclaim and record-breaking sales that few franchises can hope to match.

Bungie was founded 20 years ago by Alexander Seropian. The company, which moved offices from Kirkland to Bellevue last summer, is now led by CEO Harold Ryan, along with Jason Jones, Martin O’Donnell and Joseph Staten.

With a new multi-platform IP in the works, the next decade in the history of this world-class studio will be watched more closely than ever.

9. Rockstar Leeds

Studio’s 2010 Release
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (iOS)
GTA: Chinatown Wars HD (iOS)

Founded: 1997
In-House (owned by Rockstar Games/
Take-Two Interactive)
Location: Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK
@RockstarGames on Twitter

Also famous for:
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (PSP)
Beaterator (PSP)

Handheld games have been the bread and butter of Rockstar Leeds since it was founded by president Gordon Hall, as Mobius Entertainment, in 1997.

Acquired by Rockstar in 2004, the company switched from licensed games to porting Rockstar titles for PSP, PS2 and Wii.

Chinatown Wars has been the studio’s most successful game to date, appearing first on DS, and later PSP, in 2009. Last year’s iOS ports to iPhone and iPad were a first for the GTA franchise and, like their previous format releases, proved infectiously popular.

The mass market appeal of Rockstar’s games combined with the awesome reach of mobile app stores is a phenomenal strength, and may prompt an evolution in how the publisher does business.

10. The Coding Monkeys

Studio’s 2010 Release
Carcassonne (iOS)

Founded: 2002
Location: Munich, Germany
@codingmonkeys on Twitter

Simple ideas can often yield the most rewarding gameplay experiences. That’s certainly what reviewers saw in Carcassonne – an interactive version of a German board game. Successfully translating the depth and variety of a classic board game earned the developers props, but it was an idiot-proof multiplayer connectivity that cemented the social draw that’s at the heart of a gaming experience like Carcassonne.

This is the first title from the illusive CodingMonkeys, a duo of talented German computer science whizzes that have a soft spot for Mac. Founded by Martin Pittenauer and Dominik Wagner, the duo won several awards as students for their collaborative editing application SubEthaEdit.

The Develop 100, produced in association with Metacritic and sponsored by gamecity:Hamburg was published on June 3rd, with Develop magazine’s June edition and MCV’s June 3rd edition.

Click here for a microsite with a list of the 100 and embedded digital edition of the book

Click here for a directory of all the content is posting from the book, including analysis commentary and much more

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