Written by Rick Warren / Gfn2112
Gamers often forget where their games come from. Demands are made, complaints pile in, and games are often judged on a scale of whether they’re “worth paying $____ for”. The people who make the games, sadly, are often an afterthought. Hundreds of hours of work are put in, along with a brutal crunch time close to release. Developers sacrifice their free time to deliver something they’re passionate about, and they deserve an endless amount of credit for feeding our passion to play games. This week, I’m sharing some of my favorite developers. Give it a read, and feel free to share some of your own favorites.
5.) Media Molecule
I absolutely adore Media Molecule. Tearaway is an incredibly strong game with a vivid art style, and I had a blast earning the platinum trophy for it late last year. The LittleBigPlanet series remains one of the most unique and mesmerizing projects I’ve seen. I put a good chunk of my teenage years into the original LBP game, and I don’t regret it at all. I met plenty of great people and played plenty of great player-created levels during that time. There was so much to see outside of the strong content made by MM themselves, as the toolkit they gave the player base allowed for so many unique pieces of content. I may have been crappy with them myself, but that didn’t stop me from having fun messing with the tools of Create mode. My attachment to the series has made me extremely confident in the ambitious game that is Dreams, and when it releases later this year I feel like MM will raise the bar yet again.
Up next, the studio behind one of the most iconic video game series (and much more)...
Widely regarded as one of the best developers in the gaming industry, this studio has put out hit after hit over the years. With the wildly popular Grand Theft Auto series, they became icons. Red Dead Redemption was a masterpiece that brings brilliant storytelling and gameplay. Smaller titles like LA Noire and Bully have well-deserved cult followings, and the evolution of the Max Payne series was incredible to see. The studio has never put out a bad game, and all their work does not shy away from topics that would be considered taboo, which is something that I’ve always respected. I absolutely cannot wait to play Red Dead Redemption 2, and whatever else the studio has in the works.
In the third spot, the developer behind not one, but two iconic video game series...
3.) Square Enix
It would be impossible not to mention this publisher-developer on a list like this. I’ve enjoyed every entry I’ve played of the genre-defining series that is Final Fantasy. The fact that XV released after so much time in development hell was impressive, but what was even more shocking is how great it was. If that shows the studio’s tenacity and skill, the announcement of FF7 Remake shows that they care about their audience, something that is just as important to a developer’s success. The studio is more than just FF, though. The Kingdom Hearts games are an absolute joy, perfectly capturing what makes Disney’s content so special. With everything Square has been doing over the past few years, I’m confident that they’ll continue to impress when Kingdom Hearts 3 makes its much-awaited debut.
Next up, the studio behind the incredible adaptations of an incredible series of novels...
2.) CD Projekt Red
There are so many positive things to say about this Polish developer. They’re proud of their work and extremely talented, something that shows with every piece of content they release. A perfect example of this is The Witcher 3. My personal playtime for the launch version of the game reached 10 full days, something that is unbelievably impressive for a singleplayer-only game. Offering all that quality content was impressive on its own, but CD Projekt Red didn’t stop there. They released over a dozen pieces of free DLC, from sidequests to costumes and armor. They then went on to release two huge expansions for the game that offered a beautiful new open world and two incredibly strong storylines with original characters. This amounted to well over 50 hours of content for only $25. Then came the free-to-play Gwent game... which I’ve recently gotten hooked on. The studio’s portfolio has been incredible over the past few years, as their ability to self-publish has given them a freedom rarely given to AAA developers. I can’t wait to see what they do with Cyberpunk 2077.
1.) Naughty Dog
There’s nothing to be said about Naughty Dog that hasn’t been said already. They are, in my opinion, the best developers in the video game industry. They’ve always been a cut above the competition in every category, from writing and storytelling to graphics and voice acting. They always know who to cast as a character and how to perfectly tell that character’s story and doing so has led to iconic characters like Ellie and Nathan Drake. I’ve always joked that the only developer that can outdo Naughty Dog is Naughty Dog, but there’s quite a bit of truth to that statement. DLC like Left Behind and a spinoff like Uncharted: The Lost Legacy further prove the idea, and I’m sure The Last of Us Part 2 will do the same. Whenever I’m asked about who my favorite developer is, Naughty Dog is my answer. That will never change.
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to see 5 more of my favorite development studios!