If you were to list down the top game devs of the last 5 years, how would you judge them? Do you take into account the number of games they have put out, do you consider their contributions to video game folk-lore, or do you simply count all of their hits. But what defines a hit? Is it a hit if it sells a million copies, is it a hit which get rave reviews, or is it a hit for introducing that new game mechanic that all games after it will follow?
We decided to base our list on meta-critic scores. Why? For one they are one of the few tangible metrics, to judge a game. Secondly their score is crowd-sourced (scores are an average of reviews gathered from its trusted publishers) which does help in removing bias. Thirdly, this information is publicly available, so anyone can do what we did, and maybe reach the same conclusions.
So to short-list our contenders, we scoured all the games that scored over 89 on Metacritic in the past 5 years. You can check the detailed list using the links given in the reference section or you can take a look at the condensed document which removes duplication (like same game release on another platform) below.
There are some surprising observations here (for eg. Ubisoft has 1, EA and Activision have not produced a 90 game in the past 5 years) and some trends we were always aware of (indie studios churning out great new concepts and games). But for the intent and purposes of this article, here are what we think are the top 5 game developers in the last 5 years.
TOP 5 GAME DEVS
IN THE PAST 5 YEARS
5. Naughty Dog
Uncharted Series says it all, no other reason to mention. Naughty Dog, is an American first-party video game developer which has its expertise in Action-Adventure and Platform games. But if there is one word that could define Naughty Dog, it’s QUALITY. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, The Last of Us, Uncharted Series, this organization constantly upgrades itself and the gaming experience for the players every time.
Its games are mainly based on story rather than easy hands on game play. The Last of Us and Uncharted 4 are some of the best-selling games having the Metacritic scores of 95 and 93 for the year 2014 and 2016 respectively. More recently Uncharted: The lost legacy has received a lot of appreciation and became popular in a short span. Its genre of Action-Adventure games has helped it to develop its own name in the gaming world.
4. CD PROJEKT RED
Here is a gaming studio who have redefined Role playing games. What makes it different from the other developers of same genre? Well its simple, the quality of gaming experience. The Witcher series is one of the best examples to prove that point. Which other RPG game gave you such a huge environment to play, side quests to complete and mind blowing story-line. They are also famous for their digital-distribution service GOG.com, but that’s a topic for another day.
While technically, the studio just released a single game in the past 5 years (Witcher 3), it also released 2 DLC (more like expansion packs) which would put most AAA games to shame, with each of their DLC also scoring in the 90s. And then they released Gwent, a game based on one of the mini-games in the Witcher 3. Not because they wanted to, but because of public demand. Let that sink in for a moment.
After the release of The Witcher CD Projekt worked on a console port called The Witcher: White Wolf; but due to many developmental issues and increasing costs the company was nearly at the brink of bankruptcy. But it never lost hope and with the release of The Witcher 2 and The Witcher 3 it came back on track and won many Games of the Year Awards.
There are a lot of expectations from its upcoming Open World RPG project called Cyberpunk 2077. It is described by CD Projekt as “far bigger” than The Witcher 3, which is quite interesting. For now all we can do is wait.
3. Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
Are you familiar with Overwatch? Then it is quite easy to explain about Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. is an American video game developer and publisher and is a subsidiary of the American company Activision Blizzard. Blizzard truly deserves to be in this spot because it not only developed quality games but also brought all the gamers comparatively closer with its multiplayer gaming feature.
Overwatch and Diablo III are such success stories of Blizzard which not only helped in the elevation of the company but also garnered critical response from its fans all over the world. It has a metacritic score of 91 and 90 out of 100 respectively, which is pretty huge. Blizzard hit a home-run thanks to the radiating positivity and a world filled with lively color and energetic, playful competition of Overwatch as exceeding those of the game’s competitors. Many companies may rise and fall but Blizzard has its own respect in the market.
2. From Software
Just like the Horror genre in the movies, From Software specializes in scaring and torturing people, and yet they keep coming back for more. But on a more serious note, if anything the Souls series has single-handedly brought back difficulty into video games.
From has 2 games on this list. Bloodborne(92) and Dark Souls 2(91) and Dark Souls 3 which released this year stands at 89. Possibly the most influential studio of its time, From has spawned hundreds of copy cats, some refining, some improving but none could replicate the crushing difficulty and the satisfying victory that From Software promised. Praise the Sun.
Now where to start with this one? They’re perhaps the oldest surviving game makers in the video game industry. Their popular franchises such as Super Mario, The Legend Of Zelda, Pokémon, Metroid, etc are well known and revolutionized gaming with a specific installment (like Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time paving the way for 3D action games and Metroid Prime nailing first person Metroidvania and platforming).
But they have not relied on old releases. Every Zelda game that has come out in the past 5 years have scored over 90 on metacritic. So has Mario and Bayonetta 2. Pound for pound Nintendo appears on this list more than any other publisher and/or dev. They’re also the only big name publisher who aren’t afraid to innovate whether be it via games or hardware.
And this attitude of theirs of challenging the industry norms is exactly why they earn the #1 spot for Best Game Developer Ever in our books.
This brings us to the end of our list. What do you think of the companies we have included. Do you agree? Do you think we have missed out on something? Let us know what is your favorite game dev studio of all time in the comments.