Thus far we’ve tackled what we thought were the Top 8 New Faces of Gaming this generation and the franchises that needed to take a break and die a little. However, now we’re ready to move on to the guys who create those characters and games and pick out our Top 8 Developers This Generation thus far. Keeping with our last Top 8 list, we’re going to include developers outside of Sony’s umbrella of titles so that the multi-console owners have a reason to discuss this list to no end. A lot of thought went into this one and though many people will still find reason to complain and cry bias or fanboyism, we’re quite content with how it lined up.
To start off, I’d like to say that we’ve seen some pretty amazing games this generation. In my opinion, some of the best games that the industry has ever seen have been created over the last three years and that most likely a lot of developers will build on those for the future of gaming. Thankfully, as a multi-console owner myself, I’ve had the chance to enjoy most of these games (if not all) and would give them all my stamp of approval.
Naughty Dog find itself at the top of our list due to its ability to create outstanding experiences on an architecture that many developers once coined as difficult to develop for. Despite the apparent struggles, Naughty Dog was able to churn out two of the best titles this generation through Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Some would actually argue that Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is one of the greatest games to date – which is saying something in the long run. To us, Naughty Dog has proven that any developer can develop for PlayStation 3 at a high quality and put out a great experience. A couple of other developers on this list have done the same thing as well, but we’ll get to them later.
Despite our article about Activision being the new bad guy of the gaming industry, the impact that Infinity Ward has had through their title, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and soon, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 can’t go unnoticed. While the original has sold over 14 million copies worldwide, it’s expected that the sequel should do much better in sales regardless of the price hike in the United Kingdom. Infinity Ward was able to take a franchise determined to throw out World War II shooter after World War II shooter and turn it into something that most gamers have put countless hours into through a magnificent online multiplayer experience. They’re definitely worthy of being the second developer on this list.
Hideo Kojima is no stranger to video games and while already earning the lifetime achievement award, Kojima has provided this generation with another title that has been argued as the greatest game of all time. While some may complain that the game was very cut-scene heavy, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the visuals were some of the best ever seen in a game and that the story fit the Kojima mold perfectly. Though a lot of gamers feel that Metal Gear Solid 4 was the perfect ending to a franchise that has sold millions, we may see it tainted by another release expected in 2010. We, however, have faith in Kojima and the team he employs and hope that the next iteration will be able to rival or perhaps match the height that Metal Gear Solid 4 achieved.
I know this is a PlayStation fansite, but it would be completely disrespectful to not include Epic Games among the list of top developers this generation. Their visual powerhouse known as the Unreal Engine 3 has allowed for the creation of many games from many developers, but none as iconic as their own franchise, Gears of War. While the game features sheer brute force from over-sized protagonists on their path to save humanity, the co-op experience is one that makes completing the game a joy to go through. If you own a 360 or you have a friend that does, chances are, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
You may be surprised to see EA Canada on this list since they’ve produced titles like NHL 10, FIFA 10 and NBA Live 10, but they deserve it. To be honest, if they weren’t putting out yearly releases, I’d probably have them much higher on this list, but since they do put forth so many titles on a yearly basis, I felt they deserve to be featured at the top of the bottom half of this list. With that in mind, I can’t think of another company that has taken three franchises – two of which were considered 2nd best in their genre – and have turned them into not only the greatest releases for their sport (with the exception of Live), but have put them either on par with the competition or have kicked the competition’s ass completely. Kudos to you EA Canada, Kudos to you.
Yes, this is another Microsoft 360 developer and they deserve to be featured on this list. While Gran Turismo enthusiasts are probably up in arms right now, it’s hard to deny that the Forza franchise has not made great strides through its last two iterations. With customizable gameplay unlike any simulation racer before it, Forza 2 and 3 is set to provide games with unparalleled amount of replayability. If you’ve have the chance to see some of the designs artists have come up with through the livery system, you’d be as impressed as I am. However, considering this is a 360 developer and we’re praising them on a PlayStation site, I’m sure they’ll get the short end of the stick.
I won’t lie. I debated adding Nintendo to this list. Primarily because the top games they’ve developed this generation involve game characters we’ve seen time and time again. However, I felt it would be entirely unfair to slight them in their achievements that they’ve made through Super Mario Galaxy, Wii Sports, and the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Though these are characters I grew up on and think I’ve seen enough of, the development behind these games have stood the test of time and continue to push forward.
SEGA is on here for one title, and one title only – Valkyria Chronicles. Say what you want about their rapid decline in Sonic titles, but Valkyria Chronicles is the best roleplaying game of this generation and I’ll never sway my opinion until I’ve checked out the sequel on PSP. Not only has SEGA made a relevant title for the first time in ages with this one, but they’ve managed to combine a hybrid of Third-Person Shooting, Roleplaying, Strategy-RPG and water paints in order to create a world we’ve never imagined before. Valkyria Chronicles is without a doubt, a masterpiece and I would feel ashamed had I never played it before.