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Hot damn, the new year is already upon us. This means we’ll be playing the full version of Burnout Paradise pretty soon. And yes, Nero and Dante will showcase exactly what Xbox diehards have been missing out on. Everything we play has to be made by someone, and as part of our “looking into the past with love and longing” series throughout January we decided to name the Top 5 Video Game Developers Of 2007. Why? Because the guys who brought you the memorable games of the past year deserve some sort of recognition.
To determine who receives top billing on our list, I gathered the Blend Games staff together for a late night power meeting. Normally things go awry within minutes of the group sitting at a table, but there was surprisingly little blood spilt this time around. Doreen, our lovely assistant, did get a paper cut during the ballot voting process. No need to worry on her behalf, Doreen has been properly compensated for her injuries. The bloody ballots were tallied, and what follows is the result of a late night meeting on a temperate January day.
TOP 5 Video Game Developers Of 2007
RICH KNIGHT: Ha, joke’s on you, Red Octane; Harmonix can survive without you. And survive they did with Rock Band, which many claim to be an even better experience than Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock. Playing Rock Band alone is kind of a bummer, but playing it with friends makes up for it completely with an experience that gets as close to performing on a stage in front of thousands (or hundreds if you’re just starting out) as possible. And part of the reason Harmonix is such a smart company is because they don’t mess with a good concept. Instead, they add every possible thing conceivable to make a game that will be remembered for the ages. My one complaint: Not enough songs. But hey, there’s always the sequel…and DLC.
TIM BERINGER: From Alberta comes one of the few developers who can get away with releasing an average of one game a year and still be considered one of the most successful developers in the business. Past successes of the KotOR series and Neverwinter Nights have shown that when they do release a game that you’ll want to play, they don’t hold back. Their history of releasing games that will completely absorb players and probably rival MMORPGs in ruining your social life continued with this year’s huge release from BioWare was of course Mass Effect. The former doctors have given us another run away hit that shows us the long wait is always worth it as long as we’re waiting on BioWare.
JEFF RICHARD: When Shigeru Miyamoto has a hand in developing anything over the course of the last twelve months, you can bet that Nintendo will be on our top list of developers for the year. When Super Mario Galaxy arrived in November, the gaming world seemed to freeze in place and all of a sudden everyone knew what title would earn the crown of Game Of The Year. Miyamoto’s platforming masterpiece resurrected everyone’s favorite plumber and tossed him into space—and into one of the most innovative and all-around enjoyable games ever released. To say Nintendo is one of the best developers of the year is an understatement, if this was only the first of Mario’s Wii adventures, we’re more confident than ever that the folks at Nintendo can top even this one.
TIM BERINGER: The French developer continued a long standing tradition of success this year. Ubisoft doesn’t cater to any one single demographic of gamers to make their bread and butter. Whether it was Raving Rabbids 2 or Assassin’s Creed, they kept their success going strong through 2007. Anyone who wants to argue the merits of this group of game makers needs just to look at the sales records and reviews of these two games. Raving Rabbids are obscenely fun games that anyone can play and requires a massive rod stuck firmly up into your colon to not enjoy. Ubisoft shows another side with the massive hit, Assassin’s Creed. Stuck at the top of sales charts since its release, this game is still looking to challenge any new title that comes out week after week. This is a testament to Ubisoft’s success. Also, I love Jade Raymond.
1. VALVe Software
JEFF RICHARD: It’s still hard to believe the original Half-Life debuted almost a full decade ago, cementing the name of ‘Valve’ in every hardcore gamers mind. Six years later saw the release of the revolutionary sequel—and the gaming world was changed forever. Now, with the release of HL2, Episodes 1 & 2, Portal and the wildly blast-tacular Team Fortress 2, all in one incredible package courtesy of The Orange Box, it’s hard not to think of Valve as one of the best developers around. Each title provides such a unique experience – have you met…GLaDOS? – that they are easily worth the price of admission as separate titles and together give our vote to Valve as one of the best developers of 2007.
RICH KNIGHT: VALVe, quite simply, makes games for smart people. While others were mindlessly blasting away in Halo 3 and calling people the “N” word, VALVe made the perfect first person offering with The Orange Box, which featured five (count ‘em, FIVE!) amazing games in one, orange tinted package. And these weren’t just any five games, either, but five of the most revolutionary, out of sight, games in the history of gaming. Half-Life 2 and its two episodes explored the deeply woven storyline with computer perfect graphics on the consoles, and Team Fortress 2 offered multi-player mayhem on a ridiculous scale (Just ask Mr. Haas). But Portal offered the greatest offering with its out there physics and intelligent concept. Ah, VALVe. Thanks for catering to the educated gamer. You had a good year last year.
Nominated but didn’t make the cut: Insomniac, Bungie, Naughty Dog, Irrational Games, Infinity Ward, Blizzard, 2K Boston
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