The industry is filled with studios, developers, and publishers. These are six of my favorites.
Raven is a studio that is often sadly overlooked. The quality and polish they put into their titles- both in terms of story and game play- is always top notch. Singularity made it onto my best of the year list for a reason. From X-Men Origins: Wolverine to Wolfenstein, to their extensive back catalog, Raven can do no wrong in my eyes. They’re always guaranteed a sale when they announce a new title.
Atlus, more so than any other publisher in the market today, takes the biggest risks. And those risks lead to a wide array of diverse titles. Disgaea, Persona, Touch Detective… I could go on and on. When I think of important Japanese titles, I think of Atlus.
Rockstar Studios make the games I care most about, almost on a yearly basis. Red Dead was my game of the year for 2010 because, like all of their titles, it had a rich story and fully realized characters that I came to truly care about. It was the gripping book I couldn’t put down, or bear to read the last page of. I live in a GTA title whenever it’s released. And with LA Noire just around the corner, I guarantee you’re not going to see me for a month or two.
Telltale will always mean the world to me not only because they’re keeping the adventure game alive, but because they do it so well, and make it look so easy. Every time they ship a game, I literally say to myself “yeah, I’m totally going to play that.” Their catalog speaks for itself- Back To The Future, Sam and Max, Puzzle Agent, Monkey Island, and now Jurassic Park? Come on, man- it doesn’t get better than Telltale.
Double Fine, with the release of Costume Quest last year, set themselves down a brave new path that I hope they continue to travel over the years. They went from being a studio with two titles under their belt to a fully-realized studio pumping out high quality, diverse titles. I always want to hear what Tim has to say, and even better, he’s put the spotlight on his leads, each with their own unique voice. I can’t wait to see what they release over the next 2-3 years.
If playing GTA 3 all those years ago changed the way I looked at games, Bioshock changed the way I looked at everything. Irrational is a studio that with just one game altered my perception of art and entertainment. They’ve had a huge, lasting impact on me as a writer. Their titles are enduing classics that truly matter whenever serious debate over the merits of games arise. Irrational do more than just make games- they build worlds.
The purpose of this article is this: as a fan, I keep track of directors, writers, artists, and so on. I follow their work because their voices mean something to me. As we now live in an age where games have truly come into their own, I think it’s important for us to do the same in this medium. If you really love a title- if it truly means something to you- figure out who made it, and pay attention to what they have to say. Doing so will tell publishers that the work of these people is worth their continued financial support. Low sales means no more stories.