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2006's Top 20 Game Publishers Ranked

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the who's-your-favorite dept.

Games 33

simoniker writes "Game Developer magazine's Top 20 Publishers list for 2006 has been published online — the list from the industry magazine ranks publishers by using multiple factors, including revenue, average game review score, and anonymous feedback from game industry insiders. In the 2006 version of the poll, which looks at software produced (and doesn't factor in hardware), Electronic Arts came out on top, closely followed by Nintendo, with Buena Vista Games and NCSoft making first entries into the Top 20."

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EA is the best game publisher? (5, Insightful)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509444)

Geez, that's nice. I bet by their metric WalMart is the best place to shop, McDonald's is the best place to eat, and MySpace is the best way to have a presence on the Internet.

Re:EA is the best game publisher? (3, Insightful)

MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509588)

Looks to be ordered by revenue. Shows that games are just like movies - quality is not king.... Sad, unfortunate, unsurprising.

Re:EA is the best game publisher? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509742)

Hey, you know the saying that ends in "billions of flies can't be wrong"...

Re:EA is the best game publisher? (1)

eviloverlordx (99809) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509942)

Geez, that's nice. I bet by their metric WalMart is the best place to shop, McDonald's is the best place to eat, and MySpace is the best way to have a presence on the Internet.

I think EA just slipped 'em a few 20s to move things 'in a more positive direction', so to speak.

What about best jobs? (0, Troll)

BlasphemerGimli (1041894) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509612)

All you people ever think of is games, games, games!!!!! What about what really makes people happy? How about the Top 20 Jobs?

OMG!!! I think some screwed up spirit is channeling through me and made me write that!

Please excuse the interruption and go back to whatever game you playing! I'll try to make sure this doesn't happen again!!!

Re:What about best jobs? (1)

BlasphemerGimli (1041894) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511342)

I am sorry that this was taken as being troll.

My aim was to be humorous, but it appears I am alone in my opinion.

Atari... Still there... (3, Interesting)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509620)

I'm surprised that Atari is still on the list and NWN2 was not mentioned (should've been the big title for this past holiday season). Atari been in a downward spiral since I left the company as a lead tester in 2004 after being there for six years. Most of the studios that were originally acquired at two to four times their actual worth before the dot com bust been sold off for pennies on the dollar. The only thing they have left is the back catalog and a few new titles. Looks like all hope is riding on the re-launch of the "Alone in the Dark" franchise. This is the same company that thought that the Matrix franchise would save the day.

Correlation (1)

silentounce (1004459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509868)

Well, obviously, the solution to Atari's problems is for you to go back to your job as a lead tester.

Re:Correlation (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510748)

No chance in hell since I was number three out of a dozen senior testers to leave the department that year after an unpopular supervisor became the QA manager. Last I heard from friends still on the inside, it's a dark and evil place now.

Re:Atari... Still there... (1)

lotsotech (848683) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509974)

Atari just barely made the list and NWN2 *was* mentioned though this article was originally published in October. By the way, were you lead tester on Temple of Elemental Evil because I think you missed a few things?

Re:Atari... Still there... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510632)

If you want to know what titles I was responsible for, check out my resume [] . Temple of Elemental Evil was not my bomb, it wasn't even QA's bomb. It was one of those titles that had to ship so the company could make the quarterly numbers. In the strange world of financial numbers, it's better to ship the product and have it DOA in the marketplace instead screwing the quarterly numbers to have a product that does well in the marketplace. As usual, QA got blamed for the title not doing well even though we shouted at everyone that the title was DOA.

Re:Atari... Still there... (1)

PyroMosh (287149) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511936)

Could you explain that a little more? I don't follow at all.
What about the companies renowned for a "when it's done" philosiphy, like Nintendo, Blizard, Valve, and one might even say 3D Realms?

Basicly what you're saying is that after an investment of say, $10 Million, you'd rather ship your product the quarter it's scheduled for and have it take a loss, or very little gain (Say, $15 Million in Rev) than you would wait two quarters and have it bring in say, $50 Million, but in a different financial quarter.

I understand the need to show products to the shareholders, and the need to show a growth in rev, even if it's not nessisarily accompanied by a growth in margin. But what you're saying... well, I don't understand. That's incredibly short sighted and dumb.

Re:Atari... Still there... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512210)

That's incredibly short sighted and dumb.

It is and that's how some companies operate. The Atari stock price been on a downward spiral for the last six years, going from $10/share to $0.60/share. (A recent reverse split got the stock price up to $5+/share, now trading under ATARD -- which rhymes with "retard" in my mind.) If the numbers are missed for the quarter, then the stock could tank because it didn't meet analyst's expectation. Atari's parent company, Infogrames (France), is on the verge of bankruptcy and the Atari stock is the only thing keeping it going. A lot of decisions made by Infogrames/Atari is meant to keep the stock up until things turn around -- if it ever does.

The List (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17509662)

The list is helpfully spread out over nine pages, so here it is in full:

1. Electronic Arts
2. Nintendo
3. Activision
4. Sony Computer Entertainment
5. Take-Two Interactive
6. Microsoft Game Studios
7. THQ
8. Ubisoft
9. Konami
10. Sega Sammy Holdings
11. Namco Bandai
12. Vivendi Games
13. Square-Enix
14. Capcom
15. NCSoft
16. SCi/Eidos
17. Lucasarts
18. Buena Vista Games
19. Atari
20. Midway

One line caught my eye, though: "Square Enix nurtured its online games business during the period, with Final Fantasy XI receiving an expansion during the year and increasing its subscriber base to over 500,000 users."

This is amusing, because prior to the release of WoW, they had 650,000 subscribers. Apparently their subscriber base has increased by an impressive -150,000 subscribers.

Where's Rio Grande? (1)

Bohnanza (523456) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512252)

Any list that doesn't include Rio Grande Games at or near the top is just plain wrong.

Re:Where's Rio Grande? (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17513554)

Or, it means Rio Grande Games wasn't one of the top money earners in 2006, as the list is ranked by revenue, not opinions.

Re:Where's Rio Grande? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17514062)

Or, if you look up who Rio Grande Games is, that a board-game publisher MIGHT not show up in a list of video game publishers. (Although, to be fair, I suppose not everyone knows that Game Developer Magazine is a magazine for video game developers.)

Re:Where's Rio Grande? (1)

Bohnanza (523456) | more than 7 years ago | (#17515128)

Nah, I'm just being snarky because it cheeses me off that /. pretends that there are no games that don't require a processer to run. Articles never specify "Electronic" games, just "Games" as if that's the only type that exists. In the last five years I've had way more fun playing Rio Grande's releases than ANY by the companies on that list. Although their revenue certainly doesn't come close to that of EA, I believe that if enough people tried Rio Grande's games IT WOULD.

Best Practices? (5, Funny)

ThinkWeak (958195) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509754)

FTA: For the fourth year in a row, EA resides at the top of our ranking. Despite a loss reported in its earnings for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2006, a $15.6 million settlement paid to end a lawsuit over the company's labor practices, and results below company expectations in 2005's holiday season, the publisher managed to maintain robust revenue.

So aside from mistreating employees, monopolizing sports licenses, and releasing buggy/featureless/innovationless drivel - they are the #1 Publisher? Fantastic. Maybe the rest of the world will catch on to this business model. Imagine, the next time you go out to a restaurant you are greeted by a hostess who spits in your face, serves you Chef Boyardee, and then proceeds to drop-kick the bus boy.

I hope everyone enjoys their next copy of Madden with New live-action direct bank account debits. It'll be the shiz.

Re:Best Practices? (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17513612)

Are you familiar with the expression "Nice guys finish last"? Apparently it is true...

Forgot their target audience? (2, Insightful)

Jartan (219704) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510260)

I found this pretty suprising from gamastura. For a "game developer's" top 20 you'd think it would be about either who's good to work for or about who does a good job of encouraging good game development.

In either case EA would obviously be near the bottom of the list.

Re:Forgot their target audience? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17510716)

this isn't a list composed by Gamasutra... It's composed by "Game Developers" it's a magazine. Your reading the sentance wrong:
"Game developers, top 20 list"
Not "The top 20 Game developers list"

What about Insomniac? (1)

DanCentury (110562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510696)

Insomniac only puts out one game per year, but they're always entertaining and usually more creative than the average game.

Re:What about Insomniac? (1)

Fiver- (169605) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511736)

Insomniac's a game developer. Their publisher is Sony, which is on the list.

Re:What about Insomniac? (1)

DanCentury (110562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17513738)

Developer is to publisher, like an musician is to a music label. I get it. I learn something new every day.

Take 2, best at not paying royalties (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17510808)

maybe take 2 publish some great games, but they treat their 3rd party devs like dirt. trying to get royalties out of them is like getting blood out of a stone. Thats way after they have finished all the dodgy accounting practices in the book to avoid having to pay the developer *anything*.
When your game sells 30k copies and the scumbag publisher doesn't pay up a dime in royalties, you *know* you are being screwed, added to the fact that they deliberately make it impossible to get to talk to anyone in their finance dept.
I've stopped buying games published by these thieves a long time ago. If you care about how developers get treated, don't buy take2 published games.

Sources for the article? (1)

DeeDob (966086) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511372)

I wonder what their sources are?

I read in my local newspaper that Ubisoft is located at fourth place, yet this is not what this article is saying. What numbers do they use to calculate their ranks? Or who's lying? my local newspaper, or Gamasutra?

And didn't the headquarters of Ubisoft moved from Paris to Montreal some years ago?

I doubt the quality of the list.

EA's first, no surprise there. But for the rest?

Re:Sources for the article? (1)

Fulg (138866) | more than 7 years ago | (#17513104)

I read in my local newspaper that Ubisoft is located at fourth place, yet this is not what this article is saying.
That's what I remember as well.

And didn't the headquarters of Ubisoft moved from Paris to Montreal some years ago?
No, the headquarter is still in Paris. The president of the Montreal branch changed though, creating a small scandal since the original one (a fervent defender of the Non-Compete Agreement) left for Vivendi...

Re:Sources for the article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17520802)

Ubisoft is indeed the #4 independent publisher in America (and #3 in Europe). Their world-wide ranking is lower because they are not active at all in Japan. Also, by independent they means "excluding Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony".

Gamasutra's list is for worldwide revenues and includes console manufacturers.

Top 20? (1)

Odin_Tiger (585113) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511912)

I can't believe there were 20 publishers worth note at all this year (at least for the period considered for the list). It's kind of been a crap year for games...most of the games I currently list as recent favorites or can recall being excited about were in '05. There are some out just recently (Rainbow Six: Vegas, Call of Duty 3) and coming soon (Spore, Warhammer MMO), but mostly it's been a dud year, to me at least.

Re:Top 20? (1)

jfodale (1032534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512176)

Agreed. Save the late entry Gears of War, nothing has really caught my eye recently.

wow (0, Offtopic)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511932)

I find it hard to believe they are still making games for TOPS-20. The PDP-10 is a nice box but really it can't hold a candle to my Amiga.

Lobbying is the key (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17523136)

Just follow the connections between EA and CMP, Gamasutra mother company...

Just googling at bit, Steve McGill, CMP Game Group's Director of Sales had -along with other CMP people- connections with a company called Coach MEdia "the leading full-service training, coaching and consulting company focused on the media sales industry".
Checking [] we see both CMP and EA are clients of Coach MEdia, perfect match.
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