So the fourth annual Develop 100 results are in, which means we now know which developers are currently wearing the most towering money-hats, based on UK retail in 2007. Multi-format types are busy cooing tediously about Nintendo’s place at the top of the list, but it’s all a little different if you squint at the roster through PC-tinted spectacles.
Infinity Ward and Maxis sitting pretty in the top ten is all very obvious – though, much as I liked it, Call of Duty 4’s continuing omnipresence has me worried about the inevitable plague of indistinguishable modern combaty shooters we’re gonna see in droves over the next year or two – but what really caught my eye was Rebellion, at number 16 with $20m of happy. In fact, they’re the number 1
European independent European studio in the Develop 100.
Now, in my confused, backwards head, Rebellion were still the plucky PC-centric Brit studio who made my beloved Aliens Versus Predator, and then fucked themselves right up with that abominable Judge Dredd game. Rogue Trooper was a surprise return to form, the sort of 75-80%-scoring game that proves exactly why 75-80% means fun, not failure (now there’s a game for a Retro piece), while, despite being fairly well-received, Sniper Elite seemed to sink without trace upon release.
Last I heard of them, they’d made a universally-reviled AvP game for PSP. And yet there they are, 2007’s 16th highest-earning developer. And it’s all down, apparently, to handheld versions of The Simpsons, Harry Potter and Star Wars Battlefront. Well, congratulations, chaps. It’s just… I’ve been secretly hoping for years that Rebellion would strike back with some awesome new PC game that finally followed up on AvP’s greatness. If they’re doing this well from milking the license cashcow, I can’t see that happening. Perhaps, though, they can spend their $20m on something incredible.
Sports Interactive are the next big PC-centric name, at 23, still doing ever so well by combining football and numbers for people who like football and numbers. 2K Boston/Australia, formerly Irrational, lurk at 42 with $9m, so Bioshock apparently earned just a 1/4 of what Call of Duty 4 did. With Halo 3 also receiving a light beating by COD4’s hand, sci-fi certainly doesn’t seem to be flavour of the month anymore.
Epic, Blizzard and Bethesda follow in no short order, and ooh, there’s Valve at 58, with $6.8m. Of course, this list only reflects olde worlde retail, so Valve would be much higher up were Steam sales of The Orange Box included. Same goes for Blizzard’s relatively low placing, at 47 – a few hundred thousand UK WoW subscriptions would surely push them all the way to the top. Hence, the whole list, for all its curiosity value, isn’t a terribly meaningful picture of videogaming in 2007.
Anyway, The Creative Assembly are doing pretty well at 72 and Relic are in at 89, but otherwise I can’t see a lot more that are particularly PC in there, unless you include the thousand different EA and Ubisoft sub-studios. Enough aimless wiffle, anyway – read the full list here.