[Top 10] Best Game Developers of All Time

[Top 10] Best Game Developers of All Time
One plumber to rule them all.

Making games is hard, but these folks make eighty-hour work weeks look easy.

Games development is legendarily difficult. It isn’t like painting, or writing a book, or mowing the lawn. Games are interactive, which requires a design perspective appropriately unique to the medium. The following developers and publishers have established a history of getting it right. Not always, but enough to be respected, and some often enough to be loved. From Software, for instance, is batting 1000 so far, which is jock-speak for super sweet. Other developers, like Nintendo, have been around forever and produced so much sterling work over those years, they are the closest thing to game development gods on this lowly earth.

So read on and offer prayers to these idols of game development.


10. From Software

Bloodborne game designer, holding court.

From Software slashed themselves into relevance and onto the PlayStation 3 in 2009. Since then, they have been alternatively delighting, frustrating, and enraging gamers seeking a challenge with alarming consistency. Specializing in what came to be known as the Souls-Type genre they created, From has since released three installments in the Dark Souls franchise, Bloodborne, and Sekiro. Demon’s Souls is slated for a remaster on the upcoming PlayStation 5 console as a launch title and I’ll be slamming my forehead against that masterpiece as soon as inhumanly possible. It is without a doubt the most difficult iteration in the franchise and much like the vaunted honey-badger, it doesn’t have any you know what’s to give about it. I can’t wait to suffer.


9. Capcom

For decades, Capcom has provided blockbuster games. Some have even have been worth playing.

Capcom has been around forever, with “forever” meaning since 1979. They’re older than I am, which takes some work. While not their first title, Street Fighter is the most prominently recognized. They have since created Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, Mega Man, Dragon’s Dogma, Onimusha, and a whole slew of other franchises; many of which are great. Over such a long career of making games, it is highly likely one will produce a stinker or two. But the unmentionable shall go unmentioned. Dragon’s Dogma was a surprisingly enjoyable RPG, something Capcom isn’t generally known for but delivered on anyway.


8. Team Ninja

Team Ninja specializes in ninja-related games thus far.

Team Ninja was formed in 1995 as one of many developer organs making up the Tecmo company. While Team Ninja did not create the first couple Ninja Gaiden games, they did create the best one in 2004. They’d already created Dead or Alive by that point and they continue to develop that franchise. But their greatest contribution over the years is easily Nioh; an action RPG nodding so heavily to Dark Souls one is concerned it could topple over any moment. Nioh 2 was released last year and is damned near perfect. Difficult, punishing, and highly customizable, it will punish your thumbs and various other digits as long as you can take it.


7. SNK

A collection of SNK-created fighting game characters who for once are not trying to kill each other.

I grew up in arcades, which for the unenlightened born during the COVID-19 era, were places people could go to play games and spread their filthy hand germs all over the controls. These infectious, super spreader events known as arcades were where one went to get schooled in the art of beating pixel ass. Drop a quarter on deck and you were up next, facing off against whoever won the last round. I spent most of my time (and money) getting walloped by kids half my age, having to tiptoe on a stool to even reach the controls. But I picked up a trick or two from those years when SNK dominated the arcade market. These days, SNK’s games are occasionally remastered and new installments surface now and then. They’re worth a sniff, if just as an archaeologist. They defined the fighting game genre, more or less.


6. Epic Games

Just short of legendary, there is Epic.

Epic Games has been around for a bit and during that time they’ve produced a few great games, maneuvered themselves into a storefront, developed the industry standard engine for game development, and apparently also produced Fortnite. I’ve never heard of Fortnite. I assume it is one of those fort building games where you position cannons to shoot orcs, or something. But when I wasn’t in arcades, largely due to having gone bust from getting my ass whooped at fighting games, I was clocking in hours on Unreal. It was lightning fast, players could be immensely aerial, and the audio was top notch. GOD MODE. Alas, Unreal Tournament 4 was recently canceled. SAD MODE.


5. Valve

Kids are getting the strangest piercings these days.

Valve was founded in my neck of the woods in 1996 and since then they have more or less dominated the way people get hold of their games. They created Steam, the standard go-to for getting games on PC these days. But they couldn’t have done that without the cash-money they made from producing Half-Life and Counter Strike. While Half-Life 3 has never been promised, people still ask the founder of Valve when they’re going to get around to making it, anyway. He tends to roll his eyes in response, but that hasn’t prevented people from speculating Half-Life 3 is just on the horizon for about fifteen years now. In the meantime, we got Portal. Gabe Newell is a monster.


4. Konami

The Code of a Generation.

Konami is an older developer, having been around as long as I have. While I was producing used diapers, Konami pumped out Castlevania, Contra, Gradius, Metal Gear, and a ton of other franchises. For a while, all Konami games came with a poorly kept secret, affectionately known as the Konami Code. To this day, geriatric gamers can recite it. Ahem. Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start. This code hooked up players with thirty lives to spend as they tromp through various Konami games. I don’t want to brag, but I once had to finish Contra without dying once as a certification tester at Xbox. It was a fun job, even if it didn’t pay well. Someone had to test the achievements, after all, and that was a sacrifice I was willing to make. I have a sterling work ethic. I could not have done it without all that practice as a kid, enabled by the Konami Code.


3. Bethesda

Bethesda was founded in Bethesda, Maryland. This lack of creativity is not reflected in their games.

Bethesda was founded in 1986 but wouldn’t produce anything I encountered until picking Daggerfall up out of a bargain bin at one of those PC games stores that don’t exist anymore. It had a neat cover. Once games hardware could (sort of) handle it, they released Morrowind, its sequel. This game was amazing for its time; a gigantic open world the player could explore and get destroyed after having taken a wrong turn at that last swamp. Bethesda upped their game further with Oblivion and then even further with Skyrim. Each release from this studio, whose games are commonly understood to be quite buggy, are gigantic affairs stuffed with content. Personally, I’ve dumped at least three hundred hours into each of these games. They also did Fallout, same deal. Giant, full of content, buggy as hell, and absolutely wonderful. Fallout has far more comedic aspects than Elder Scrolls; you know, the kind of sense of humor one enjoys when the world has ended, your neighbors are irradiated super mutant cannibals, and your only companion worth anything is a talking toaster.


2. Nintendo

The oldest games company around.

Believe it or not, Nintendo was founded in the late 19th century. That’s right, 1889. Mark Twain was still alive. They have always made games, though not always video games. Card games, pachinko machines, you name it. In 1985 they got involved with this hot, new computer thing and released the Nintendo Entertainment System, affectionately dubbed the NES by nerds the world round. Since that time, Nintendo has produced dozens of excellent franchises and more than a few consoles they exclusively play on, ensuring their continued relevance in the gaming industry. You can’t get Zelda on a PlayStation and you can’t get Mario on an Xbox. Nintendo and I aren’t on speaking terms these days, but they still deserve a nod for having raised me as a child and the understanding they simply created most of the game genres we know today.


1. Square-Enix

Every new Final Fantasy announcement immediately opens my wallet, which makes itself available.

Square-Enix is the beloved lovechild of two companies, both with sterling credentials. Squaresoft, the creators of Final Fantasy, and Enix the creators of Dragon Quest. The first RPG I played was called Dragon Warrior, which for some reason or another was how Dragon Quest was translated for US versions of the franchise. I was hooked immediately and consumed each subsequent Dragon Warrior/Quest and every single Final Fantasy title to date. The merger of these two companies has been mostly positive. There always seems to be cash flowing around for developing my favorite franchises and I do my part by unquestionably buying whatever slop Square-Enix serves up. Not only has Square-Enix set the standard for RPGs on consoles, they also regularly raise the bar on CG animation at large. Companies like Pixar, specializing in CG animated movies, often fall short in comparison to these game makers. It isn’t their fault as Square has been at it for decades by now. From the looks of things, they will be for a couple more to come, as well.


These developers have been hooking up pure gold, consistently, for a long time by now. While there have been some stumbles along the way, they appear to be doing something right.

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A geriatric gamer, R.B. Lamb has enjoyed calloused thumbs for decades by now. Hailing from the Emerald City, also known as Seattle, he aspires to someday take flight with the other monkeys.
Gamer Since: 1984
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2
Top 3 Favorite Games:Dark Souls 3 , Diablo, The Talos Principle

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