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Top 10 Legendary Video Game Development Studios

VO: Dan Paradis
Script written by Nick Spake Without these developers, the video game industry wouldn’t be what it is today. Join WatchMojo.com as we countdown our picks for the Top 10 Legendary Video Game Development Studios. For this list, we’re not taking a look at game publishers, but developers that create games. These development studios pioneered amazing titles, started iconic franchises or whole new genres, though aren't necessarily as active today. Special Thanks to our users "MegaGeek79" "Ye Biz" & "DemKin" for suggesting this topic on our suggestion page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Nick Spake

Top 10 Legendary Video Game Development Studios


Without these developers, the video game industry wouldn’t be what it is today. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Legendary Video Game Development Studios.

For this list, we’re not taking a look at game publishers, but developers that create games. These development studios pioneered amazing titles, started iconic franchises or whole new genres, though aren't necessarily as active today.

#10: Sega AM2


Back in its glorious heydays, Sega was a major player in the video game industry. This is largely thanks to Sega AM2, a division of the company lead by the great Yu Suzuki. Delivering several classic arcade and console titles, AM2 blew the socks off gamers in 1985 with “Hang-On.” the first arcade games to utilize 16-bit graphics. However it was the mid 90’s early 3D era that made AM2 a household name, thanks to its “Virtua” series of arcade games, like Virtua Racing, to Virtua Fighter to Virtua Cop. However, their most memorable title would be an Arcade mainstay for more than 2 decades with Daytona USA.

#9: Capcom


In addition to publishing, Capcom has developed some of the most enduring video game franchises ever . “Street Fighter” and especially its follow-up helped elevate the fighting genre to another level of popularity. Although “Mega Man” wasn’t a huge hit upon release, it’s slick platforming and pioneering stage select option eventually caught the attention of many, amounting to numerous sequels. The studio has also left its mark on the survival horror genre with the “Resident Evil” series, which would go on to inspire “Devil May Cry.” Granted, Capcom may rely too heavily on sequels and some of their key franchises arguably peaked a long time ago. Regardless, their reputation will always have fans coming back for more.

#8: LucasArts


It shouldn’t come as a surprise that LucasArts developed plenty of “Star Wars” games, including “X-Wing” and “Dark Forces.” Some of their most beloved titles, however, were point-and-click adventures like “Sam & Max: Hit the Road” and “Grim Fandango.” These games not only won people over with inventive puzzles, but offbeat comedy as well. “The Secret of Monkey Island” in particular demonstrated that video games could be consistently hilarious, putting an emphasis on clever writing and lovable characters. After Disney acquired Lucasfilm, LucasArts sadly ceased developing games. Ah well, at least many of the company’s chief developers have gone on to other great projects. Plus, maybe Guybrush Threepwood will team up with Jack Sparrow someday. It could happen!

#7: Westwood Studios


Westwood Studio will forever be remembered as the developer that launched real-time strategy games into the mainstream. They laid the groundwork for the genre in “Dune II” and took the world by storm with the immensely successful “Command and Conquer” franchise. Westwood dominated plenty of other genres too. The “Eye of the Beholder” games stand out as two of the most engrossing Western RPGs the 90’s had to offer. Through their adaptation of “The Lion King,” Westwood also reminded us that video games based on movies could actually be pretty awesome. Unfortunately, Electronic Arts shut down the studio in 2003. During its incredible run, though, Westwood came, saw, and of course conquered.

#6: id Software


Long before there was “Halo” or “Call of Duty,” there was a first-person shooter called “Wolfenstein 3D.” Aside from pioneering the FPS genre, “Wolfenstein 3D” put id Software on the map due to its gory violence and mind-blowing graphics… well, mind-blowing for 1992. id Software only became more prominent with “Doom,” which significantly upped the ante, not to mention the bloodshed and weapons. “Quake” was yet another landmark for the studio, showcasing groundbreaking 3D technology and online multiplayer. And, with Doom 4, or now known as just DOOM, it’s looking like id’s still got a lot of fight left in em’.

#5: SquareSoft


When people think of JRPGs, chances are one of SquareSoft’s phenomenal titles come to mind. Over the years, this company gave us some of the best characters and stories in the history of video games. Best known for the never-ending “Final Fantasy” franchise, Square also developed several standalone masterpieces, including “The Secret of Mana” and “Super Mario RPG.” “Chrono Trigger” in particular might just be the greatest JRPG of all time. Entering the 21st century, Square would continue to take on bold project, such as fan favorite “Kingdom Hearts.” Even though Square merged with Enix and officially became Square Enix in 2003, there’s still a light in there that’ll never go out.

#4: Konami


Believe it or not, Konami actually started out as a jukebox business. Upon experimenting with arcade games, however, the company found its true calling with a little game called “Frogger.” From there, they proved to be one of the most versatile game studios around. From beat 'em ups like “Turtles in Time,” to shooters like “Contra,” to RPGs like “Suikoden,” to music games like “Dance Dance Revolution,” Komani has mastered virtually every genre. They’ve also made one hit franchise after another, including “Castlevania,” “Silent Hill,” and “Metal Gear Solid.” With All that said, it’s rather sad that the company has made some somewhat self-destructive decisions over the last few years. What happened to you guys?

#3: Rare


Rare achieved early success on the NES with games like “Battletoads,” but truly peaked upon becoming a second-party developer for Nintendo. Between the fourth and fifth eras of video game consoles, everything Rare touched turned to gold. “Conker’s Bad Fur Day,” “Banjo-Kazooie,” and the “Donkey Kong Country” trilogy would significantly influence the platform genre for generations to come. They additionally delivered one of the defining multiplayer games with “GoldenEye 007,” as well as its spiritual successor “Perfect Dark.” While it looked like Rare would never run out of gas, everything seemed to go downhill when Microsoft acquired the company. Rare’s glory days might be well behind them, but we can still revisit some of their timeless games on the “Rare Replay” collection.

#2: Valve Corporation


It’s hard to think of a video game developer that’s taken more chances with first-person shooters than the Valve Corporation. This developer reinvigorated the genre with their debut game, “Half-Life.” At a time when most FPS games were all about shooting first and asking questions never, this 1998 title immersed players in an atmospheric environment with intelligent A.I., an involving story, and unique weapons. Valve would maintain everything that made “Half-Life” extraordinary in its 2004 sequel, along with other ambitious games like “Portal” and “Team Fortress 2.” If you’ve never had the pleasure of playing a Valve game, go buy a copy of “The Orange Box” immediately! Just don’t ask when “Half-Life 3” is coming out.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Origin System
Maxis
MicroProse
Sierra Entertainment

#1: Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development


Nintendo EAD is the only company to make our top 10 lists for both modern and legendaryvideo game development studios, and it’s easy to see why. During a dark era when games seemed like a passing fad, they breathed new life into the medium with immortal titles like “Super Mario Bros,” “The Legend of Zelda,” and too many others to list here. In the decades to come, Nintendo EAD would continue to break new grounds in terms of graphics, controls, and gameplay. This division recently became part of Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development. While EPD has big shoes to fill, we’re hopeful that they’ll manage to keep Nintendo relevant in the increasingly competitive video game market.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite legendary video game development studio? For more entertaining Top 10s published everyday, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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