Yay! We’ve already looked at the top 20 video games of all time, now lets look at the greatest and most influential game studios behind them.
1. Nintendo EAD
Known for: Mario, Zelda, Star Fox, Kirby, Metroid, F-Zero, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Pikmin, Wii, Fire Emblem
Surprised? Don’t be. Nintendo EAD is Nintendo. The main reason for Nintendo’s success and dominance, especially since the Gamecube, is because of the strength of its first party games. The Mario, Zelda, Star Fox, Wii, Kirby, Fire Emblem, Metroid franchises all come from this developer. Their influence cannot be understated – the strength of Nintendo’s first party games influenced a massive amount of developers and continue to be the main reason why Nintendo sells consoles. They are the greatest video game developer of all time.
Known for: Megaman, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Monster Hunter, Devil May Cry
Capcom’s ability to remain relevant for three decades has really established why its such a great developer. From the Megaman properties, a series that set a standard for level design, to the Resident Evil series, another series that set a standard for horror games, to the Street Fighter series, a series that set a standard for fighting games, Capcom’s properties are among the most influential of all time.
Known for: Pong, Centipede, Yar’s Revenge, Asteroids, Breakout, Missile Command
Atari was the first video game developer ever, so its influence cannot be understated. From the development of Pong way back in 1972, to its current status as a publisher, and the first successful video game console in history, the Atari 2600, Atari basically created the foundations for Nintendo and other video game companies to beat.
Known for: Contra, Castlevania, Metal Gear, Frogger, Silent Hill, Yu-Gi-Oh, Dance Dance Revolution
We can thank Japan for producing some of the most well known and successful video game franchises ever, with Konami as one of the top developers. Konami dominated with franchises like Contra, Castlevania, Metal Gear and Frogger and continues to dominate the arcade market with Dance dance revolution. It produced some of the most successful games of all time.
5. Square Enix
Known for: Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Kingdom Hearts, Star Ocean, Mana series
Square Enix is well known as one of the most influential RPG developers of all time, with such franchises as Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts and Dragon Quest. These games defined a standard for Japanese role playing games. Its roots go back to the creation of Enix (Dragon Quest, Star Ocean, etc), and the company Squaresoft, which produced such classics as Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana.
6. iD software
Known for: Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake, RAGE
iD Software created the most influential video game ever, Doom, which set a standard for all FPS’s since. It also created such other influential games as Commander Keen, the first smooth side scrolling platformer for PCs, Wolfenstein 3D, which paved the way for Doom, and Quake, which refined multiplayer gaming in the FPS genre.
Known for: Pitfall, River Raid, MechWarrior, Interstate
Activision was the first independent video game developer and publisher ever, and created a lasting influence, from its Atari days with games like Pitfall to the present day with its status as a publisher for various other video game developers like Infinity Ward, Neversoft, Harmonix etc Its success prompted other video game developers to start publishing its own games as well.
Known for: Pac-man, Galaga, Pole Position, Tekken, Soul Calibur, Ridge Racer
A powerhouse developer since the Atari days, with games such as Pac-man, Galaga, Pole Position and Dig Dug, to modern day influential games like Tekken and Soul Calibur, Namco has been going strong for many many years, and as a result it’s one of the most influential game developers ever.
Known for: Sonic the Hedgehog, Golden Axe, Phantasy Star, Virtua Fighter, Yakuza
A company that dominated the home console market in early 90s, Sega is synonymous with its mascot Sonic the Hedgehog, although the studio did develop numerous other titles for its gaming consoles such as Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Phantasy Star, etc. Sega’s influence both as a video game developer and console maker is still felt today.
Known for: Space Invaders, Bubble Bobble, Cooking Mama
Taito created some of the most popular arcade games of the late 70s and early 80s, such as Space Invaders, Bubble Bobble (aka Bust a Move) and Arkanoid, and continues today with its Cooking Mama series
11. Rockstar Games
Known for: Grand Theft Auto, Midnight Club, Max Payne, Red Dead Redemption
Rockstar influenced a number of developers with its Grand Theft Auto series, also one of the best selling video game series of all time. Not many video game publishers can claim that they beat blockbuster movie openings, but Rockstar can claim it. It’s mastery of the open world genre, with games such as Grand Theft Auto, L.A Noire, Red Dead Redemption brings a new standard that other developers strive to follow.
Known for: Warcraft, Diablo, Starcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch
No surprise to see Blizzard on here. They made/make some of the most addictive multiplayer games of all time. They set the standard for real time strategy games with Warcraft and Starcraft series, which are still played today, the influential RPG game Diablo series, and of course the most popular MMORPG of all time, World of Warcraft.
Known for: Half Life, Portal, Counter Strike, Left 4 Dead
Another video game developer well known for its mastery of multiplayer games is Valve. They created the landmark Half life and Half life 2, both of which set standards for FPS games, then the innovative puzzle games Portal and Portal 2, along with the popular multiplayer standards Counterstrike and Left 4 Dead. They also developed and created the Steam platform, which many game developers use these days to distribute their games.
14. EA Maxis
Known for: The Sims, SimCity, Spore
Well known for their dominance in the simulation genre, Maxis created the most popular PC franchise of all time, The Sims, along with other influential titles such as SimCity and Spore. Many of their early simulation games were very innovative as well, such as SimAnt, SimFarm, SimEarth, SimLife, SimTower, SimIsle and SimHealth.
15. Epic Games
Known for: Gears of War, Jazz Jackrabbit, Unreal Tournament, Fortnite
A powerhouse developer back in the DOS days, Epic Games created such DOS classics as Jazz Jackrabbit, One Must Fall, Unreal Tournament, Overkill, Jill of the Jungle, Kiloblaster, before being known now for the developer of the Fortnite, Gears of War series and the Unreal Engine which is used in a variety of other games.
Known for: Star Wars games, Indiana Jones games, Monkey Island series
LucasArts has created a number of memorable games in almost every genre including the Monkey Island series, Knights of the Old Republic series, Rogue Squadron series, Jedi Knight series, Battlefront series, and they consistently turn up innovative titles for their Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises.
Known for: Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Anthem
Bioware is one of the most influential RPG makers of all time. Bioware has great storytelling in such classic titles as Dragon Age and Mass Effect, and I believe this has influenced other RPGs a great deal.
Known for: Donkey Kong Country, Goldeneye 007, Perfect Dark, Banjo Kazooie, Kinect Sports, BattleToads, Killer Instinct
Rare, now owned by Microsoft, used to make some of the greatest Nintendo games of all time. Donkey Kong country, Banjo Kazooie, Perfect Dark, Goldeneye 007, Killer Instinct, etc all boosted the Nintendo 64 sales. Its arguable that without Rare, the Nintendo 64 wouldn’t have sold many units at all. Now, they make the Kinect series of games for Microsoft.
19. EA Canada
Known for: Need for Speed, FIFA, NBA Live, NCAA, NHL, NFL
It’s EA’s biggest studio, and develops the Need for Speed series, as well as the majority of the EA Sports games, including the FIFA, NBA Live and NHL series. These series have influenced many sports games since their time, and many have pretty much a monopoly in their sports game genre.
Known for: Elder Scrolls, Fallout
Along with Bioware, two of the great Western RPG makers, Bethesda’s strength is in the vastness of its worlds rather than storytelling like Bioware. The hundreds of hours you can sink into games like Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim and Fallout 3 just give you an idea of how much time the developers put into each game.
21. Ubisoft Montreal
Known for: Assassin’s Creed, Prince of Persia, Tom Clancy, Far Cry, Watch Dogs
The biggest studio of Ubisoft, Ubisoft Montreal pumps out their biggest hits. The Assassins Creed series and Far Cry series have set standards for open world games in their breadth and visual beauty. The Tom Clancy series were well received stealth focused games, and Prince of Persia was one of the pioneering platformer puzzle games.
Known for: Marathon, Halo, Destiny
The savior of Microsoft’s Xbox game console, Bungie started off on the MacOS platform with the Marathon FPS games before being bought by Microsoft, and coming into prominence with the Halo series. Now, Bungie makes most of its revenue from its Destiny game series.
23. 2K Sports
Known for: MLB series, NBA 2K, NHL 2K, WWE 2K
The biggest studio of 2K Games, 2K Sports developed some of the most critically acclaimed and greatest sports franchises ever, with the standard for Baseball, Basketball, Hockey and Wrestling being set by the MLB, NBA, NHL and WWE series respectively.
24. Game Freak
Known for: Pokemon
Game Freak only develops one video game series: Pokemon, but its one of the most popular video game series of all time, and is one of Nintendo’s most profitable divisions.
25. Naughty Dog
Known for: Crash Bandicoot, Jak & Daxter, Uncharted, Last of Us
Naughty Dog focuses on quality over quantity, and its shows. Almost all of its games are well acclaimed games focusing on pushing the limits of the console it was developed for, and a focus on innovative story telling.
-Insomniac Games (Spyro the Dragon, Resistance, Ratchet & Clank)
-Harmonix (Karaoke Revolution, Guitar Hero, Rock Band)
-Atlus (Shin Megami Tensei, Persona, Catherine)
-Infinity Ward (Call of Duty)
-Gearbox Software (Brothers in Arms, Duke Nukem, Borderlands)
-Obsidian Entertainment (Knights of Old Republic II, Fallout New Vegas, Neverwinter Nights 2)
-Firaxis Games (Civilization)
-Neversoft (Tony Hawk Pro Skater, Guitar Hero)
-Interplay (Wasteland, Fallout, Baldur’s Gate)
-Broderbund (Lode Runner, Myst, Prince of Persia)