Our retrospective of the Develop 100's eight-year history reveals the evolution of games
The Develop 100 has been published since 2005, and over eight years has chronicled the world’s top studios based on a variety of different metrics.
We have analysed the top studios around the world through criteria such as UK retail revenues, reputation, review scores, general standing in the industry and as voted for by game critics.
Below we take a look back on past Develop 100's, and how each volume has presented the changing face of the industry, and also how some of the top earners have in fact remained the same, despite years of upheval and transitions to new platforms.
The latest Develop 100 goes live on Friday, and will showcase the top game developers in the UK.
As part of the UK Studio Hotlist, there will also be a listing of more than 500 British developers, the most comprehensive directory of the UK industry every published.
You can download the Develop 100 for your iPad on iTunes here. The essential guide also includes free versions of the 2012 editions of the book.
You can also download past editions of the Develop 100 through the links in the descriptions below. A link for the browser version UK Studio hotlist will be made available on Friday.
The first ever Develop 100 was published in 2005, and judged the top developers around the world based on revenues generated through UK retail. The figures were drawn from ChartTrack data, which represented sales from 90-to-95 per cent of all UK retail sales for games.
As it would go to dominate the list for years to come, EA Canada topped the list due to the runaway success that is FIFA, accruing £93.5m from UK sales alone.
The UK made a strong showing, taking up three places in the top ten thanks to Codemasters, Rockstar North and SCE London Studio, racking up over £110m in revenue through 2004 between them.
Once again topping the list was EA Canada, based on UK sales data. The FIFA developer brought in an extra £20 million in 2005 over the previous year as the football franchise continued to grow.
Before the onset of a new era of consoles, the UK’s influence in the top 100 began to wane slightly, as SCE London Studio and Traveller’s Tales took up ninth and tenth spot, brining in £40m between them. This was a fall of £70 million from the year prior.
Compiled at the dawn of the last generation of consoles, the Develop 100 ranked the top developers around the world based on revenues generated through UK retail.
Revenues were relatively small compared to the following years, with one exception being EA Canada. The FIFA developer’s revenues ran away to £118.97 million thanks to its flagship sporting series and Need for Speed. Nintendo took second place based on the success it had experienced with the Nintendo DS, while Konami Digital Entertainment and Maxis took third and fourth spot.
The UK performed well with two entries in the top ten. Traveller’s Tales took 5th spot, bringing in £26.30 million in revenue thanks to its LEGO Star Wars games, a series of IP that would go on to become a huge hit which still carries on today. Rockstar North followed not too far behind in 6th place, thanks to sales of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Vice City.
In 2008, the Develop 100 again ranked the world’s best studios on UK retail revenue drawn from GFK ChartTrack data.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Nintendo took the top spot that year, thanks to strong sales of its Brain Training series on the Nintendo DS, generating over £35 million in revenue. Other titles including New Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Galaxy and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess were also well received.
FIFA developer EA Canada took 2nd spot, while Ubisoft Montreal, Konami and Infinity Ward took 3rd 4th and 5th.
The top UK studio was Traveller’s Tales, which fell to tenth spot from the previous for Transformers: The Game and the LEGO Star Wars series. Despite actually generating more revenue at £27.06 million as the new generation of consoles took hold.
The 2009 edition of the Develop 100 caused a stir in the industry and sparked a media frenzy after changing the criteria in which studios are ranked. As well as taking into accounted GFK ChartTrack data, a number of other factors including the impact of mobile, social and online games were also taken into account, as well as referring to Metacritic scores. Other criteria also included industry standing, reputation and publisher relations.
Topping the list this year was World of Warcraft developer Blizzard Entertainment, with its flagship MMO attracting 11.5 million by the end of 2008 and generating $100 million a month from subscriptions alone.
Despite losing top spot, Nintendo still took second place having reached 96 million lifetime sales of the Nintendo DS. UK developer Rockstar North picked up third spot following the release of Grand Theft Auto IV. By the end of 2008, the GTA franchise had garnered $710 million in total revenues. EA Canada and Capcom rounded off the top five.
Marking a return to data based solely on UK retail revenue, Nintendo again topped the list generating £203.63 million. The hugely impressive takings doubled EA Canada’s earnings from 2009, which were £100 million, and were still significantly higher than 2nd placed Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward’s revenues, which stood at £125.58 million.
No UK studios made the top ten that year, but four of them made the top 20, including Traveller’s Tales, Codemasters, Slightly Mad Studios and Rockstar North. Other notable UK studios in the list included Sports Interactive, SCE London Studio, Rocksteady and the now closed EA Bright Light, which stood at 26th spot after generating £13.71m in revenue.
In 2011 the Develop 100 ranked studios based solely on their 2010 Metacritic scores. Over half of the world’s best studios ranked in the list were making games for the iPhone and iPad, showing a revolution in the mobile gaming space, which is now a major player in the games industry. 75 studios out of the 100 were also independent.
Despite a change in which data was gathered, Nintendo EAD returned to the top of the list, as titles such as Super Mario Galaxy 2 sweeped up critical acclaim, gathering an astounding average review score of 97 per cent.
A wealth of new entries into the Develop 100 also entered the list, with World of Goo developer 2D Boy, ZeptoLab, SCE Santa Momica, Media Vision, 1336 Game Design and The Coding Monkeys perhaps unlikely entries into the list, thanks to the quality of their titles and positive review scores.
UK developers struggled in a change of metric however. Rockstar Leeds took 9th spot after the release of GTA: Chinatown Wars on iOS, while Rockstar North took 28th place.
In total, only 13 UK studios featured in the top 100, with nine of those featured outside the top 40.
Last year’s first Develop 100 again marked a return to the use of UK retail sales data as the metric for compiling the list. On the back of the ever-bankable FIFA franchise, EA Canada once again topped the list, raking in another £113.27 million in revenue through 2011.
Traveller’s Tales was also once again the top UK studio in 9th spot, garnering an impressive £38.87m in revenue through UK retail, marking one of its best years ever in terms of sales.
The Develop 100 2012 edition also saw a new volume in the form of the Critics’ Choice. This ranked the top 100 games of all times as according to a panel of hundreds of games journalists from around the world.
Valve’s classic Half-Life 2 took the number one spot thanks to its strong story, characters, visuals and gameplay, all of which still stands up today despite advancements in technology. In fact, Valve still uses new iterations of the Source engine which powered the Half-Life sequel back in 2004.
The rest of the top ten, from second to tenth included BioShock, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Portal, Mass Effect 2, Uncharted 2, Half-Life, Final Fantasy VII, Super Mario World and Journey.
You can view the 2012 editions on your iPad, or through your browser here.
2013 and beyond
This year’s first edition of the Develop 100 will take a close look at the top UK studios, as based on their history, commercial success, reputation and potential. The must-have guide also includes a comprehensive list of over 500 British developers.
You will be able to find out who we've chosen for this 'games development who's who' by downloading the Develop digital magazine app and then adding the Develop 100 when it goes live.
Readers and industry professionals are also invited to our special launch event with Ukie, where Develop will present key findings from the book, and discuss what it takes to build a modern games studio in a special panel discussion with four of the studios on the list.
The event takes place 2.30pm to 3.30pm at Ukie's new offices in central London (UKIE, 21-27 Lambs Conduit Street, London, WC1N 3BD) and is open to all - but spaces are limited. Please email Sam.Collins@ukie.org.uk to confirm your attendance.