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Nov 20, 2007
Blizzard, Bizarre, Rockstar, Creative Assembly... These are some of gaming's biggest names in development, with some of the world's best games under their belts. But who owns these brainiac studios? And, more importantly, which publisher has the best collection of in-house devs? We thought we'd find out.
We've taken stock of the more notable studios (that is, those devs not condemned to creating endless mobile phone games) and the big-name publishers who pay their wages, issue the P45s and demand "just a few more QTE thingies, please, it'll enhance the target demographic".
To judge how valuable each publisher's stable of studios is, we've brought in Metacritic. And some boring maths. Long story short, we've got a score for the last three games released by each major first-party developer (or fewer if it's a new studio) worked out the average of these scores to get a studio's rating, then average-isised the studio scores to gives us a big ol' publisher score. Got it? Okay. We're off...
If you're a gamer, you'll have heard of Activision. Unless you haven't, in which case you're probably 12. The world's first independent developer, Activision produced games for Atari 2600, NES, Master System, Commodore 64 and Amiga, and pioneered the practice of giving credit to the brains behind the games and not just the company who published them.
Activision now possesses some of gaming's most recognisable franchises. Tony Hawk's, Call of Duty, Spider-Man - all these games come from its many studios, and just recently it acquired the rights to develop a new series of James Bond titles. *Insert clever Bond quote here*
PUBLISHER SCORE: 81%
Raven Software | Acquired 1997
Creator of Heretic and Hexxen, not to mention Soldier of Fortune, Raven was recently responsible for the unremarkable but solid Quake 4. It's also responsible for much of Activision's Marvel tie-in titles, like Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and X-Men Legends.
Studio score: 81%
Neversoft Entertainment | Acquired 1999
The studio that created Tony Hawk's Pro Skater has, perhaps, exhausted its most popular series (Proving Ground is far from being a truly great Tony Hawk's sequel) but Neversoft is now responsible for another huge franchise, with Guitar Hero III its first foray into rhythm-action.
Studio score: 79%
Treyarch Corporation | Acquired 2001
Best known for its Spider-Man games, Treyarch is now working on Activision's new James Bond series. Which, with the studio's hits including Call of Duty 3 and Spidey's open-world adventures, provides hope that Treyarch will do 007 justice.
Studio score: 72%
Infinity Ward | Acquired 2003
Founded by devs who worked on Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, Infinity Ward has eclipsed EA's warathon with its own superior war-based series, Call of Duty. And, with COD4: Modern Warfare successfully reinventing the franchise, Infinity Ward is a studio bursting with potential.
Studio score: 91%
Bizarre Creations | Acquired 2007
This studio only joined the Activision stable in September, when it left Microsoft's Game Studios. Microsoft owns the rights to its biggest franchise - Project Gotham Racing - and The Club will be published by Sega, so Bizarre will have to create something fresh for its new owner.
Studio score: 80%