games / Columns

The Top 8 Video Game Companies

July 27, 2021 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Nintendo Sega Console Wars

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! This week, I’m here to talk about what I think are the overall best game companies. Not necessarily the companies I think put out the most games that interest me, this is slightly more of an objective list. For this list, a game company has to put out at least 3 new games per calendar year, so like Supergiant Games is an incredible studio, they put out a game about every three years or so. Also, while some companies have been merged or bought out, I’m not listing them as part of the parent company yet, if they haven’t made a game for them. Let’s begin:

#8: Microsoft

Around the Xbox 360 era, Microsoft was fairly dominant when it came to games and game franchises. They dramatically spooled up Halo and Forza bringing them to another level while also getting franchises like Gears of War, Viva Pinata, Dance Central, etc. to be on the system. Since the Xbox One generation though, they’ve struggled. Forza is still great, but the last few Halo and Gears games have underperformed, at least compared to earlier iterations. Five years from now, this could all change, especially given the influx of new companies Microsoft has bought, but at the moment, they are pretty low on this list.

#7: EA

EA is on here in a low spot, simply because they don’t actually make a lot of games anymore. Compared to the PS1 or even PS2 era, (not to mention earlier generations), EA were cranking out games left and right, most of them good. Now? They tend to put out the same sports games year after year with a slightly new coat of paint, a FPS shooter, and maybe one or two independent or “smaller” games. For 2020, they put out 3 Remastered games, 3 Sims 4 expansions, 4 sports franchise games (FIFA, Madden, etc.) and only two “new property” games, Rocket Arena and Star Wars: Squadrons. They’ve taken the tact that quality over quantity, but they used to have better volumes for each in the past.

#6: Square Enix

This ranking will probably annoy people but it’s similar almost to my EA placement. Simply put: Square does (generally) make good to great games. It just doesn’t seem to make a ton of them anymore. They are now more concerned with rehashing old games then making new properties or games. It’s a shame because, as Final Fantasy 7 Remake shows, when they are on the ball, they cannot be stopped. Like, that is a good landmark game for the PS4/PS5 to show their best. Or look at how they’ve conquered the MMO space, which is some fine work. But them doing the tired “remasters” of old Final Fantasy games, or putting The Last Remnant out on the Switch? Please, we’re all good.

#5: Sony

It’s kind of funny that Sony is basically the inverse of Microsoft at this point. Their established franchise games are fairly strong and they’ve been able to introduce new IP games well. However, they can’t manage to make a driving game to save their lives. On the whole, most of Sony’s games have been overall good. I might’ve been a little bored by Ghost of Tsushima or annoyed with Days Gone but there was nothing fundamentally broken about them, unlike say, Crackdown 3. Their track record might not be the best but generally Sony-made games are good.

#4: Sega

Here’s kind of the quiet caveat with Sega, I don’t really mean Sega as a developer on this list. When I put Sega on this list, I’m putting them on because they own and put up the money for their subsidiaries to make great games. Atlus, Ryu Ga Gotoku, Amplitude, Relic, etc. These are the companies that keep Sega afloat in my mind, it’s certainly not Sonic Team or M2. But at least Sega has their owned companies still making, generally, good games that keep people excited. And hell, some of their own franchises, like Persona or Yakuza have exploded in popularity over the past few years.

#3: Capcom

While you can argue the merits of any Capcom game, notably the never-ending disaster known as “Street Fighter V”, most of their stuff is fairly rock-solid. Their “dud” games like Resident Evil 6 or Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite are few and far between. Plus, they generally know now not to make too many screw ups. They just stick with Resident Evil and Monster Hunter, Ace Attorney and Devil May Cry. Although hearing them even talk about Street Fighter 6 makes me blood chill. They may crank out a lot of iterative sequels but at least the base game is good, so it is more bearable.

#2: Ubisoft

Ubisoft gets a lot of, deserved, criticism because most of their AAA games are the same. It got to the point where they put map-revealing towers in the first Crew game, which…did not need them. Aside from this “XDefiant” thing, which looks like a goddamn mess, Ubisoft typically sticks with their games way, WAY longer than most companies, supporting them with new maps or seasons of cosmetic stuff. Plus, while they do have iterative sequels, namely Assassin’s Creed, the amount of stuff they’ve introduced and then yanked out, and that (mostly) every Assassin’s Creed game is a new character, and entirely new game world, is actually pretty impressive when you think about it.

#1: Nintendo

Really, could it be any other company besides the Big N? There are some games that aren’t top-tier quality, like Mario Sunshine or Kid Icarus game on the 3DS, but really, none of their “core” games is bad. Even ones I don’t like, like Twilight Princess, are well-made, just it had fundamental design problems. There’s a reason their games don’t really depreciate in value because most of them still have a timeless quality about them, so that any person at any age can get into them. I mean, the worst Nintendo games people seem to agree on are either Wii Music or Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival and considering the long history of Nintendo, that’s an incredible track record.

For comments, list what you think is the best game company and why.

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