The relatively young games industry has seen a number of changes since its inception, from the 1983 industry crash to the implosion of much-loved development studios. Shifts from West to East and back again have transformed the ways and locations that games have been developed in; here we have taken a look at the top ten places to develop games in the world today.
10. Brighton, England
The famous seaside resort town nestled on the South coast of England is synonymous with partying, homosexuality and ...digital media companies. This gaming development haven is home to a number of games industry companies, from the localization outsourcing giant Babel Media to full-throttle development studios. Disney’s accomplished racing studio Black Rock Studios, Sony’s quizzical leaders Relentless, the charitable Zoe Mode and the Korean MMO behemoth NCSoft all perform their duties in this small city, as do countless other game-related companies; all present at the annual Develop conference held on the seafront.
A slightly labored geographical grouping, but a necessary one to band together Dundee and Edinburgh into one location, Eastern Scotland is a hotbed of game design. The world renowned Rockstar North is located in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh and nearby Dundee is full of aspiring and established studios. The most famous Dundee-based companies are probably Ruffian games, developer of the imminent Crackdown 2 and Realtime Worlds, whose APB is also due to hit the unloved PC shelves this year.
8. Paris, France
The romantic French capital is not normally associated with pedigree game development, yet it does have an illustrious history of games-related business. The former publishing giant Vivendi once called Paris its home, and the metropolis also now contains the highly acclaimed Heavy Rain developers Quantic Dream and the global developer/publisher powerhouse that is Ubisoft.
7. Vancouver & Surrounding Areas, Canada
With over 50 games companies inhabiting its streets, Vancouver is one of the primary factors in the rapid ascent of the Canadian gaming industry. Dead Rising 2 creators Blue Castle and Company of Heroes producers Relic Online are just two of the dozens of big-name studios that are based in British Columbia, with massive companies like Electronic Arts, Nintendo and Rockstar all maintaining a presence in the area too.
This infamous gaming state has long been a hotspot for the world’s greatest game-creating minds, with even the ill-fated but ambitious superstudio Ion Storm choosing Texas to conduct its resource-sapping work. High profile catastrophes like Ion Storm, Ensemble and 3D Realms have made a dent in Texas’s reputation, but there are many companies that continue to cement the Southern state’s prestige, including successful and innovative studios like id Software, Gearbox, Terminal Reality and Junction Point.
With close to 100 companies in the games industry currently settled in the French-speaking city, Montreal is quickly regaining its 1960s status (following the Olympics, World Expo and the new Montreal airport) as a world-leader in technology and innovation. EA Montreal has recently become the largest singe-site development house, which is just one of dozens like it in the area. Ubisoft, Eidos, Warner Bros. Interactive, Bioware and THQ are among the largest developers to select Montreal for its base (or satellite) of operations.
4. Guildford, England
This small and rural Surrey town has somehow existed as a global game development center for years. Perhaps the sleepy but wealthy London commuter-belt town is appealing to those that have settled within the industry; Guildford hosts the famous Molyneux-directed Lionhead studios, GOTY-developer (in LittleBigPlanet) Media Molecule, two world-famous racing game makers Codemasters and Criterion as well as the Total War series creators, The Creative Assembly (though they are based in Horsham, not actually in Guildford).
3. Washington, USA
There is pride and shame in having Microsoft reside in your state, though few would argue that Microsoft’s effect upon the games industry has been largely positive. Blowing open the global hardware sector with the Xbox console, Microsoft are now held in high regard and are possibly the foremost developer in the industry. Washington can also pride itself on hosting the universally-loved Valve, the controversial deal-making Bungie, Halo IP-owning 343 studios, Forza creators Turn 10 and Peggle masterminds Popcap.
2. California, USA
It’s mind-boggling just how many studios call California their home, so it’s probably easier just to list the most notorious so that it’s clear just how white-hot this state has become for game development. Here you will findResistance makers Insomiac Games, World of Warcraft billionaires Blizzard Entertainment, Call of Duty creators Infinity Ward (or at least what’s left of them), Sims record-breakers Maxis, Tomb Raider revitalizers Crystal Dynamics, Dead Space horror merchants Visceral Games, Brutal Legend rockers Double Fine, Fallout: New Vegas developers Obsidian Entertainment, Uncharted adventurers Naughty Dog, multiple IP-handling veterans Treyarch, Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero mercantiles Neversoft and God of War developers Sony Santa Monica.
Japan’s capital city and technological superpower has long been the envy of the West, with Sega, Sony and Nintendo having a monopoly on the industry for over 15 years before America’s finest took the plunge to replace the chasm left by Sega. Not only do the world’s largest first party studios reside here, but so too does Final Fantasy maker Square Enix, Tecmo, Namco Bandai and Team Ico to name but a few. Tokyo is truly the grandfather of gaming development, though whether its innovation and clarity of its superiority over other locations still remains in force as much as it once did, is certainly in doubt.