eGamer Awards 2012: Studio Of The Year
While all of our attention is most of the time rightfully centered on the games, we do feel obliged to commend the developers and pay our thanks to them for helping to give us great games and an awesome gaming year. Join us as we take a look at some of the year’s most impressive studios, and decide which one deserves the most appreciation for all they’ve done in 2012 for gaming.
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This award is very difficult to hand out. Many developers often bring out more than one game each year, maybe multiple amazing ones or a few not-so-great ones, maybe all awesome, maybe none – so you can see why we can’t really judge this award on quantity. Naturally, it’s quality we’re looking for, but that’s not the sole contributor, since, as you know, there are also many quality games out there that continue to be released with each passing month. So how exactly do we hand out this award? Well, we take a look at the games that come out and think long and hard at what they accomplished and what the developers accomplished with them. The developers that take risks and are rewarded, go out of their way to bring something we gamers want, those who try their best to please us, working hard all the way, and never turning their backs on us – all of these are contributors to receiving this award. It’s a vast combination of dedication, games, quality, doing things the people want to see, doing something completely new and ultimately creating something that is worth every cent and second we spend on it. The kind of games where we can clearly see the developers love and passion shine through, and makes us appreciative of them. This plays a massive part in our selections, because there are many developers who make incredible games, but we have a special appreciation for various achievements.
ArenaNet really blew us away this year with their work on Guild Wars 2, arguably the only MMO we can comfortably say is for everyone. More than that is the fact that it was a game-changer, altering the face of the MMORPG as we know it, and finally delivering a worthy contender to the mighty World of Warcraft. And when you consider the fact that Guild Wars 2 was simply a once-off charge with no further subscription-fees, it really became a bit too good to be true. ArenaNet also constantly added to the online gaming experience of Guild Wars 2 without charging players an extra cent for any of it. These developers proved that not only do they want to take WoW head on, but they also want to craft their own kind of MMORPG, and they’re in it to make the best game first and foremost.
Valve are ever ready to show that gaming industry what an awesome studio they are, and let’s just go through a few highlights of theirs to explain why they’re nominated. Of course, there’s Dota 2 firstly, which has been free since the beginning and continues to promote its community with its impressive cosmetic shop that even players who don’t buy anything can get in on by simply playing the game, which just speaks volumes of how much Valve considers the consumer. Then there was Counter Strike: Global Offensive, which shipped off at an incredibly low price, making it effectively a steal, allowing as many people as possible to get access to it. And of course Valve’s support for its games is phenomenal, and both games continue to be updated and improved for fans regularly.
Valve also pushed forward with the highly admirable Steam Greenlight, which is a great way for smaller and independent developers to get their games onto Steam, plus it involves the gaming community and lets them vote for and decide which games they’d like to appear on the Steam store. It’s a great initiative from Valve to help out smaller developers as well as promote a stronger gamer community. Then there was also Big Picture, which was a great upgrade to Steam to make it more appealing and comfortable for those who gave on a TV and with a controller, increasing its accessibility Since we can’t list everything that Valve has done, we have stuck to our highlights, but really, this should be enough to earn Valve its place here. About that Half-Life 3 announcement though…
Gearbox Software definitely made it into our good graces this year, and are worthy of a nomination because after having failed rather miserably with Duke Nukem Forever, the studio was eager to redeem itself with Borderlands 2. Having failed with the humour and writing in Duke Nukem Forever, the studio brought on actual gaming writers, such as Anthony Burch, and worked to effectively create a game by gamers, for gamers. The studio went out of its way to make Borderlands 2 completely blow away the original game, and they really did create one of the year’s best sequels. Everything the original game lacked, Borderlands 2 picked up, such as heightened variety, an awesome story, more iconic characters and more meaningful content. The studio also released compatibility packs and constant patches in order to keep the game up to date and as polished as possible, and not to mention all the added DLC that brings more great content to the game. This really set Borderlands 2 apart.
Borderlands 2 is Gearbox Software’s pride and joy, and it really shows in almost every aspect of the game. This was one of the best games of this entire year, and that was made possible because of the heart and effort that went into it. That’s exactly what we want to see from developers. And of course, who could forget the story of Michael and Gearbox’s tribute to it? In a nutshell, young gamer Michael John Mamaril passed away due to cancer at the age of twenty-two, and his friend Carlo thought it would be a good idea, as both were massive Borderlands fans, to send Gearbox Software an email requesting for a short eulogy to be read by the game’s mascot, Claptrap. Not only did Gearbox comply, but they also promised to insert Michael into the game as an NPC to honour his memory. It was a heartfelt act of fan appreciation, and Gearbox gets our respect and admiration for that.
Telltale Games could have earned their nomination just by creating one of the year’s best games, The Walking Dead, but really they did more than that. The studio effectively revitalized the adventure game genre, which many would argue has been in decline since the mid-1990s. Telltale has also been praised for taking their previous experience in the genre and signficantly expanded on it as well as bringing in a strong focus on writing, storytelling and acting that really blew away the competition this year and asked some challenging questions of the entire industry, raising the bar for storytelling in video games. As far as we’re considered, The Walking Dead truly packed one of the greatest stories ever presented in a video game, and many gamers who played this title probably don’t even know how much hard work and effort that the developers put into crafting the story and decisions throughout the five episodes. Telltale constantly monitored and studied the statistics surrounding what the majority and minority of players did in the game, and effectively used this to plan ahead and devise ways to surprise and shock the player later on. Their incredible success really is a testament to their effort.
We really wish we could say that every nominated studio could win, but there of course has got to be one that stands out, and after much consideration, we decided that our winner just gave us something special that absolutely needed to be appreciated, respected and admired above all else.
If there is one thing that made Valve outstanding this year, it was that the studio showed that publishers don’t only need to do games, but rather help the community as well. Dota 2 was free, sure, but it promoted its community and continues to try and be accessible to as many players as possible. Counter Strike: Global Offensive was made cheap for this very same purpose as well, and of course we mentioned Valve’s incredible support already. But what Valve did above and beyond other studios, was further grow the industry. Steam Greenlight is an incredible initiative, and really offers a lot to up and coming developers, as well as grows a relationship between community and developers, getting both involved in the process. Valve didn’t just make their own games free or cheap, but also created a way for others to make money as well off their platform. Valve didn’t just focus on games, but on the industry and how it could grow it. This makes Valve our choice for the studio of the year for 2012.