When the Develop 100 launched several years ago, it was an eye opener – the top hundred game studios, ranked by the revenue generated by the games they made. It was serious data, and it presented a valuable snapshot of the digital games industry.
Today, the new Develop 100 landed on my desk – this year, ranked by Metacritic scores. Now last year, Develop 100 lacked the actual commercial figures, and was based on some behind-the-scenes shenanigans that wasn’t fully explicated. That was a disappointment. This year, however, they have truly jumped the shark with a top 100 list that is almost entirely meaningless. The fact that Revolution – a studio I respect, but which by any commercial measure is having a dismal few years – ranks at #47 just shows how pointless this new league table has become.
The problem is digital sales: the data doesn’t exist, and without it, trying to examine the industry commercially is extremely challenging. But substituting review scores for financial data isn’t an answer. It’s tantamount to giving up on the goal altogether. The new Develop 100 isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on – a vacuous mirage of the games industry based on the blinkered perspective of reviewers, rather than the cold, hard facts on the ground. I really don’t know why anyone is supposed to care about this list.
Companies live or die on their ability to keep staff employed. This is based on the money they make, not the review scores they garner. If this pathetic travesty is the best Develop 100 can manage, they might as well throw in the towel.