Ultimately, games are art, and the people who make them are artists. The enjoyment that we derive from the games, the feelings that games evoke and elicit, can all ultimately come down to the artists behind them, and their excellent, exceptional work, which masters games as a medium to deliver the best ones of the year. In this category, we recognize the best developers of 2017. And the nominees are:
Who would have thought that the developers of Killzone- great games from a technical perspective, but severely bland and lacking from a game design perspective- would end up delivering one of the most imaginative, powerful open world experiences of all time? There is a world of difference between Killzone and Horizon- with Horizon, Guerrilla Games have finally revealed themselves to be the masters of their craft thatchy have always been, and we can only look forward to what they do next from here on out.
What a year Nintendo has had. Nintendo is often widely considered to be the greatest developer in the industry, and this year, they showed us just why that is. From Splatoon, Mario Kart, and ARMS to the masterful Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo fired on all cylinders to deliver some of the very best games of the year in 2017. What other company can boast of releasing multiple Game of the Year contenders in a single year? Most struggle to put out just one!
Atlus march to the beat of their own drum, but if the end product is going to be as exceptionally fantastic as Persona 5 turned out to be, I don’t think anyone will mind. Featuring a deft blend of storytelling with compelling and addictive game mechanics, and wrapped up in an overwhelmingly attractive and stylish package, Atlus have revealed themselves to be the masters of the RPG genre- and now, all eyes are on them.
How often do you hear of an early access game making any waves? And yet, that is what ended up happening this year with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. No part of the game is truly original- instead, PUBG’s strength lies in the potent mix of all these familiar elements that it brews, to create something exciting, thrilling, wholly new, and infinitely replayable. And this is when the game is pre-release! We can only marvel at what it might end up becoming once it officially leaves Early Access.
MachineGames prove themselves to be surprisingly capable of delivering a modern game with great gameplay and a powerful story in 2014 with Wolfenstein: The New Order. This year, they repeated the act, as The New Colossus ups the ante on just about everything that the original game did. There are very few truly talented studios making single player shooters anymore- and MachineGames is now among that hallowed company.
After years of waiting, Cuphead finally released, and it was worth the anticipation. Studio MDHR took the original concept of having an attractive 2D boss rush game, and expanded it to a full fledged 2D action platformer- while, miraculously, maintaining the same standard of quality throughout the entire game. The fact that this studio is so much smaller than all the other ones on this list makes their work even more impressive, and laudable.
Larian did what studios like Bioware and Bethesda will not, and delivered a pure, full fledged, no holds car turn based classic CRPG with Divinity: Original Sin 2. In and of itself, that’s notable- but in the process, Larian also delivered on of the all time greats of the genre, firmly establishing themselves in the upper echelons of the genre’s pantheon.
That Platinum is exceptionally talented should come as no surprise to anyone- but this year, they delivered their most successful product ever with NieR Automata. Showing a mastery over multiple different (equally frenetic) gameplay styles as well as storytelling, WHILE not losing their traditional Platinum flair, PlatinumGames truly established themselves as all time greats with this game.
On the other hand, Team Ninja was widely thought to be a washed up shell of its former shell for the last few years now. This year, they finally proved us wrong with Nioh, which takes the popular Souls template, and adds a typically Team Ninja spin to it, with a deeper and more nuanced battle system than any that even From has been able to cook up. To take a genre from its creators and elevate it so much speaks highly of Team Ninja- what a comeback story this was.
Ubisoft had a bumper year this year- from For Honor to Assassin’s Creed Origins to even Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, they were releasing multiple games across a variety of genres, and all of them were top notch. Most of all, it was their constant receptiveness to community feedback, and their willingness to listen to the player, that made them stand out in a year when too many publishers and developers stood hell bent on antagonizing their communities.
Really, this should not come as a shock to any one. Every other developer on this list ended up delivering one great, standout game- Nintendo delivered five, including two that are among the highest rated games of all time. In 2017, Nintendo established why they are considered the top dog in game development- and we could only gape in awe as they continued to put out one masterpiece after another. Now, onwards to 2018, to seeing what Nintendo may have in store for us then.
Note: GamingBolt’s Game of the Year categories, nominations and awards are selected via an internal nomination, voting and debate process. You can check the rest of categories and the respective winners here.