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 PG.BIZ FEATURE

The top 50 iPhone developers of 2009: 30 to 21

From Rough Cookie to Secret Exit
Product: PG.Biz Top 50 Developers | Publisher: Steel Media
 
PG.Biz Top 50 Developers PG.Biz, thumbnail 1
In the third part of our round up of the top iPhone developers of 2009, we come across many studios that have taken experience gained making games for other platforms, and applied that professionalism to the iPhone sector.

As explained in the first parts of the series, this list is constructed by comparing sales performance, critical acclaim of releases, innovation in terms of business approach, and the number and range of titles each studios released during 2009.

You can read about the companies listed from 50 to 41 here, 40 to 31 here, 20 to 11 here, and 10 to 1 here.

30. Rough Cookie

A collaboration between two Dutch companies - Khaeon and Elements Interactive - Rough Cookie is one of the few developers to have released each of its iPhone games (three to date) via a different publisher. Its 2008 debut Dougie Moo's Aqua Antics came out with Chillingo, while its most recent title WaterWays was released by Taito. Its major claim to fame however is Star Defense, published by ngmoco. Arguably the best in the crowded tower defence genre thanks to its 3D planetary theme and good social support, it’s been supported by the free Star Defense Prelude, although a launch price point of $5.99 limited sales.

29. SGN

More of a publisher than a developer - we've already noted F.A.S.T. and Skies of Glory were developed by Revo Solutions - nevertheless SGN (Social Gaming Network) has an important place in the iPhone ecosystem. For one thing its apps have been downloaded more than 14 million times. And although the vast majority of these were free, it is pushing the freemium business model with games like Agency Wars and Skies of Glory, as well as more casual cross-platform social games such as i(fluff)Friends.

28. Mobigame

The most unlucky iPhone developer of 2009 had to be French studio Mobigame, which despite making a brilliant puzzle game in the cuboid shape of Edge, found itself caught up in a ridiculous copyright spat. This resulted in the game being regularly removed and resubmitted to the App Store under a variety of names due to complaints from Tim Langdell of EDGE Games. It is currently available as Edgy. Mobigame's second release of the year, Cross Fingers - a sliding puzzler - was much less controversial but equally compelling.

27. Two Tribes

With a strong history in development for Nintendo portables and mobile, iPhone was the obvious next step for Dutch developer Two Tribes. It released two games in 2009, both published by Chillingo. The first was a version of its Toki Tori puzzle platformer, which reviewed very well as well as hitting the #9 spot on the US chart. It finished the year releasing the movie tie-in Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs. Again it reviewed well and sold in Europe going top 10 in eight countries, although US downloads proved harder to come by.

26. RedLynx

With platform-defining mobile games such as Pathway to Glory and Reset Generation under its belt, the reputation of Finnish outfit RedLynx preceeded its arrival on iPhone. Debut Monster Trucks Nitro was something of a slow burn however, reaching its chart peak towards the end of the year despite being released in March. RedLynx's other game was the marvellous DrawRace, which combined topdown racing with line drawing gameplay. A #1 game in the UK, its US peak of #17 didn't fulfill its full potential.

25. Taito


Best known as being the creator of Space Invaders, it was no surprise that of the six games Taito released for iPhone during 2009 Space Invaders was the most popular. The innovation and flair that Space Invaders Infinity Gene demonstrated however went far beyond what was expected, with the game gaining plaudits as one of the best of the year. It also sold well; notably in Japan where it was #1. Other notable Taito releases included Puzzle Bobble and Cooking Mama, which went top 20 in the US despite its $6.99 price tag.

24. Meridian

We don't know much about Meridian Digital Entertainment. Even its location is a bit of a mystery; Hong Kong, we think. What we do know however is that as well as a love of game titles beginning with A - all six iPhone games it released in 2009 started with the letter - it demonstrates a high quality of development, over various genres, which range from action to time management. Its biggest game was Alive 4-ever, a topdown zombie survival shooter with multiplayer mode, which reviewed highly and got to #2 in the US and UK charts at its launch 99c price.

23. 2XL Games

Formed by members of off-road racing specialist Rainbow Studios, 2XL Games has brought the professionalism of its console work onto the App Store, making its mark as one of the best racing game developers for iPhone. Despite launching at $7.99, its debut 2XL Supercross impressed critics and sold remarkably well, a performance matched by follow-up 2XL ATV Offroad, which reached #5 in the US chart, albeit on the back of a Christmas price cut. 2XL ended the year releasing 2XL Fleet Defense, a frantic time management game.

22. True Axis

This Australian developer exploded on the iPhone in November with Jet Car Stunts. A complete surprise to most and one of the best reviewed games of year, it continues to impress critics with its playability, which is spread across platform and racing levels. Helping True Axis make such a refined game is its True Axis Physics middleware, while its next project looks to have great potential as it's the iPhone version of PC shooter Space Tripper.

21. Secret Exit


This Finnish studio, formed by veterans of the Fathammer mobile technology studio, kicked off 2009 with Zen Bound, an experience which no one could agree whether should be defined as a game or not. There was little disagreement about its magical qualities however, as it was the one of the best reviewed titles of the year. Indeed, no other release has yet come close to its gentle playfulness and art. Sales where harder to come by however. In complete contrast, Secret Exit ended the year with Stair Dismount, a falling-down-the-stairs simulator.



Read on for the top 20 iPhone developers or check out the full PG.Biz 2009 iPhone developers list.
 

Reviewer photo
Jon Jordan 6 January 2010
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