Game Platform Dream Team
If I could pick the best talents from different companies and bring them together into one gaming platform (and possibly general computing platform) dream team, this is what it would be:
System Software and Network Services: Google
Google Docs, gmail, search, and Android: Google is on a hot streak. They design the best software that tackles the toughest usability issues. They are also the best at providing easy, open access to all your data, and handling thorny upgrade, maintenance, and data migration issues.
If any company could design the best solutions to DRM and other video game issues, it’s Google.
Hardware and UI Design: Apple
For developing elegant, attractive, and even “cool” hardware and for developing hyper-intuitive interfaces that balance functionality and accessibility, Apple leads the industry.
Runner Up: HTC
HTC makes some very elegant hardware and UI software as well.
Media Management and PR: Microsoft
Microsoft does’t grow the best game development teams, they don’t have the best selection of games, they don’t have the best hardware build quality, they restrict customers to buying proprietary overpriced add-ons, and they restrict developers to using all-Microsoft development development tools (like Apple). But they do own the hearts and minds of most of the media and many slices of the mainstream public.
They simply do the best job at cultivating press and public attention, sympathy, and excitement. Sorry if this sounds like a backhanded compliment, but it’s true.
Game Studio Management: Sony
I can get mindless puzzle games on cell phones and browser-based Flash, and I can get novice gamer stuff on Nintendo devices, but for games that cater to the serious video game enthusiasts, PlayStation leads the pack. (I know that’s a subjective statement, several great “enthusiast” type games that I love are on the PC and even others on Wii and other devices, but still, I’d say PlayStation is far and above the rest)
And why? It’s not the hardware or the underlying technology or the brand, it has been Sony’s ability to attract, retain, motivate, and cultivate the industry’s top game development talent.
Most of the other big publishing houses have developed reputations for buying successful studios with promising futures and running them into the ground. Sony has a track record of actually improving the studios they manage and coaxing their best and most innovative work.
Sony’s record hasn’t been perfect. A few studios have bombed under Sony’s watch and Sony has been behind a few flop games, but overall, Sony shines in this area.