Games would not be possible without the people behind them. The developers put their heart and soul into making the experiences we love. Some developers are single person affairs, while others are thousands of people across the world. It is a testament to the flexibility of the medium that developers large and small can make experiences that make us feel and love and enjoy. It has been a delight going on such diverse journeys with these developers this year. With all that said, these are our winners for Golden Lance for Developer of the Year.
Winner: Obsidian Entertainment
Since Microsoft acquired the renowned RPG maker in 2018, Obsidian Entertainment has quickly established itself as one of Xbox’s premier game studios. With the outstanding Outer Worlds RPG already under its belt on Xbox platforms, 2022 saw a remarkable shift for the studio. Grounded launched its full release in September and showcased a sandbox survival game that surprised many reviewers positively. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids inspired movie feels, combined with addicting cooperative gameplay, and a polished narrative displayed a newfound versatility by a smaller in-house team.
Obsidian then followed up in 2022 with Pentiment, a very unique indie project led by games industry legend Josh Sawyer. A narrative adventure based on a rarely depicted 16th Century time period showcased a murder mystery within an era of great religious and political change. The attention to historical detail, charming art style, and RPG skill check system were once again well-received by critics alike. Obsidian continues to shine as not only one of Xbox’s most productive game studios but now as a pillar of quality regardless of what genre they set their mind to. There is no doubt that Obsidian is our Developer of the Year.
Runner Up: Epic Games
Epic is undoubtedly the king when it comes to live-service games. Not only is Fortnite a cultural phenomenon, but it is well supported and regularly updated game thanks to Epic. This year, Fortnite received a graphical overhaul with Epic’s own Unreal Engine 5.1 and the visual upgrade is immense. Not only that, but Epic is the golden standard when it comes to a fair and rewarding battle pass system. No other game comes close with its unique offerings and rewarding and addictive progression system.
Runner Up: FromSoftware
That Elden Ring has received so much mainstream praise and attention will come as no real shock to developer FromSoftware’s long standing army of fans. Each of its previous titles has grown in size and scope. From 2009’s Demon’s Souls through to 2019’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Elden Ring is the culmination of FromSoftware’s hard work over the past 15 years. It represents a developer at the very top of its game. With more to come on the horizon, including a new Armored Core title and very likely some Elden Ring DLC, FromSoftware continues to represent the very finest of all developers out there at the moment. Fans will be watching them very closely next year.