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The PocketGamer.biz top 50 developers of 2013: 50 to 41

From Spacetime to Mag Interactive

The PocketGamer.biz top 50 developers of 2013: 50 to 41
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Considering the tens of thousands of publishers and developers who are daily making new mobile games and supporting live titles, the task of picking out the relatively small number of 50 as being 'top' may seem to be a Sisyphean exercise.

Yet, that process provides a wealth of useful information, while the rigor of directly comparing companies - one against another - forces us to think about what we mean by the term 'top developers'.

In terms of our process at PocketGamer.biz, we used metrics such as creativity, critical acclaim, sales performance, innovation especially in terms of business model, and that certain je ne sais quoi that only the best studios exude.

The full list - produced in conjunction with leading app store analytics company App Annie and the largest Chinese mobile game development platform CocoaChina - will be revealed daily through our Top 50 Developer of 2013 section.

50. Spacetime Studios
Down 32 from 2012's listing

While other MMOG developers struggle to make headway on mobile devices, Spacetime Studios merely builds on its now three year history.

Its 2011 debut Pocket Legends has been joined by horror (Dark Legends), fantasy (Arcane Legends) and sci-fi-themed (Star Legends) siblings, all of which are serviced using the company's proprietary Spacetime engine, enabling cross-play across mobile, PC and browsers.

It's this flexibility that's boosted downloads to over 10 million and average player sessions to 25 hours per month. And, in turn, this has seen the 40-strong company rewarded with Top Developer status on Google Play.

49. Animoca
New entry

Despite being based in Hong Kong, Animoca is clear about its business model; it's focused on launching games and entertainment apps into western markets for Android devices. Gaining its first VC round from big hitters such as Intel Capital, IDG and Accel, its 300-odd releases have racked up more than 115 million downloads, so it's certainly fulfilling the brief.

Top titles include the Pretty Pet series of games and its Star Girl fashion game, while it's recently closed a deal to make games with the Mr Bean and Ultraman brands, cultural characters for UK and Japanese audiences respectively.

48. PlayFirst
Down 2

Once PlayFirst was a PC casual games company, but post-12 November 2012, it became a family-focused pure mobile player with over 10 million daily active users, mainly of its massively successful Dash games.

In that context, as well as ditching PC games, 2012 was significant for the company as it finally moved onto Android, at least into Amazon's ecosystem, with Diner Dash released in October, followed by Cooking Dash in December.

PlayFirst now plans to release a new title for Amazon devices every month, with Google Play activity also pencilled in at some point in 2013.

47. Chair Entertainment
Down 39

While the Infinity Blade games remain some of the best examples of console-quality gaming applied to touchscreen devices, the past months have been an underwhelming time for Epic-owned Chair Entertainment.

It's continued to update its iOS-only titles - and Infinity Blade II still sits in the US top grossing top 100 - but the company's only new title in 2012 was the comic US election-themed Vote! Similarly odd was the news that Epic had parted company with the retrospectively well-named Impossible Studios, postponing (perhaps forever) the release of Infinity Blade: Dungeons in the process.

46. Red Robot Labs
Down 8

Location-based persistent world mobile publisher Red Robot Labs had a busy year. It raised $5 million for Asian expansion and opened up its R2 platform for selected mobile developers with the first release being the Android version of ShortRound's Global Outbreak topdown shooter.

In the meantime, its signature title Life is Crime continues to rack up the downloads - 4 million to-date - with the live team running regular events based on gang activity to grow the community. It also recently launched Life is Magic on iOS and Android, which uses the company's proprietary map data to rendering the earth in a fantasy setting.

45. WeMade
New entry

Best known as the creator of online PC games such as the Legend of Mir series, WeMade is now rapidly expanding its mobile operations, under the label weme. Indeed, 40 percent of the revenue it generated in Korea during Q4 came from mobile games, around $9 million.

The reason is two-fold. Titles such as Viking Island, Candy Pang and WindRunner are proving popular. Released in January, the latter already has 4.2 million DAUs. And more generally, the Korean market is booming thanks to KakaoTalk. Eight of WeMade's games integrate the messaging service. Indeed, WeMade actually owns 3.8 percent of Kakao.

44. NimbleBit
Down 38

Game-making twins Ian and David Marsh (aka NimbleBit) are perhaps the closest thing the industry has to those successful film-making auteurs. Maybe you could think of them as our equivalent of the Coens or Polish brothers? And they certainly demonstrated their pixel-arty credentials again with Pocket Planes, which was released on iOS in June, and via Mobage on Android.

Of course, as the top of the top grossing charts have become more aggressive territory, it wasn't a particularly financially lucrative game, but with new title Nimble Quest inbound, their vision - and fanbase - remains strong as ever.

43. TinyCo
Down 11

Like many of the first generation of social mobile companies, TinyCo has had to demonstrates nimble feet to keep relevant. Its portfolio of Tiny-label casual games continues to perform, particularly on Android where the company has Top Developer status on Google Play. It's also been loud in its praise of monetisation levels on the Amazon ecosystem.

And thanks to its $5 million TinyFund to source third-party content, it's now looking to new genres. Its first midcore title is card-battler SpellStorm, while Super Slots is a casino game, and Guess! a nod towards the With Friends market.

42. Miniclip
No change

As part of its transformation from popular Flash games portal to cross-platform gaming company, Miniclip continued to build out its mobile presence in 2012. Key developments during the year included the announcement of over 100 million lifetime downloads on iOS and Android, something backed by the company's X-Port Genie engine, which enables it to also develop for Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10.

As for games, Miniclip successfully published Ndemic's Plague Inc. on Android, while rolling out its popular multiplayer Flash game 8 Ball Pool on iOS and Android. This runs seamlessly across mobile and web platforms, underlining its ultimate goal.

41. Mag Interactive
New entry

Ruzzle wasn't the first project from Swedish start up Mag Interactive. It's been doing work-for-hire projects since 2009. Instead, it labels the word game, that has over 30 million players and has generated 3 billion rounds since its April 2012 release, the 'first launch from its own product development'.

Of course, the majority of downloads have been of the free version, but the introduction of a single $2.99 IAP in January saw Ruzzle rise into the top 10 US top grossing chart; one of 39 countries where that happened. The game's even done 500,000 paid sales on Android.

You can see the full Top 50 Developers of 2013 list as it's revealed here.