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Before They Were Stars: Video Game Edition

These are 12 of the biggest names in game development. And before they made hits, they had awkward growing pains, like the rest of us.

Posted on June 24, 2013, at 3:12 p.m. ET

1. Bungie hit it big with Halo: Combat Evolved in 2001.

Only four months before, they released Oni, a third-person shooter set in the year 2032.


2. Naughty Dog, which just released game of the year candidate The Last of Us, had their first smash with Crash Bandicoot in 1996.

The year before, they released Way of the Warrior, a now-forgotten Mortal Kombat knockoff.

It was only available on the 3DO, the disastrous licensed game console.


3. Blizzard, the force behind the titanic World of Warcraft, released the first Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, in 1994.

Earlier that year, Blizzard released an extreme, side-scrolling dark fantasy shooter called Blackthorne.

(Actually, this game rules.)

But still, gurrr??

4. Rovio is the Finnish developer that can print money due to the Angry Birds games, the first of which came out in 2009.

The same year, they released Bounce: Evolution, a game about a ball with eyes.


For the Nokia N900. That world-conquering piece of technology.


5. BioWare is the Canadian developer that has been making classic RPGs from 1998's Baldur's Gate all the way up to the Mass Effect trilogy.

Their first game came out in 1996. It was a middling mech game called Shattered Steel.

6. Bethesda, which has released the triumphant Skyrim and Fallout 3 in the past 5 years, put out the first Elder Scrolls game in 1994.

The year before, they released The Terminator: Rampage, a Doom knockoff.

7. Insomniac started on their run of terrific platformers with 1998's Spyro the Dragon. They've since moved onto the Resistance and Ratchet and Clank series.

But in 1996, they got their start with the generic first person shooter, Disruptor.

What in god's name?

8. Ubisoft Montreal has made almost too many great games to name, starting in 2002 with the first Splinter Cell.

And including the Assassin's Creed games, Far Cry 2 and 3, and the modern Prince of Persia games.

Their first game, from 1998, is a wacky N64 platformer called Tonic Trouble

No. No. No.

9. Polyphony Digital, a Sony studio, has made every Grand Turismo since the second one, in 1999.

Earlier that year, they released Omega Boost, which is definitely something.


10. DICE are the graphic-master Swedes behind the Battlefield series, the first of which, Battlefield: 1942, was a smash in 2002.

The year before, they released Diva Starz: Mall Mania. It's a game about some dolls at the mall.


11. SCE Santa Monica had its first major hit with God of War in 2005.

Great game.

Their only game before that? Kinetica, a forgettable 2001 racer.

Uh okay.

12. Neversoft are responsible for the legendary Tony Hawk series. The first game came out in 1999.

They got started in 1995 with Skeleton Warriors, which is not awesome.


13. And then there's the mighty Valve, of the nearly perfect Portal games.

Their first game, in 1998, was just a little nothing game called, oh wait.