Best Videogame Developer: Greedily plotting to devour your free time
The Sims videogame sold sixty million units and made about a billion dollars in revenue for Emeryville's Maxis Studios with one important hook: real problems. Gamers got an alternate, open-ended life with problems that could actually be fixed or reset. Such an addictive concept snagged female players, older people, and other nongaming demographics who have been loyal ever since. Sims creator Will Wright will continue to enchant in 2007 with Spore, where gamers literally play God, controlling evolution and the fates of planets and civilization, one microbe at a time. At ten times the normal videogame budget ($30 million), twice the development cycle (five years), a thousand times the normal hype (Wright guest-edited a recent issue of Wired), Spore sounds like gaming's Waterworld in the making, but it might just be the next Titanic. Until then, the twenty-year-old Maxis Studios remains the biggest consumer of idle gaming time the world over.