↓ 19. Sam and Dan Houser, The Brothers Rockstar

May 30, 2012 Update: Even after getting hit with a delay, the release of Max Payne 3 was received highly, including by us.

Feb 20, 2012 Update: Max Payne 3 slipped from March to May. Delays of Rockstar games usually lead to very good games, but they also tend to lengthen the wait for the next one, likely knocking GTA V out of any crystal balls that pegged it for 2012. GTA III on iOS is a hit, though, and now the original Max Payne is en route. Signs of a new platform for Rockstar to rule?

Why They're Powerful

Somewhere right now the Houser brothers are being taken for granted. They stay out of the spotlight, expecting their work to speak for itself. And does it ever. The brothers' Rockstar Games are responsible for the king-maker franchise Grand Theft Auto, the stunning 2010 creative and commercial success Red Dead Redemption, plus a line of buzz-worthy games that has included Manhunt, Bully and even a table tennis game.

There is no studio more unpredictable than Rockstar, and there is no better studio at making sure that every single one of its games—even the oddball ones—is a big deal. They made a mid-20th-century detective story a major game release in 2011 and intend to make a revival of Max Payne a huge deal in 2012. Their newly-revealed Grand Theft Auto V brought the Internet to Apple-keynote-level attention with a single teaser and its possible 2012 release would challenge Halo 4, the next Call of Duty and the Wii U as the biggest gaming happening of the year.

But even tallying all that past and probably future success is taking the Housers for granted. Which studio sets the standard for.. soundtracks? Cut-scenes? Writing? Voice-acting? It's the one run by these guys. They keep Rockstar vital year after year, as one of gaming's most intriguing brands. All they are on the verge of is potentially the biggest Rockstar year yet.

They have power, the we-can-do-whatever-we-want kind of power.