Hey, all. Working on a long piece and find my memory failing me. To the best of my knowledge, these are the only game publishers that remain from the early '80s:
Broderbund (though it seems to have little relationship to the Broderbund of old. Lemonade Tycoon, anyone?)
Cosmi (though most of its games are now issued under the Swift brand)
Hudson Soft actually was swallowed by Konami and while they do kind of keep their name, they aren’t a publisher anymore, just a developer and this list is about publishers, right? Takara was also bought by Konami.
And of course Namco, Capcom and Konami are still around, its rather hard to miss that isn’t it? If the question is, “Do they still publish?” Yes, they still do. Most recently and notably, Namco published Arika’s Nightmare of Druaga, Monolith’s Baten Kaitos and Xenosaga series, and Argonaut’s I-Ninja among other games. Its also important to note the developing team that creates the Tales series wasn’t originally part of Namco, but got absorbed later and was originally known as Wolf Team. Konami publishes way too much to remember. Capcom is a huge publisher of foreign games in Japan, everything from GTA, Mark of Kri, Alone in the Dark, Age of Wonders, etc, etc. I’m not sure whether we’re keeping them off the list because they still merged but Square Enix is of course there. (Enix is older than Square, but Square has been around since the early 80s as well.) While Square has not traditionally been much more beyond a developer that publishes their own games, Enix is actually a publisher only. And Square does publish other company’s games. Taito is still a publisher, but as far as I know, only in Japan. Bandai/Banpresto are still around in major force as well though Banpresto hasn’t been around since the early 80s, they are tied to Bandai. Irem continues much in the same way they always have, though at a lessened capacity. Tecmo is another that is in the same position since their early 80s days. SNK is still around as SNK Playmore, though its important to note, they were gone for a period of 3 years, they did legitimately resurrect with the same trademarks and many of the same developers. And they still do publish. Sega is still a publisher on a technicality, technically now they are a branch of Sammy. Atlus may be new to Western gamers, but they’ve been around since the 80s as well.
The question marks were for “Did they publish titles in the early eighties?” I couldn’t think of any Capcom, Konami, etc titles that came out in 1980-1981. Not if they continue to publish today.
What defines a publisher anyway? If I write a game and release it myself, does this make me the publisher? So all developers could be publishers and also use publishers. Publishers can be developers, but they have studios instead of developers, or both, or neither. I suppose if you’re a developer with exclusive contracts for publishing under one publisher, than you would just be a developer and not a publisher. And a publisher without studios would only be a publisher…
As much as its kicked around, there are in fact a number of long time Atari employees from the mid 80s, early 90s that work at Infogrames’ Sunnyvale, CA office (aka Atari Labs) Including the main designer of the flair line of systems (Konix, Panther, Jaguar). So its not entirely true that this Atari is “in name only”
By many strict definitions, Atari died is 76 when it as sold to Warners. Infogrames owns atari, and it releasing gaming hardware. Not overly sure what people expect.