The video game industry has come a long way from the days of pioneers like Super Mario Brothers. The gaming realm has expanded beyond plumbers rescuing princesses and into seemingly endless possibilities and scenarios to fully engage the gamer in their experience. Not to mention, the console wars ensure that the beneficiary of the battle for superior renderings and killer graphics is the everyday gamer. Today, the gaming industry has never been better or as lucrative.
Financially, developers are reaping the benefits of the explosion of gaming interest among the masses. The proliferation of companies producing their own original games only builds a broader base of fans that will follow the brand to whichever console they serve. As a result, the developers, as well as the big-time consoles, are raking in the cash.
Odds are if you are a gamer, you have played a product of one of these ten wealthy game developers. In what is a multi-billion dollar industry, the gamers fuel the creative machines that advance the overall gaming experience. The future is bright for all involved with the video game industry.
10. Square Enix – Value: $1.26 billion
The Japanese company is most famous for creating the Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts series of games. The Final Fantasy series has sold over 110 million copies as of June 2014, making it by far their best-selling franchise to date. Building on their status as role playing game masters, Kingdom Hearts, in conjunction with Disney, is a rising star in the RPG genre, selling over 20 million copies as of March 2014.
In 2009, Square Enix bought Eidos Interactive and thus claimed the rights to the wildly popular Tomb Raider series. This only adds more in the way of expansive RPG play to Square Enix’s robust stable of franchises. This keeps true to the company’s goal of making games where the story and aesthetics of the game itself come first and foremost in the creative process.
9. Ubisoft – Value: $1.85 billion
Among the independent game companies in the industry, Ubisoft is the third largest behind only Activision and Electronic Arts. However, the French company is not lacking in resources or popular titles in their reserves. Assassin’s Creed, Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six, and Splinter Cell are among the famous titles developed by Ubisoft.
Founded in 1986 by the five Guillemot brothers, Ubisoft started out as a French distributor for games created by Electronic Arts, Sierra On-Line, and Microprose. Soon thereafter, the company set its sights on the U.S., United Kingdom, and Germany, distributing games in these markets. By the early ‘90s, Ubisoft turned towards development, beginning with online games such as Everquest.
Today, first person shooters are the pride of Ubisoft’s brand. Adventure epics such as Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia are incredibly popular, too. From humble beginnings to a major player in the development game, Ubisoft has scored big.
8. Konami – Value: $3.24 billion
Konami is a conglomerate of many products, including the development of video games. Trading cards, slot machines, arcade games, and even the management of health clubs all fall under the Konami umbrella of products and services. However, video games are where Konami makes the majority of their revenue.
Among Konami’s credited titles include horror brands such as Castlevania and Silent Hill, action series Metal Gear, and music arcade series Dance Dance Revolution. Silent Hill made the transition from its movie style gameplay to the big screen in the 2005 adaptation Silent Hill starring Naomi Watts in the abandoned ghostly, coal mining town.
7. Electronic Arts – Value: $4.14 billion
If you are a sports gamer, you would undoubtedly know Electronic Arts as the force behind titles such as the mammoth Madden NFL franchise. However, EA’s reach goes well beyond the sports gaming set. Need For Speed, The Sims, Command and Conquer, and Medal of Honor are the franchises EA has developed from their beginnings as a PC game developer into popular console brands. Since then, EA has created new hit titles such as Mass Effect for Xbox and Playstation. Much like Square Enix, EA found itself a large media partner to collaborate on a new game. LucasArts and EA have worked together to produce Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, combining one of the largest independent game developers in the industry with one of the largest entertainment franchises in history.
6. Namco Bandai – Value: $4.74 billion
Namco’s roots lie in arcades all over the world. The Japanese company’s domain is the amusement park, supplying large scale arcade games. None other than the most famous of all arcade game characters, Pac-Man, was created by Namco.
Along the way, Namco capitalized on the success of the power pellet-munching dynamo. The acquisition of Atari and their partnership with Nintendo in the 1980s were chief among Namco’s ascent in the video game world. However, after a rash of tough business decisions, Namco stepped aside from game development until their 2005 merger with Bandai, which has continued popular series such as Tekken and Naruto.
5. Activision Blizzard – Value: $4.85 billion
In 2008, Activision merged with Vivendi Games. Thus, Activision Blizzard was born. As a result, the combined powers have resulted in a number of hit franchises to further propel this conglomerate ahead as of one of the big players in game development. Look no further than the juggernaut that is the Call of Duty Series. Arguably, only Halo is a more popular franchise than C.O.D., but Activision Blizzard has World of Warcraft to fall back on as well. To have the world’s most popular online role playing game like W.O.W. as their own, Activision Blizzard is assuredly not losing much sleep at night with this franchise in their arsenal.
4. Sega – Value: $4.9 billion
Sega used to be in the mix with the rest of the console giants in the industry. Now the home of that turbo, blue blur named Sonic the Hedgehog is solely focused on lending a hand to other companies from a development standpoint. Today, Sega finds itself in a partnership with former competitor, Nintendo; producing crossover titles such as the Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games franchise. However, that rapid rodent has also made a comeback in a two part, fourth installment of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise entitled, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I and Episode II in 2009 and 2012 respectively.
3. Nintendo – Value: $6.28 billion
From playing cards to hotels to video games, Nintendo has done it all in their 125-year history. However, Nintendo found the magic formula with a plumber named Mario who was determined to save Princess Peach from the King Koopa, Bowser, in the smash hit, Super Mario Bros. Since then, Nintendo has evolved in terms of consoles to remain at the forefront of the gaming industry. From the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo, Gamecube, Wii, and Wii U, Nintendo has changed with the times in terms of ways to deliver an enjoyable gaming experience. Not only that, franchises like Mario, Pokémon, and The Legend of Zelda have set up Nintendo to succeed in terms of sustainability.
2. Microsoft Studios – Value: $12.82 billion
Formed in conjunction with the establishment of the Xbox in 2002, Microsoft Studios added another lucrative option to the stable at technology giant, Microsoft. Microsoft Studios’ products flood the market on numerous devices not limited to the traditional gaming console. The company produces games for Windows PCs as well as the Windows Phone.
However, what has lifted Microsoft Studios into the stratosphere of the gaming world is the Halo franchise. The science fiction, first person shooter starring Master Chief has been a staple of the Xbox franchise since its debut in 2001. Selling over 60 million units since it first came on the scene; the Halo franchise has earned Microsoft nearly $3.4 billion.
1. Sony Computer Entertainment – Value: $13.4 billion
The creative force behind Sony’s Playstation line of consoles, Sony Computer Entertainment is the king of video game development. Among Sony’s hits include the God of War and Gran Turismo franchises. God of War, the Greek mythology-based adventure epic, has spawned six sequels to its name, spanning multiple platforms under the Sony banner. However, Gran Turismo has claimed the title of best-selling franchise by Sony since its debut in 1997. The grand touring style racing game has been at forefront in terms of aesthetic advances in game development. Also, it does not hurt that over the years, the selection of cars to choose from has grown from 140 to 1226 in the latest edition, 2013’s Gran Turismo 6. These two titles are a small sample as to why Sony is the current king of the video game kingdom.