From their humble beginnings in the arcades to the household items they are today, video games have become an unstoppable entertainment juggernaut in America and around the world. As time goes by, video games are quickly becoming one of the most popular - and lucrative - forms of media in the world. The annual sales of video games cleared $78 billion in 2012, more than twice as much as the ticket sales of 2012 for cinema, which were worth just over $34 billion. Needless to say, these numbers have made many of the major companies in the entertainment industry look towards video games as a huge source of revenue.
Video games started out as very simple technology back in the 70s and 80s, but quickly became a force to be reckoned after arcade culture truly caught on for the youth of that day. Not only were video games something to do, but they created a culture that youth could be a part of, giving an identity to those pinball wizards and Pac Man geniuses. Video games gave birth to a whole new type of individual who was socially rewarded not necessarily for intelligence, or for athletic ability, but for their fast reflexes.
Today, this culture of people is now referred to as "Gamers." These gamers make up a huge segment of the entertainment market, creating a huge new area for companies to focus their advertising dollars. Those gamers that grew up playing classic video games are now adults with a extra money to spend, able to afford the big new releases and be the consumers that these video game companies need to succeed. With just a few good titles, a video game company can be a huge player in the market, with yearly revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The huge return often means a large budget allocated to developing new games.
As with most other business, the product put out is often judged on the strength of the name behind it. Big names in the gaming industry tend to command more respect, their titles anticipated eagerly by those who might have to choose between several games in deciding what they want to buy. Needless to say, the ones who do put out lots of anticipated titles are rewarded with consumer cash. Here are the ten biggest gaming companies in the world, in ascending order of revenue earned in the year 2012.
10 Capcom - Revenue: $952 Million
Capcom is often brushed under the rug when people discuss the gaming industry players, but they still fall within the top ten earners for the video game market. Quite possibly one of the most successful and well-known games from the Capcom line is Street Fighter, which has spawned several sequels and spinoffs. Some of their other successes include the Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, and Lost Planet franchises, as well as the Megaman games, which remain popular despite their relative age.
9 Konami - Revenue: $1.20 Billion
One of the game manufactures that has been around the longest, Konami has been able to create some great titles that have put them right above the billion mark in revenue. The Dance Dance Revolution, Pro Evolution Soccer, Silent Hill, and Metal Gear Solid franchises have brought Konami continued success, and kept them relevant through the present day. Having been in the video game industry since the Super Nintendo days, the company has truly paid its dues on its road to the success it enjoys today.
8 Square Enix - Revenue: $1.45 Billion
Square Enix is one of the most successful game companies of all time, its Final Fantasy series regularly hailed as one of the best gaming products in the world. Final Fantasy 7, in particular, has set the bar very high for Square Enix, considered an all-time classic, and leading to further success for its characters in later games. The company has stumbled critically in recent years, though it maintains a high revenue stream thanks to the loyalty of its fans and the strength of its product.
7 Ubisoft - Revenue: $1.61 Billion
Behind some of the most popular games of recent times, Ubisoft has been able to capture a very big piece of the video game market revenue share. Responsible for bringing the world critically acclaimed, financially successful titles like Rayman, Assassin's Creed, and Far Cry, the company has found a knack for introducing interesting concepts to gamers, reaping the rewards through regular releases in its many series of games.
6 Sega - Revenue: $3.33 Billion
Sega is another longtime industry player, well-known for the massive amounts of success it enjoyed in the 90s. Their main franchise, which continues to bring them massive amounts of success, is Sonic The Hedgehog, which has given Sega the ability to produce a franchise of games which has kept them near the top of the video game market for many years. Sega is also one of the leading companies in the production of new Arcade games, having abandoned its former business in creating its own home consoles in the 2000s. These interactive games do extremely well in Japan, and receive a solid amount of recognition in the United States as well.
5 Electronic Arts - Revenue: $4.14 Billion
Electronic Arts has been a big player in the video game industry since the beginning of home gaming, its logo gracing the front of popular games from the era of the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo console wars. From the beginning, thanks to titles such as Road Rash, Madden Football, NHL 95, and many more, Electronic Arts quickly became one of the biggest video game producers in the world. Electronic Arts continues to dominate the world of sports gaming, their games regularly featuring on best of lists thanks to their realistic, quality gameplay. Though considered one of the worst companies in America thanks to its apparent disregard for some sections of the gamer base, Electronic Arts continues to grow at at a rapid rate, and is unlikely to drop in clout anytime soon.
4 Blizzard Entertainment - Revenue: $4.85 Billion
Blizzard Entertainment is responsible for some of the biggest, most competitive esports franchises in the world - a much coveted position it has held for decades. Blizzard started out with the simple idea of making adventure strategy games modeled after role playing games, introducing fantasy and science-fiction elements to the genre. The games caught on in a big way, with Starcraft, released in 1998, maintaining a huge following to this day. Other strategy games, including Starcraft II and the Warcraft franchise, have also been met with massive success.
Blizzard was one of the first companies to introduce LAN gaming, allowing players to connect computers together to create a massive battle with all of your friends - without needing to go online. Of course, when online gaming became the norm, the company exploded in popularity, their products now much more functional than ever before. Arguably their greatest success, World of Warcraft, which charges an monthly fee for online game play, made the company one of the biggest in the world, using addictive gameplay to keep users returning month after month, and further lining Blizzard's pockets.
3 Nintendo - Revenue: $6.47 Billion
For the longest time, the name Nintendo was synonymous with video games. One of the top dogs in the video game market from near the beginning, Nintendo shot to prominence with the development of their Nintendo Entertainment System in 1983, the machine being the first game console to be widely accepted into the home. To date, Mario, the breakout star of the NES system, is one of the most popular video game characters ever created, his theme song a tune that is recognized by many around the world.
Nintendo is also known for consistently trying to push forward the way in which games are played. Their Super Nintendo unit, released in the early, 90s was one of the most well-received consoles of all time, churning out classic games like Donkey Kong, Chrono Trigger, F-Zero, and Super Mario World, which have grown to classic status because of the console. Recent years have seen Nintendo experiment with motion control, biometrics, and integrating touchscreens into the home gaming arena. Nintendo has also been a leader in handheld gaming space, a handheld, glasses-free 3D device, the 3DS, their latest triumph in the industry. Between hardware and its own fan-favorite gaming franchises, Nintendo holds a commanding space in the gaming industry.
2 Sony - Revenue: $7.20 Billion
Sony Computer Entertainment is one of the largest producers of video game consoles in the world, their Playstation line a massive hit among those looking for sheer power in their console gaming experience. The company, like Nintendo, offers a strong lineup of games exclusive to its platform, drawing in gamers hungry for quality storytelling and exceptional gameplay. While its online services used to be free, Sony has recently begun charging for the privilege of playing online, the extra funds helping it to improve service and better compete with Microsoft's market-dominating Xbox Live.
1 Microsoft - Revenue: $10.01 Billion
Once known best for its Windows operating system, Microsoft branched out into console gaming in the 2000s, its Xbox one of the pioneers in the world of online gaming. Its platform is renowned for offering great competitive online software, including the Halo and Gears of War franchises, as well as offering a slick online system that made it a default destination for multi-platform games like Call of Duty.
Recent years have seen the company shift direction, transforming the Xbox brand from a pure gaming device into an all-in-one entertainment platform with handy voice and gesture control options. Thanks to a devoted fanbase and the revenue of its Xbox Live online service, Microsoft comes in as the top earner on this list, making it the biggest and most successful video game company in the world.