When people think of billionaires, they typically think of people who are in the finance or entertainment industry. They don’t usually think of the gaming industry, which has quite a few billionaires of its own. The fact is, if you hit it big and create the next big game, there’s a lot of money to be made. Whether they designed the games themselves or headed the companies that designed them, these billionaires made a fortune in the gaming industry. Some of them even suffered losses in the economic crash, but they still sit on top of billions of dollars. Many of the billionaires on this list have seen ebbs and flows in the amount of their fortune. The economy and their questionable business decisions have led many of these billionaires to see fluctuations in their net worth, but all of them have remained billionaires. These billionaires come from all walks of life. Some are from overseas, while others were born and raised in the United States. Some completed college, while others dropped out, or never got a formal education.
5. Hiroshi Yamauchi
For 55 years, Hiroshi Yamauchi led Nintendo acting as the company’s CEO. From the early days of collectable playing cards to newer forms of electronic entertainment, Hiroshi steered the company to new heights of financial success. Hiroshi first broke into electronic gaming with the Magnavox Odyssey in 1974 and since that time, the name Nintendo has become synonymous with video gaming. The 11th richest man in Japan, Hiroshi retired in 2005. Since his retirement, revenue at Nintendo has slipped which has caused Hiroshi’s personal net worth to slip from $2.8 billion to $2.5 billion. In 2006, before Nintendo suffered a major financial crisis, his net worth was reported to be $7.8 billion. Hiroshi Yamauchi died in 2013 at the age of 85. He was married to Michiko Inaba with whom he had three children. Their first daughter, Yoko, was born in 1950, and after a series of miscarriages, their second daughter, Fujiko, was born. Shortly after, their last child, a son, was born. At a young age, Yamauchi had a stale relationship with his father, Shikanojo. It was so stale that one day, his father decided to visit him. Hiroshi refused to talk to his father at the time. Years later, his half sister contacted him with bad news that their father had died. He attended the funeral where he met four of his sisters that he was unaware of. He felt sorry, and the funeral of his father changed him extensively. In fact, he cried often and mourned for a long time.
4. Gabe Newell
Gabe Newell is among the most popular and recognizable figures in Western PC gaming. In September of 2012, Gabe had an estimated net worth of $1.5 billion, which has since dropped to a mere $1.1 billion. So where did Gabe make all of his hard earned cash? Gabe is the founder of the Valve Corporation. Valve is famous for making popular games like Half-Life, Left 4 Dead and Portal. Valve is also responsible for making the digital distribution platform Steam. Valve is a privately owned company. The company itself is estimated to be worth $3 billion. Gabe actually owns half of Valve, which he founded after a decade of producing software for Microsoft. Gabe is another one of those classic ‘billionaire school dropouts’ stories. Having dropped out of Harvard University, Gabe joined Microsoft. At Microsoft, he helped develop the first releases of the Windows software, and ultimately earned millions from the company. Upon being inspired by Michael Abrash of Quake, he left Microsoft in 1996 to start his own company, Valve Corporation. Today, this worldwide company employs in excess of 330 people and has a total equity of US $2.5 billion. Gabe is married, and has two children. He has won many accolades including being named as ‘A Name You Should Know’ by Forbes in 2010 and winning a BAFTA Fellowship Award in 2013. In an interview with CVG in 2011, Gabe let the world know his three favorite games – Super Mario 64, Doom, and Star Trek.
3. Yoshikazu Tanaka
Keeping a low public profile, Yoshikazu Tanaka is quite possibly one of the richest gaming billionaires around. In 2012, Tanaka had an estimated net worth of $3.5 billion, but since that time, his fortune has whittled down to $1.8 billion. Tanaka made his fortune as the CEO of the Japanese mobile gaming and social networking service GREE. When Tanaka turned 26, he started developing SNS GREE as a hobby. A year later, he opened SNS GREE to the public as a personal website. Within one month, the website had more than 10,000 users. The decline in Tanaka’s fortune is due to the crackdown by the Japanese government on social game marketing. Delayed games and slow overseas sales have also put a dent in this bachelor’s vast fortune. Born in 1977, Yoshikazu Tanaka was obsessed with the information age. As a junior high school student, he regularly read Alvin Tofflers’s book – Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century. At the age of 30, his company was listed on the Market of the High-Growth and Emerging Stocks and performed well as the highest market value of shares on the first day. At the age of 33, he was named the Second Youngest Self-Made Billionaire in the World after Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. He was also crowned Asia’s Youngest Self-Made Billionaire at that age.
2. Hajime Satomi
After dropping out of college in 1975, Hajime Satomi founded the Sammy Corporation. Sammy manufactured equipment for Japan’s Pachinko industry. The company is the leading manufacturer of Pachislot and Pachinko machines. In 2004, the Sammy Corporation bought the Sega Corporation for $394 million dollars. Slow sales of his pachinko pinball and slot machines have weighed down his earnings, but according to Forbes, Satomi is still worth a cool $1.1 billion. Growing strong, Satomi recently won approval to build a $1.7 billion dollar casino in South Korea. The casino is slated to open in 2017. Currently, Hajime Satomi serves as the Chairman, CEO, President and Director of Sega Sammy Holdings, the Chairman and Director of Sammy Corporation, and the CEO Director and Chairman of Sega Corp. In 2013, Sega Sammy Holdings had total revenue of US $3.7 billion with an employee base of 7,149 people. In the same year, the Sammy Corporation employed 1,105 people. In 2011, Sega Corporation performed well with total revenue of US$4.9 billion and net income of US$512.857 million. By 2013, the corporation had an employee base of 2,208 people. Its product range included Dreamcast, Sonic the Hedgehog series, Shining series, Saturn, The House of the Dead series, Total War series, Game Gear, Master System, Yakuza series, and Mega-CD. He is ranked as the 33rd richest person in Japan and is married with three children.
1. Marc Pincus
Marc Pincus is the owner of Zynga. This basically means he owns half of Facebook. Zynga has created popular social networking games like Farmville, Bubble Safari, Words with Friends, Draw Something and City Ville, among others. Pincus named the company after his late pet bulldog. When Pincus opened his company to investors, his personal fortune fluctuated. Shares of Zynga were at an all-time high in the spring of 2012, which really padded Marc Pincus’ wallet. However, after making the questionable decision to sell 16.5 million shares, rumors of insider trading plagued the company. Once worth a cool $2 billion dollars, his fortune now hovers just above $1 billion. Named CEO of the Year at the Crunchies Technology Awards in 2009, Mark currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Zynga, having relinquished his position as CEO and Chief Product Officer. As of 2013, Zynga had an asset base of US $2.2 billion, total revenue of US $873 million, and employed 2,034 people. It also enjoys a monthly user base of 240 million people, which translates to about 10 – 15 million people per day. Mark is married to Ali Gelb Pincus, and together they have two daughters. His wife is the founder of One Kings Lane, a website that offers furniture and home accessories.
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