The video game industry is booming. Today, the best gaming companies in the world experience incredible success. Gaming is no longer tied to PCs. People experience high-level gaming experiences on their phones, tablets, televisions, and other mobile and handheld devices.
How Much Do Gaming Companies Make?
In 2017, the gaming market was worth $78 billion and it’s projected to hit $90 billion in 2020. Eighty percent of that revenue is in software. Since 2016, over 2.5 billion people have bought and played video games.
The video game renaissance has brought about enormous game revenues for many game publishers, development studios, and private individuals.
You can measure this success in different ways, below is an unordered list of the top video game companies of all time based on their financial success:
- Sony Computer Entertainment
- Activision Blizzard
- Rockstar Games
- Epic Games
We’ll take a closer look at these gaming industry companies below.
Sony Computer Entertainment
SCE has been around for a while. It is a subsidiary of tech giant Sony and was built around the successful PlayStation video game console. SCE was founded in Tokyo on November 16, 1993, to handle Sony’s video game development for the PlayStation systems.
As of writing, it is the most successful video game company in the world. It has a reported $20.8 billion in revenue for the 2018 fiscal year. This revenue is higher than any other segment of the Sony Corporation.
Some notable releases from Sony Computer Entertainment are:
- Last of Us
- Marvel’s Spider-Man
- Ratchet & Clank
- God of War
- Crash Bandicoot
It would be irresponsible not to mention Nintendo, as Nintendo is the oldest video game company on this list. Nintendo was formed 130 years ago in 1889 as Nintendo Karuta Co. Its purpose was to create hand-illustrated hanafuda, which are Japanese playing cards with pictures, rather than numbers and suits.
Between 1963 and 1968, Nintendo branched out to other ventures. They created a taxi company, a “love hotel” chain, an instant rice company, and an adorable remote control vacuum cleaner, among other things. The only products that didn’t flop were their toys. Nintendo became a toy company.
Nintendo as a Toy Company
Nintendo dipped into the video game market in 1972. It created a light gun for use with the Magnavox Odyssey.
After this, they began to make their own games with arcade cabinets like Donkey Kong. This signaled the start of Shigeru Miyamoto’s long career in 1981.
Nintendo’s First Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
In 1985, Nintendo released the Famicom (known in the US as the Nintendo Entertainment System). After this came the Nintendo 64, the Game Boy, and all the beloved consoles and games Nintendo makes today.
Nintendo may not have the highest sales revenue, but it’s longevity, legacy, and popularity is astounding. Mario is one of the most recognizable characters of all time. Nintendo made $5.59 billion in revenue in 2018 alone.
Notable Nintendo releases include the following:
- Super Mario Bros.
- The Legend of Zelda
- Metroid Prime
- Animal Crossing
- Super Smash Bros.
The story of this game company is really the story of Markus “Notch” Persson. There are plenty of gaming companies that have made more money than Mojang. However, not many owe their success to a single game. The story starts with Persson and Minecraft, a personal project of his.
Minecraft was released in 2009. The game was so popular even in an early state that Persson incorporated Mojang AB around the development of the game.
During the following years, Minecraft became one of the most successful and well-known titles of all time. It reached over ten million registered accounts in just two years. It was so successful that they were able to rewrite the game into a different programming language. This allowed the game to be ported to mobile devices and consoles.
In 2014, Persson sold Mojang to Microsoft for $2.5 billion. Every employee who stayed at the company for six months after the sale was awarded a bonus close to $300,000 after taxes.
After the sale, Persson left the company with a net worth of $1.6 billion. Minecraft has sold 176 million copies at the time of writing, making it the second best-selling video game of all time just behind Tetris.
Electronic Arts, often abbreviated EA, is also worth mentioning for its age. It’s one of the oldest gaming companies that has remained a successful business. It was originally founded in 1982, and it is best known for its sports representation in its yearly games like NFL, NBA, and FIFA.
Now, EA also owns Swedish games company DICE, which created the Battlefield and Star Wars Battlefront series of first-person shooters. EA is also the sole distributor of Star Wars games following a deal with Disney.
EA’s total net worth is $22.90 Billion, and in 2018 they had a record-breaking $5.1 billion in revenue.
Notable EA releases are:
- Mass Effect
- Medal of Honor
- Need for Speed
- Apex Legends
A twin-headed monster in the gaming industry, Activision and Blizzard each are responsible for extremely popular games. Activision is well known for the Tony Hawk franchise and the ubiquitous Call of Duty first-person shooter franchise. Blizzard is the old king of massively multiplayer online games. It created World of Warcraft, one of the most popular MMOs to ever be released.
The two gaming companies merged in 2007 to become Activision Blizzard and went on to create even more highly popular games like Overwatch and Destiny.
Activision Blizzard joined the Fortune 500 and became the third gaming company in history to make the list, after Atari and Electronic Arts. In 2018 Activision Blizzard reported generating $7.5 billion in revenue.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
- Tony Hawk Pro Skater
- Call of Duty
- World of Warcraft
In 1999 BMG games joined Take-Two Interactive to create Rockstar Games. The development company is most well known for its Grand Theft Auto series.
In 2014, Rockstar shipped more than 250 million copies of their games. That number was replicated in 2016. 250 million copies of the Grand Theft Auto series shipped. The latest entry, Grand Theft Auto V, has sold more than any other game in the series and in the company’s history. It ranks among the best-selling games of all time with over 110 million copies.
Rockstar is responsible for the popular and critically acclaimed Red Dead series. While all of their games have a similar style and feel, they are unique from the main market of games. When asked why they don’t create first-person shooters like the majority of their competition, Rockstar’s Creative VP Dan Houser replied “… It’s in our DNA to avoid doing what other companies are doing.”
Take-Two Interactive Software, a container company for Rockstar, reported their annual revenue for 2019 was $2.66 billion. This is an amazing 48% increase from 2018.
- Red Dead Redemption
- Grand Theft Auto
- Max Payne
- L.A. Noire
Potomac Computer Systems was founded by Tim Sweeney in 1991 while he was a student at the University of Maryland. Potomac turned into Epic MegaGames, an attempt to make this one person studio seem larger.
However, living up to its namesake, Epic MegaGames had 50 employees by 1997. A year later, they developed the first-person shooter Unreal, along with the first iteration of the Unreal engine. At this point, they dropped the ‘Mega’ to become Epic games. Following this was the highly popular shooter Unreal Tournament, and then the even more popular Gears of War series.
In 2012 the company moved to the new “games as a service” business model. Epic then announced a new game called Fortnite. It wasn’t until 2017 that Fortnite was ready for the public. Prior to the release of the main game, the company released a battle royale mode for free. Things happened very quickly after that.
Battle Royale Mode
Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode quickly gained an audience, deeply overshadowing the main game’s release. It gained over 125 million players by May 2018, gaining an estimated $1 billion in revenue by July 2018 through microtransactions. Epic Games valued at $825 million before the release of Fortnite, and it was estimated to be worth $4.5 billion by July 2018.
Epic managed to break new ground by convincing Sony to allow cross-play with Windows and Xbox, and then eventually all platforms. By March of 2019, the game had garnered 250 million players, and Epic Games is worth an estimated $15 billion.
Other Notable Gaming Companies
While these are some of the most successful gaming companies in the world, there are still several prominent ones to remember.
Valve Corporation is a gaming studio known for several of its popular titles. This includes Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress, Dota, Half-Life, and the Portal series. Today, the company garners a great deal of success from its Steam platform. This platform distributes games to consumers created by various developers.
In the early 1980s, Atari was a video game juggernaut. The company led the video game market for years before the industry crashed in 1983. Today, Atari plans to release a new video game console for a more modern audience.
While Sega is known for its Sonic franchise today, there was a time when it was a juggernaut in the industry. The company competed with Nintendo to be the best in video game software and consoles. However, Sega stopped developing consoles after the release of the Sega Dreamcast.
How to Get Into the Gaming Industry?
Many of these branded game companies have small origins leading to massive success. The only thing standing between you and joining them is getting started. If you are interested in pursuing a career in the gaming industry, earning a degree in game design is a great first step.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.