July 8, 2021
Video games have come a long way since Pong became the first commercially successful launch in the 1975 Holiday Season. Market research firm Statista predicts the industry will grow each year, reaching $100 billion in worldwide revenues by 2023. Much of that growth comes through mobile gaming, which accounted for $10.73 billion in revenues globally in 2020. With July 8 recognized as National Video Game Day, here is a quick look at a few developers making waves – whether on consoles, PCs, tablets, or phones.
Activision Blizzard Inc. (Tii:ATVI) has long been known for the Call of Duty, Candy Crush, World of Warcraft and Overwatch franchises. Over the past two years, the developer expanded beyond PC and console games with offerings in the mobile sphere. Call of Duty Mobile, released in October 2019, reached 300 million downloads in its first year alone. In the fourth quarter, monthly payers in the West reached the highest level yet, with the average spend per payer increasing strongly year-over-year. Though the company reported that the number of players accessing its games dropped from 32 million to 27 million monthly, new releases may entice some back. In the works is a new Call of Duty in late 2021 and Diablo II: Resurrected, an update of the popular 2000 PC game. Activision Blizzard announced a mobile game in the successful franchise, Diablo Immortal, tentatively set for release on Android and iOS in late 2021.
Headquartered in New York City, Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (Tii:TTWO) is a leading developer, publisher, and marketer of interactive entertainment for consumers around the globe. The company’s extensive gaming portfolio includes popular titles such as World Poker Tour and WWE and NBA 2K franchises. In the fall of 2020, Take-Two acquired game studio Ruffian Games, which brings with it such titles as Crackdown 2 and Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Take-Two’s Rockstar Games subsidiary produces the popular Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead, Midnight Club, Max Payne and Manhunt franchises. On July 1, the company acquired Dynamixyz, a provider of video-based facial animation services whose projects included the Netflix, Inc. (Tii:NFLX) Love, Death & Robots animated series and Avengers: Endgame.
Zynga Inc. (Tii:ZNGA), which launched its best-known game, FarmVille, on Facebook in June 2009, has also produced dozens of others for mobile devices. Among them is Zynga Poker, Words with Friends 2, CityVille, Mafia Wars and others. The game developer greatly expanded its library over the last year through the acquisitions of Turkish developer Peak for $1.8 billion and Istanbul-based mobile games developer Rollic for approximately $180 million. In collaboration with Lucasfilm Games, Zynga is developing Star Wars: Hunters, a competitive arena combat game for the Nintendo Switch system, due out later this year. These deals contributed to the company’s record first-quarter revenues, which gained more than 68% from the same period last year to reach $680 million.
Electronic Arts Inc. (Tii:EA), long known for its popular PC and console games, is expanding further into the mobile gaming market. In late April, EA acquired Glu Mobile, a game developer for mobile phones and tablet computers, for an estimated $2.1 billion. Founded in San Francisco in 2001, Glu Mobile produces many titles for iOS and Android, including Baldur’s Gate, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, Battleship, Family Feud, and several installments of the popular Call of Duty franchise. Looking ahead, Electronic Arts, whose Apex Legends, FIFA Ultimate Team, Madden NFL and The Sims games experienced substantial growth in 2020, expects to generate $6.8 billion in net revenue for its next fiscal year. These predicted results represent a 22% increase from the company’s fiscal full year ended March 31, 2021.
Though a Chinese multinational technology conglomerate holding company with a presence in several tech sectors, Tencent Holdings Limited (Tii:TCEHY) is also the world’s largest video game vendor. Tencent, which owns Riot Games, the company behind the popular League of Legends, also owns a 40% stake in Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite. The company reported 25% year-over-year revenue growth for its first quarter on strong sales from its mobile games, including Honour of Kings, PUBG Mobile, and Peacekeeper Elite, as well as recently launched titles such as Moonlight Blade Mobile.
The video gaming industry – which has outperformed both movies and sports combined – is now the largest entertainment source. This growth, combined with rabid demand for popular titles, creates solid opportunities for the savvy game-loving investor.