September 12, 2020
Grab your controllers, fire up your PC, launch your favorite mobile app, and get your game on. Today is National Video Games Day, and in honor of this auspicious occasion, we decided to take a look at some of the companies behind today’s most popular games. This isn’t just about fun. It’s big business. The video game industry was valued at a staggering $151.06 billion globally in 2019 by Grand View Research, an India and U.S.-based market research and consulting company.
The industry has certainly come a long way since the days of Pong (the first commercially successful video game for you younger folks). In the nearly 50 years since Pong’s release, video gaming has moved from the arcades to the home to pretty much everywhere, thanks to huge leaps in technology and the prevalence of broadband Internet access. So, as you get your game on, let’s take a look at the publicly traded companies behind the immersive virtual worlds in which millions of gamers spend countless hours.
Tencent Holdings Ltd. (Tii:TCEHY)
As the world's largest video game vendor, Tencent is the reigning champ of this arena with a major presence in every facet of the industry. The parent company of Riot Games, Inc. (the developer of the wildly-popular League of Legends online battle arena game) also has a minority stake in Epic Games, another major player and developer of popular franchises like Fortnite, Unreal, Gears of War and Infinity Blade. Tencent also has a major presence in the world of esports, one of the fastest-growing competitions in the world. Illustrating this, the League of Legends World Championship Semifinals back in 2016 famously sold out all 18,000-plus seats of the iconic Madison Square Garden.
Activision Blizzard Inc. (Tii:ATVI)
Like others in the industry, the company behind the successful Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo and Candy Crush franchises benefitted from recent stay-at-home trends. In its most recent fiscal second quarter ended June 30, Activision Blizzard’s net revenues climbed to $1.93 billion, as compared with $1.4 billion for the same period last year. This exceeded the company’s outlook. Call of Duty: Warzone, released in March, and Call of Duty Mobile released last year, brought millions of new players to the nearly 20-year-old franchise. Look for the company to make a splash in October with World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, the eighth expansion pack for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game.
Electronic Arts Inc. (Tii:EA)
With a portfolio of franchises that include The Sims, Madden NFL, EA Sports, FIFA, Battlefield, Need for Speed, Dragon Age and Plants vs. Zombies, Electronic Arts reported a record fiscal second quarter. These strong results are thanks in part to EA’s "Stay Home, Play Together" initiatives, 30 new content updates, two major game expansions, and more than 50 mobile updates. Upcoming EA releases include Star Wars: Squadrons on October 2, FIFA 21 on October 6, and NHL 21 on October 21.
Microsoft Corp. (Tii:MSFT) and Sony Corp. (Tii:SNE)
This holiday season will be a clash of the gaming console titans. With the new fourth-generation Xbox and competing PlayStation 5 both slated to debut this holiday season, you can expect not only a run on both of these high-demand items but also a slew of new games as developers rush to meet the feverish demand that will no doubt arise as a result of these new platforms. The prior Xbox model debuted in 2013 at an initial price of $499 and went on to sell an estimated 50 million units, while the PlayStation 4 (also released around the same time as the prior Xbox) sold roughly 110 million units at an introductory price of $399.99.
Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (Tii:TTWO)
The parent company of Rockstar Games and popular franchises BioShock, Borderlands and NBA 2K is the third-largest publicly traded game company in the Americas and Europe. Its controversial Grand Theft Auto franchise alone sold more than 200 million copies while Red Dead Redemption 2 generated $725 million in revenue in just three days after its release. The company clearly has a robust pipeline of games in the works. In a recent investors call, CEO Strauss Zelnick announced plans to release 93 games over the next five years.
Ubisoft Entertainment SA (Tii:UBSFY)
The French creator, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and services develops the popular Prince of Persia, Far Cry, Just Dance, and Tom Clancy gaming franchises that have entertained millions of gamers for countless hours. The company generated a lot of buzz in the gaming community when it announced that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the latest installment to its successful Assassin’s Creed franchise (one of the highest-selling video game franchises of all time), will explore the world of the ancient Vikings this November.
Amazon.com Inc. (Tii:AMZN)
Though primarily a retail platform in the gaming space, Amazon has a major influence in the industry beyond selling a lot of games, thanks to its Twitch Interactive subsidiary. A video service primarily focused on video game live streaming and broadcasts of esports competitions, Twitch is a platform used by videogame influencers around the world. With more than 100 million viewers each month, Twitch is the leading live streaming video service for video games in the U.S.
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