Ever found yourself thinking, “wow those gaming companies must make a lot of money”? If you have, you are by far not alone. We all tend to contemplate these things now and then. But the economics of running a company is not as simple as they appear. Or are they? Just because a gaming company is proliferous for example, does not necessarily mean it is reaping in the profits. Or does it?
These are interesting questions to ponder. But why not go for some facts? Better yet, let’s have ourselves a little look and see which are the most valuable game development companies around. Will it be the biggest developers on the scene or some hidden gem? Only a little research will tell.
The biggest grossing games of all times, period
The literal title of this quest was the most valuable game development companies and not a gambling or casino games per se. Hence we shall begin here.
Gaming companies, as you likely know, do some very big business. Many have come and gone, while others have managed to reinvent themselves over time, always introducing new products and technologies to keep the next generations engaged. Need some convincing on that front?
Let’s start with the highest net worth of video game franchises, ever. Amazingly, coming in at number one is Pokémon from Nintendo which has $90 billion in lifetime revenue as of 2019. Next, at less than a third of Pokémon’s lifetime income comes Call of Duty (if you can recall that game), originally brought to us in 2003 by Activision, and having accumulated some $17 billion by 2018. And finally, closing the top three list at the time of writing we’ve got another Nintendo giant, and that is Super Mario, which has reached close to the $16 billion range.
Most valuable gaming companies outside of gambling
Before we go any further, this is a good time to make a bit of a disclaimer. And that is, that the value of gaming companies can fluctuate over time. So while one is huge today, it could potentially be a distant memory tomorrow. Also keep in mind, that the research we have conducted for this article was done at a particular moment in time. That is, it may be subject to change. That being said, since the biggest earning companies have amassed rather large fortunes over time, it is unlikely that this list will fluctuate to such a dramatic extent, anytime soon. So let’s see, how do the general gaming companies rank here?
It is possible you have never heard the name Tencent, but this Chinese company is massive in the gaming world thanks to being the mothership behind the very popular League of Legends game. This, of course, is only part of its domain. Tencent has a huge number of assets under its belt ranging across just about every industry from ecommerce, to movie ticketing, food delivery, and music production. It even has a (rather large) finger in Snapchat and the Lego Group. But while its interests vary, it did earn a large part of its fortune not from the selling of League of Legends, but from the MANY micro transactions processed by players of this exceptionally popular game. And games and related software continue to be at the core of this company, which has reached the $500 billion valuation mark.
You likely wouldn’t think of Apple as a gaming developer. And you would sort of be right as the company doesn’t really produce games. But what it does is provide gaming platforms – like your iPhone or iPad where you can play mobile games, as well as the exceptionally popular App Store which has fuelled mobile gaming’s spread and popularity. Think how many games are downloaded from there at a fee, with a commission to Apple, and Apple ranks in as a top game development company with a net worth of some $365 billion in assets as of 2018, and a net income of $59.5 billion in that same year.
Another extremely valuable gaming company you wouldn’t think of as such right off the bat is Microsoft. That’s because to most of us, Microsoft is more about its PCs and Office software. But Microsoft is also the inventor of the Xbox console, and later Xbox Live, one of the preferred gaming mechanisms to this day. So while gaming is only part of its business, you could certainly rethink your labeling of Microsoft to one of a game developer. As for the company’s worth? In 2019 it listed assets at a total value of $286.55 billion, revenue of $125.8 billion, and net income of $39.2 billion. Not bad really.
And then, of course, there is Sony, the developers of the Sony Playstation and all the gaming joy that it brings. While Sony is still strong in the realms of audio equipment and other types of electronics, Playstation has helped solidify the company’s standing in the gaming industry, making it a truly central figure. As for worth, in 2019 Sony had total assets valued at ¥20.981 trillion, the revenue of ¥8.665 trillion, and total equity of ¥3.746 trillion.
Most valuable casino game development companies
Gaming, as we are quickly working out here, is a vast world. And the owners of the most profitable game development companies outside of gambling, are not even companies that most of us would automatically think of as game developers. But once we move into the realm of casino games, things become a little more obvious and clear, particularly to those of us who are familiar with the world of casino gambling. So which are the most valuable casino game development companies? At the moment, these seem to be the top five.
This is a company that has undergone a few transitions. But it has always been big in the game development space. First of all, International Game Technology, the company’s namesake was the biggest pokies developer of its time and continues to reign supreme in the offline pokies world. This is particularly true in the US and more specifically in the company’s hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada, where its top titles continue to be a massive draw. In 2015 International Game Technology was acquired by Gtech in a massive acquisition, and the entire entity has since been rebranded simply as IGT.
Some of IGT’s most popular pokies games include those based on popular television game show programs – like Wheel of Fortune, The Price is Right, and even the Newlywed Game. It is also really well-known for its massively paying Megabucks progressive jackpot machine.
The company also owns the online gaming supplier Wagerworks, which has a rich assortment of online pokies and table games in its repertories and runs a number of online casino sites as well. All of that combines to make IGT one of the most valuable game development companies working in the industry today. The most recent numbers we were able to confirm in terms of worth were net revenue of $4.69 billion, net income of $56 million, total assets of $15.11 billion, and total equity of $3.36 billion.
Next up on our most valuable game developers list, we have none other than Microgaming. Microgaming is not only a current powerhouse in the gambling development sphere, but also the originator of it all in 1994 when it was the first online casino software company to launch (i.e. bring us) online casino games. After that, it followed suit with the first truly mobile casino software.
Since then, the company has not slowed down in terms of the pace of its development efforts. The opposite in fact. Microgaming continues to churn out new titles and functionality at a pretty incredible rate. This hardcore effort and dedication, however, have paid off, and Microgaming remains one of the biggest development companies around providing software to more than 400 online gaming sites. Basically, if you have ever played at an online casino, you have most certainly encountered Microgaming software, it is that widespread.
As for its offering, Microgaming has hundreds of games from which to choose. Of course, the Mega Moolah progressive jackpot pokies game has continually been amongst the most popular worldwide. But there are plenty of equally compelling titles across the pokies and table game domains.
In addition to casino products, Microgaming also develops bingo, land-based, live-dealer, multi-player, poker, and sportsbook games, as well as the supporting technology. All that being said, as Microgaming is a privately held company, it is less simple to ascertain its net worth and the value of its assets. But it is well within reason to assume it is one of the higher valued casino developers on the market.
Founded in 1999, Playtech has spent the past two decades (plus) on pretty much a straight trajectory of growth. In addition to gaming software development for online casinos, online sports betting sites, online bingo games, and online poker rooms, Playtech also has a range of scratch card games, live dealer games, mobile games, and fixed-odds arcade games within its repertoire. Plus, it is a licensor to some of the biggest betting sites around including William Hill, Ladbrokes, and Bet365.
In addition to its own development efforts, Playtech has made a number of major acquisitions over the years like Aristocrat Lotteries in 2014, YoYo Games in 2015, both Quickspin and Best Gaming Technology in 2016, and 70.6% of Snaitec an Italian betting and gaming firm in 2018. It has also held a very lucrative licensing contract with Warner Bros since February 2017, giving the company access to its very popular line of DC Comic games.
A publicly traded company, Playtech is currently listed on the London Stock Exchange and the FTSE 250 Index. In 2018 its revenues were listed at €1,240.4 million, operating income at €238.1 million, and net income at €129.8 million.
Another big player, i.e. valuable game development company, is none other than NetEntertainment. Better known to most of us simply as NetEnt, this gaming software developer from Sweden has been in business since 1996. It now predominantly provides browser-based gambling software for online casinos and sports betting operations, mainly, though not exclusively with a focus on European markets (hence we certainly find NetEnt here).
Also a publically traded company, NetEnt’s share prices took a serious dip the past few years, but have since made a climb back up. With solid technology and strong fanfare behind its games, many analysts believe NetEnt has a strong future ahead, and may even make a decent investment, though we can’t vouch for that.
The Stars Group
The final, though certainly not last on a long list of valuable game development companies we’ve chosen The Stars Group. While you likely haven’t seen any Stars Group games listed at an online casino, rest-assured this is a serious gaming powerhouse. Formerly known as Amaya, which you’ve certainly heard of, The Stars Group also owns a long list of some of the strongest online poker sites out there including PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, as well as PokerStars Casino, Sky Betting & Gaming, and more.
Adding to that in May 2019, the company formed a 25-year partnership with Fox Sports, to jointly launch Fox Bet. The goal is to create a real-money sports gambling business in the US – that is in the states where it is legal of course! This needless to say is expected to further ramp up business and solidify The Stars Group’s standing as one of the most valuable gaming companies around.
As for its current financials? In 2017 the company had $1.3 billion in revenue if that’s any kind of indicator to you.
A few final words on valuable gaming companies
While all of the companies that we have chosen to profile are indeed very valuable game development companies, and certainly amongst the biggest, there are no doubt other contenders.
Gaming is only getting more popular with time, as the internet spreads even more, and mobile technology continues to dominate. This means gaming is a fast growing domain with a huge amount of potential both for the older more established game developers, as well as newbies with ingenuity, interesting ideas, and awesome technology to offer. And that, in turn, means the scales can certainly shift, though we imagine these big guys will be around for quite some time.