Before game gets into the hand of players, it has to be developed and released by some studio, and put on the shelfes in shops, or as it started to be more common in XXI century, be released in digital form on website with game keys, or at some platform where we can buy game directly from developer. Let’s look closer at countries and companies that earns the most, thanks to their products.
According to report of game market issued by Newzoo, China takes first place when it comes to earnings from games, with 50 billions dollars.
Second place takes USA, with 47 billions dollars of earnings. Very interesting are player audience, on which developers from those two countries are focused towards. China has huge customer base with more than 700 millions of people, while USA has 3 times less customers, and let’s keep in mind, that those two countries have only 3 billions difference in earnings. Third place belongs to Japan with 22 billions of earnings and customer base of 78 millions players. In this article we will talk about biggest game developers from those three countries and their most know products.
Biggest game developers in China
If we want to talk with our friends, or want to show our knowledge about sales and games developed in China, only two studios really matter on that market.
Those game developers are: Tencent and NetEase. Of course there are smaller studios in China, but those are only making small indie games, not big AAA productions. Those two developers can be surely called “Molochs”, because on their national market they are making more than 80% of total earnings in China gaming industry, and almost 70% in mobile games industry.
When talking about Tencent, one game must be talked about in particular, that game being “League of Legends”. China giant took over this production which let emloyees feel more safe about their future in this industry, it also gave constant flow of money for incoming projects, and organizing any kind of LoL related events. “League of Legends” can be called “goose laying golden eggs”, because last year this game earned almost 2 billions dollars, and it is predicted that earnings will get only bigger in years to come.
Tencent is great example, that answering player demands and providing different types of entertainments is key to the success. Almost everyone heard about “Fortnite”, battle-royale type of game, created in animated style, where we can see characters from many different universes such as: Marvel, DC, Naruto and many more. Tencent owns studio responsible for this title. Worth to mentions is that Tencent isn’t resting on laurels, in fact they do total opposite, they are constantly investing in companies they took over. We can watch interesting changes in the Epic Games. It set out goal to catch up to American “Steam” belonging to Valve, considered as ideal platform where players can see and play all of their games.
Players for sure know or at least heard about “PUBG” (PlayerUnkown’sBattlegrounds). Battle royale genre, which can be said that at first, it was just a mod to the game “ARMA 2”, just for possiblity for developers to make their own iterations of that game. But without a doubt it was mod for “ARMA 2” that started hype for the battle royale games. Company Tencent, is great at reacting to changes in industry of computer games. In their own market they become, producent of “PUBG”. For chinese company this game is constant source of income, and players never stop to join this game, in fact its total opposite. We can observe that more new players join this game, thanks to model F2P. Popularity of mobile games is taken into account by Tencon, and they are working day and night at developing mobile games in the climate of “PUBG”.
Second giant of Asian market is NetEase, and while name alone may not tell you a lot, titles like Diablo, Overwatch or Hearthstone are known to the players in world. Just like it is with big companies, not every production comes from their family company. To be able to polish and further develop their products, giving enterntainment on highest quality some cooperations must be made, that gives needed money to exists in the industry.
Squares, blocks and many different types of cubes may make players think of, almost iconic, production – Minecraft which game type of “Sandbox”, in Poland called “Piaskownicą”. It’s perfect description for this game genre. When we create new world, we don’t have any tutorial or guide that will lead us, and that’s great! Players will have to discover game for themselves, how to make tools or extract specific resources, or how to tame animal met in forest. Game is not limiting player in any aspect, but it also don’t have any story. Sitting in front of monitor we can do whatever we want, however we want and how long we want. When in 2016 company started cooperation with Mojang Studios, goal was to introduce product to the chinese market. Game already stole hearts of players in the West, and earned reputation of game you can always come back to for unforgetable memories, no matter if it is single player mode or mutliplayer with your friends to share this amazing universe. Game become bestseller giving great profits to NetEase. Up until may of 2020 in China Minecraft had above 400 millions registered players.
We should also take a look, at what happened to liked and popular at time game – Diablo that was done by Blizzard Entertainment. After starting cooperation in 2009 with NetEase, Chinese players could get really great titles such as, World of Warcraft that stole hearts of fans thanks to unique story and style of MMORPG, which raised this title to higher level. For sure known is also little less intense game, from card games genre called Heartstone, where we duel with cards. China got access to great titles which are constantly supported and polished to provide highest quality of enterntainment to the players, but just as it is in life, everything must come to end.
Then year 2018 came, and Blizzard announced that, in cooperation with NetEase they will begin work on Diablo mobile game. Mobile game market in China is more developed than Wester one market that prefers games for PC or laptops. Fans of this game series during conferention in 2018 clearly stated their distaste in the plans of studio, to make their favourite PC game developing into mobile way. Players mostly complained about monetisation, according to them it was bad choice for this game universum, and for the way character is developing to complete more and more demanding tasks. Despite prepiere 2 April of 2022, production very fast got the worst revievs for game done by Blizzard. In the popular along players platform, Metacritic, some players paid for this game to support Blizzard, thanks to which 2 weeks from the premiere game already earned 20 millions dollars from micro-transactions alone. At the end of July, the earnings were more than 100 millions dollars.As we can see, even while many number of players complained about micro-transactions, studio managed to earn thanks to that, and according to report by Activision Blizzard, every second person that played in “Diablo Immortal” never played other games from Diablo series. It can be said that it is huge success, because it’s known that gaining new client is very important for company, because, thanks to this they can spread their product to wider field of audience and finally earn more to upgrade their current and future events.
Biggest game developers in USA
Another country in which games have increasing public is USA. Gigants on this markets are companies like: Microsoft Corporation, Activision Blizzard Inc. or even Electronic Arts with their well known game, Fifa.
Sometimes, when we wanted to play some games when were still were kids, we would tell our parents that games teach and entertain both, this idea was raised to higher level by Microsoft with their game series “Age of Empires”, historic real-time strategy game, in short called RTS. Goal of player was developing their own empire, learning alongside history of tribes or great kingdoms, about which we can read articles or texts in the history books. Even if type itself and climat of game can seem as narrowly focused, studio managed to sell total 25 millions of copies and earn billion dollars from this series.
American developer also released very popular game that many can remember from their childhood “Fable”. Whole series was kept in the climate of fabular adventure game, during which we were controlling Hero Brightwall and we had to make choices, if we want to rebuild certain town districts in the strategic context before incoming war or do we want to provide shelfter for homeless on the area of our castle. Game was putting huge focus on morality system, which in game was shown in the “good and evil” meter, where we gets good or evil points for doing certain actions, such as helping newly met person, or refusing to help them.
Each player that played FPS game (first-person shooter), for sure heard about Call of Duty. Thanks to studio Activision players got hundrets if not thousunds of hours in this game with great climat, and what’s the most impressing is that with every new game, Activision was raising standards higher and higher. Whole Call of Duty series stands out from other games, thanks to iconic characters that we met in the first games, and which we can hear in the newer games up till this day. It can be said that “CoD” is Magnum Opus of the Activision, because since its beginning it earned more than 30 billions dollars by selling 400 millions copies of games.
Moving on to lesser successes of studio, we can’t not talk about Destiny, which was started by legendary studio Bungie and released by Activision, up till this day this game holds faithfull number of fans. Released in 2014 first Destiny wasn’t avaible for PC community because it was so called “Exclusive” released only for Xbox and PlayStation consoles. Players had to wait 3 years until 2017 to be able to play Destiny 2. Studio announced that they won’t be working on third part, but constantly developing second game, adding new content through DLC.
Electronics Arts, mostly known for their series of Fifa games, with new game every year. In those game we control football players from teams from all over world, that are known for everyone that played football computer games or interested in sport itself. Ea awared of action they take every year with releasing of new Fifa game, stated themselves that it is more profitable for them, because with low costs they can gain high earnings every year. Until this day this studio managed to sell over 300 millions copies of their games and earn more than 20 billions dollars on series which every years is basically only upgraded with graphics and football players in teams.
Many players may know this studio from totally different series, more intense, set in the military climate. We talking of course, about game series Battlefield, which is common topic of argument wheater Battlefield or Call of Duty is more realistic. Game were simiar to each other in gameplay but had some small details and aspects that were making them different from each other. We can see now how developers of both games want to put more details to those aspects, instead of erasing them, goal is to make their games even more different. It’s great action thanks to which player gets two games from same genre but their gameplay is vastly different, both in intensity and tempo of gamepley. Battlefield sold 88 millions copies and almost 3 billions of earnings.
Biggest game developers in Japan
Third country is Japan from which we get games such like, Mario, whole series of Dark Souls or recently released Elden Ring from studio From Software. Japanese even though having third place in the ranking, gave community great productions, that are praised and nominated for rewards that they get up till this day, are great example of how games should look like. Most known studios like Nintendo, Sony Interactive Entertainment and even mentioned a while ago From Software, in the recent years gave players world-class games that are leading in the matter of quality and their promo materials.
Competition for PC games - video game consoles
Nintendo is know for games that players are nostalgic about, and they come back to them all the time. Game series about Mario are known in the whole world, and character of title hero, plumber in red shirt and cap, with blue pants on braces, is something that rooted itself in the pop-culture. Players got many adaptations in which we can see our Italian, who tries to save Peach princess from the hands of Bowser, who is villain of the series. We can also be part of go-karts races with our little plumber, who will be acompanied by his brother Luigi or other character we have seen in other Mario games. Whole series of games was sold in the over 750 millions copies, making it the best selling game of all times, and it’s worth to mention that Super Mario alone was sold in the 400 millions copies.
Japanese are also responsible for many new portable or stationary consoles to the market, with most known of them all being, of course, Nintendo Switch. This portable console, quite big for portable device, allows us to play our favourite games from the any place in the earth. Let’s don’t forget about Wii, that at some point was meant to be one of the most innovative consolses due to wireless possibilities, playing without using cable controller. It is also worth to mark that during introduction of Nintendo Switch to the market, studio released exclusive Zelda game “The Legend of Zeld: Breath of The Wild”, that very fast stole hearts of fans, and brought many new people to this series, which increased sales of newest console. Climate of being noble knight with mission to save princess from forces of darkness, is with us through whole gameplay, set for hundres of hours to play.
Whole game series of Legend of Zelda was sold in more than 120 millions copies with earnings over 3 billions of dollars, from almost 30 million sales belong to the newest Legend of Zelda game, making it the most popular game of whole series.
Another studio providing unfortable story and game experiances is Sony Interactive, that is developer of games like God of War, which got title “Game of The Year” thanks to good plot and gameplay that was praised by players. Even though game was exclusive to the consoles, it got own release for PC. Best selling version of game from 2018 was sold in almost 20 million copies, earning 500 millions from single production. Average ratings of game is between 9 and 10 according to ratings, in which many aspects are taken into consideration such as, gameplay, story, characters and even soundtrack.
While we are at topic of great story that bough our hearts, we can’t forget about “Detroit: Become Human”. Game itself is some sort of interactive movie with us making choices in name of character we currently controlling. Plot is set in the future, where humanity managed to invent sentient AI, and create androids that were supposed to serve humanity. Just like in the Terminator 3, androids are aware of what they are, in what world they exists and they demand their own rights and acknowledgement. Of course androids in game are less violent than movie ones, but they know what violence is. We can see moments where androids shows us their morality. Of course it is morality of person steering them, because he makes the choices during gameplay, but it is motif through the whole game – morality and choices. It is individual production, that could get continuation given the fact that topic of AI is being more mainstream those days, as well as it is great tool to show, through gameplay, how that sort of conflict could be seen from both sides. Game was sold in over 7 million copies.
Game series Dark Souls, produced by From Software, is known and liked by people playing it, despite hard mechanics of game. Producers said that, game must be challanging but fair when it comes to fights with enemies we meet during exploration of the world. Popular two words become a meme in gaming community “YOU DIED” showing when health bar reaches 0, become element that is frustrating but at the same time makes us try again. Sold in over 27 million copies, Dark Souls series set some sort of road for games that got their title “Soulslike”, which means that game will have similar mechanics to the Dark Souls, that is fighting with stronger enemies, challanging gameplay, but being able to beat it with right use of mechanics, which gives person playing the game, great satisfaction when they actually beat enemy, according to players on Reddit forums.
Studio is mostly known for producing games of “Soulslike” type, and players are eagerly looking forward, for new and harder challanges from their favourite studio. We also got games like “Sekiro Shadows Die Twice”, which has proved that game of same genre can be released, but with changed rules of game mechanics. At first players didn’t understand those changes and didn’t like them as we can read from first revievs, but with time they learned about them and begin to love Sekiro for those mechanics and their “different” feel than Dark Souls. Game earned title of “Game of The Year” in 2020 and was sold in 5 million copies, earning over 100 million dollars.
We should also mention of successor of Dark Souls series, that players proclaimed game released this year “Elden Ring”. Game from RPG genre and “Soulslike” that was being advertised for long years, already had its fanbase, that was around long before game was released. While we can see many producers promising great quality of their games, here we have perfect example of promise well fulfilled. So long awaited, this game turned out to be bullseye, 15 millon copies of this game were sold with earnings of 7 millions, and with how the things looks like, this number is not going to stop, in fact it will keep increasing.
In this article we have shown biggest markets, in which biggest game developers works in. In recent years they gave us a lot of entertainment and those studios never stop trying newer and better games that will satisfy all players around the world.