The mobile games revenue worldwide in 2017 exceeded 40 billion dollars, and in the last years US gamers were found to play an average of 3.6 mobile games per month or 1.3 games on a daily basis. Researchers expect that in 2018 the penetration of mobile gaming in the United States will attain 60 percent, and for 2020 the projected growth is to 63.7 percent.
These statistics show that mobile gaming is one of the most lucrative business fields these days, and with the right team of developers and graphic artists, you can conquer the world and Google Play tops, and make nice money in the process.
So there are some huge companies behind the addictive games everyone has installed on their smartphones, and the biggest players are known to make more than $1 billion in revenue from individual games. Keep on reading to discover the companies that make billions in revenue from mobile games and launch some of the most popular titles every year:
Machine Zone, Inc. (MZ)
This technology company was founded in 2008 in Palo Alto, California, and produces MMO strategy games for mobile such as Mobile Strike and Game of War: Fire Age. Both titles mentioned before have ranked among the 10 highest-grossing mobile games.
The company was actually called Addmired until 2012, when it changed its name after obtaining $8 million in funding from Menlo Ventures. Further, the company went through a rebranding process in 2016 and since then it has been referred to as MZ.
The mobile games produced by MZ generate annual sales of $1 billion and the company’s marketing has been highly-effective. MZ has relied in the past on celebrities like Kate Upton, Mariah Carey, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, but has recently switched to a different approach, featuring in its promotional materials “real life people”. In 2016, MZ succeeded to deliver the most viewed advert on YouTube, its SuperBowl ad for Mobile Strike starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Pretty impressive business, don’t you think?
The Internet may be censored in China, but this doesn’t mean that the world’s largest country by population is not in the online business. NetEase, headquartered in Beijing and employing 13,000 people, made a huge advance in 2016 after releasing 40 mobile games in one year – its revenues grew by 60% to $4 billion, making it the top grossing mobile games company in the world in October 2016. Many of these games are dedicated to the Asian market, and include Onmyoji, Ghost, and Fantasy Westward Journey.
The company was founded in 1997 and has also invested in search engine technology and MMORPGs. The founder and CEO of NetEase, Ding Lei, was at some point the richest man in China, and in 2013 his estimated fortune was of $4.2 billion. We can only imagine his financial situation has only improved since then.
Another giant from China, Tencent is specialized in a variety of Internet-related services and products, including AI, technology, and entertainment. It is the world’s biggest investment corporation and is also considered “the largest and most valuable gaming and social media company in the world”. Tencent had a market value of US$580 billion in January 2018 and its subsidiaries and associates activate in a variety of fields, from robotics to food delivery and from space technology to real estate.
Tencent was founded in 1998 and incorporated in the Cayman Islands and two decades later it launched its first unmanned shop in Shanghai, before Amazon had the chance to do it. Tencent’s leading game is King of Glory, a mobile MOBA game with Chinese historical characters. Other notable games from Tencent are Arena of Valor, CrossFire, League of Legends, Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, and Fortnite.
Niantic is best known for developing augmented reality mobile games Pokémon Go and Ingress and is based in San Francisco. It was founded in 2010 as an internal startup within Google and took its name from whaling vessel Niantic which came to San Francisco during the California Gold Rush in the 1800s; the vessel on its turn was named after the Niantic people, a native tribe from the New England area.
Niantic became an independent company in 2015, and during the spinout process it was announced that the company and its products were going to be supported by an investment up to $30 million made by Google, Nintendo, and The Pokémon Company. Its first product was launched in 2012 – Field Trip, a location-based mobile app allowing users to discover surprising things in their environment. Its biggest success is Pokémon Go, in spite of public criticism and some technical issues. The game is considered a very enjoyable experience and a critic declared that “the very personal nature of catching Pokémon in your own neighborhood made me smile more than any game has for years”.
In November 2017, Niantic announced a new game, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, which is supposed to enable players to “explore real-world neighbourhoods and cities to discover mysterious artifacts, learn to cast spells, and encounter legendary beasts and iconic characters along the way”.
The last entry in our list is a mobile game development-only company based in Helsinki, Finland. It started with a browser game called Gunshine.net and switched to releasing only mobile games, four titles so far: Hay Day, Clash of Clans, Boom Beach, and Clash Royale. The company, called Supercell, registered sales of $2.3 billion in 2016 and is now majority owned by Chinese tech firm Tencent, previously mentioned in this article. 84.3% of Supercell was acquired by Tencent with $8.6 million in June 2016.
What makes this company different from others must be its ability to maintain its games popular for a long period of time and to bring something new to the mobile games world with every new title. Its business model is also particular – for instance it has only 180 employees compared to its biggest rival King, which has 1,400 employees, and is a flat organization with no middle management.
These facts about mobile games companies are food for thought, regardless from what perspective you look at their operations – either as a mobile game player or as a developer or anyone involved in the mobile games industry.