The Top 5 Biggest Video Game Companies in the World
In this article, I will analyze the five biggest video game companies in the world based on the quantity of developed and published games, rather than more subjective qualities. They are not organized in any particular order, as each company has greatly influenced the video game industry in their own way.
So, which game creators are at the top of video game development and publishing? Read on and find out!
Sega Games Co., Ltd., or SEGA, can be recognized by their official mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog—even by people who have never played one of his games. SEGA was a forerunner in the console wars until the year 2002—when they ceased production of their SEGA Dreamcast and decided to fully dedicate themselves to game development and publishing. This business decision was brought about as a result of the Dreamcast's poor reception, and an ever-increasingly competitive console war.
- Sonic the Hedgehog: This is probably SEGA's most iconic franchise. It started out as a side-scrolling platformer where you had to guide Sonic through different environments, using his supersonic speed (hence his name) to clear obstacles and reach the end of the level, all the while avoiding death by falling into a bottomless pit or getting hit while you have no Rings in your possession.
- Phantasy Star: This is a well-known franchise that consists mainly of RPGs, although more modern iterations of the franchise are action RPGs with an online and offline component.
- Virtua Fighter: Another long-standing video game franchise by SEGA. This one, as the name suggests, is a fighting game series. It has been around for the better part of two decades.
SEGA was also a participant in the console war until 2002. These are all of the company's consoles:
- SEGA Master System (1986)
- SEGA Genesis (1989)
- SEGA Game Gear (1990)
- SEGA Saturn (1995)
- SEGA Dreamcast (1999)
SEGA was a victim of bad timing. While their video game consoles were well-made with good game libraries, they could just not compete against the rising success of Nintendo—followed by Sony and Microsoft.
Konami is a Japanese video game publisher and developer company. Their games span multiple genres, with diverse titles such as the stealth action Metal Gear series and the zany platformer, Frogger.
- Metal Gear: This series, which has seen many iterations, started as a humble stealth game in the year 1987 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. You usually take the role of Solid Snake as he's tasked to infiltrate one facility or another to complete crucial mission objectives.
- Castlevania: This is another series that has persevered through several consoles. It originally started as a side-scrolling platformer game that included diverse weaponry, and eventually evolved into a 3D action RPG.
- Silent Hill: This survival-horror series was so popular that it inspired a movie adaptation. Like most offerings of this genre, Silent Hill forces you to conserve your items and solve puzzles, rather than force you to mindlessly hack and slash through areas.
Branching out to Card Games
Yu-Gi-Oh! is another franchise that Konami has published, and I have given it its own little section for two reasons:
- It's one of my favorite trading card games.
- It's an example of a video game company branching out in bold directions.
Much like how SEGA dabbled in arcade machines games to appease a niche fanbase, Konami branched out to the trading card game industry. While Yu-Gi-Oh! is a trading card game, not all of the franchise's video games follow the same rules. Perhaps the biggest deviation for this series is The Falsebound Kingdom for the Nintendo GameCube, which was a real-time strategy game with turn-based battles. It had nothing to do with cards at all.
Nintendo claims ownership of some of the most influential video game series of all time. Who hasn't heard of Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, or Metroid?
I daresay that the only negative things you could validly say about this company is that they're reticent to explore new IPs, and their general resistance to third-party development on their video game consoles. The latter is changing, and I sure hope the former is as well.
They are also a strong contender in the ever raging console war, and the only company to have released a console in every single video game generation after the third. To the right, I will list every single console Nintendo has ever created (without a description, mind you, as there are a lot!)
Although I already mentioned the three most influential Nintendo franchises above, scroll down for some more info on each one.
- Super Mario: Nintendo's iconic mascot and resident Mushroom Kingdom plumber has been a participant of more games than I dare to even attempt to count. He started his virtual career as "Jumpman" in the very first Donkey Kong game (that one classic where you have to reach the top of the level and rescue that woman). However, the first game where he was officially dubbed "Mario" was Super Mario Bros., a simple platformer that had you going from left to right to complete levels.
- The Legend of Zelda: This franchise single-handedly brought action-adventure games into the spotlight. It started humbly enough as a counterpoint to the Mario series. It was a non-linear game that awarded careful exploration and problem-solving skills. In addition, there was no time limit to get stuff done, so you could take your time and truly savor the experience.
- Metroid: In this popular Nintendo series, you play as Samus Aran, a bounty hunter that goes on missions to right wrongs committed against her in times long past. The "Metroid" itself is a species of artificial lifeforms that are usually used as weapons. This franchise started out as a platformer with the use of ingenious weapons and gimmicks and has recently evolved into a first-person shooter.
As mentioned above, they are one of the main contenders in the console war, and definitely the longest-lived. Here's a full list of all of Nintendo's consoles:
- Nintendo Entertainment System (1983)
- Super Nintendo Entertainment System (1990)
- Nintendo 64 (1996)
- Nintendo GameCube (2001)
- Nintendo Wii (2006)
- Nintendo Wii U (2012)
- Nintendo Switch (2017)
4. Electronic Arts
The fourth biggest video game company in terms of games published and developed also happens to be the number one publisher in the Western world. Electronic Arts, or "EA," has been a member of the video game industry for well over twenty years now. One of the first games I ever played (4D Boxing) was published by this video game company. Although they are one of the most successful companies around, they are not immune to controversy.
- Wing Commander: This space simulation video game series has you in the cockpit of a variety of different spaceships as you complete various missions. There is a wide variety of ships in each game, and they all perform differently. For example, in one mission you may be flying a bomber (which is slow but powerful) and in another, you may be flying a fighter ship (quicker but also less deadly).
- SimCity: This city-building simulation video game series would later go on to spawn mainstream sensation The Sims. For those of you who have never played SimCity but have played The Sims, think of it as having to build a city instead of having to take care of its citizens.
- Need for Speed: This is the most successful racing video game series in the world. It started as just another racing game where you get from start to finish in a pre-determined track as fast as possible and has become a street racing game where you explore a city and find NPCs to race against.
A Dash of Controversy
Electronic Arts is far from immune to controversy. In fact, they are considered one of the most hated video game companies in the industry. Here are just a few of the hiccups this illustrious publisher has had:
- After seeing their football market share affected by a competing SEGA game in 2004, they signed exclusive licenses with the NFL, for 15 years. This could be considered as anti-competitive conduct as they are monopolizing an intellectual property.
- They went on a very aggressive video game company acquiring spree, which led people to remark that Electronic Arts was trying to monopolize and milk the market. The fact that games developed by companies after being acquired by Electronic Arts tended to be worse than before the acquisition probably didn't help matters any.
- Most recently, they have adopted the industry standards of having a Digital Rights Management (DRM for short) server that forces you to play online at all times, even if it is a single-player game. What's worse is that Origin (the name of the DRM server) has an incredibly sketchy End User License Agreement. I leave the research of Origin's EULA as an exercise to the reader.
Ubisoft Entertainment, or just "Ubisoft" for short, is the fifth-biggest video game company in the world, and closes my list. They are a French-owned video game developer and publisher that has released many game series throughout their rich history. Recently, they acquired the rights to the Might and Magic franchise (which also includes the turn-based strategy spinoff, Heroes of Might and Magic).
- Rayman: This is Ubisoft's quintessential platformer video game. Over the years it has evolved several times, from 2D platformer to 3D platformer to a collection of minigames optimized for the Nintendo Wii. You can say what you will about Rayman, but he is sure is memorable.
- Tom Clancy: This is a long-lived franchise that is further divided into several main series. Perhaps the most memorable series of this video game franchise is Splinter Cell, which is an extremely realistic stealth action game. While you do have ready access to weaponry, it's rarely a good idea to actually use it.
- Assassin's Creed: As far as video game franchises go, this one is actually pretty recent. However, it has quickly garnered an astounding amount of fans, with its action-based game-play tinged with just the right dose of stealth (in other words, much less than that required of the player in the Splinter Cell series).
Uplay: Ubisoft's DRM Server
Like Electronic Arts, Ubisoft also has its own DRM Server called "Uplay." While not all games that run with Uplay require you to stay online, they all do require you to be logged in when you start up the game itself. Having purchased a copy of Heroes of Might and Magic 6, I can tell you that it is currently more annoying than it needs to be. It does get bonus points for not being nearly as obnoxious as Origin is.
Uplay has been met with more than a bit of controversy, but Origin and it represent the way of the future if triple-A video game companies get their way. I could go on a rant that it's more about profit maximization than anti-piracy, but that's a subject best left for another time.
Which is your favorite video game company?
Voice Your Thoughts!
There you have it—the top five biggest video game companies in the world.
Feel free to voice out about these companies (or any other video game companies) in the comments section!
Until the next time, take care and have fun!