Tencent, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo… The big video game players are getting stronger

PARIS: In a global video game market that Accenture estimates is worth more than $300 billion, it is time for consolidation with more players such as Microsoft, Tencent and Sony getting stronger through acquisitions. Review of the forces present.

Tencent, Middle Kingdom

The world’s No. 1, Tencent, rules both in Asia – the most important market in the video game industry – and in the rest of the world thanks to a myriad of investments.

In particular, the Chinese giant owns Riot Games, the publisher of the planetary success “League of Legends”, and very popular mobile games such as “Honor of Kings” and its more than 100 million daily active users or “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” (PUBG).

He also bought the Finnish studio Supercell (“Clash of Clans”, “Clash Royale”, “Brawl Stars”) in 2016 for $8.6 billion. A record at the time.

Tencent also owns shares in Epic Games, the publisher of the phenomenal game “Fortnite” with more than 350 million users to its credit, and in the French Ubisoft (“Assassin’s Creed”, “Far Cry”, “Just Dance” … ), which he recently helped the Guillemot family strengthen their hold on.

Sony and its targeted takeover policy

The Japanese group Sony has sold more than 500 million copies of its Playstation – all models combined – since 1994.

Through its subsidiary Sony Interactive Entertainment, it controls a host of studios (Insomniac, Housemarque…) which have developed exclusive titles for its machines such as the “Spider-Man” saga.

The acquisition in January 2022 of American developer and publisher Bungie (creator of “Halo” – Xbox smash – and “Destiny”) for 3.6 billion dollars strengthened its game portfolio.

Sony also announced in April an investment of 2 billion dollars in Epic Games, made jointly with the parent company of the Danish Lego (up to a billion each), to finance the efforts of the publisher of Fortnite in its development of the “metaverse” .

Microsoft, the bulimic

The American giant Microsoft no longer hesitates to make the funds available: it had thus put on the table in January 68.7 billion dollars to seize Activision Blizzard, the largest acquisition in the history of this industry.

However, this operation, which should allow him to get his hands on major titles such as “World of Warcraft,” “Call of Duty” and “Diablo,” remains subject to approval by competition authorities around the world.

Brussels has just opened an in-depth investigation into this takeover and says it fears its potential consequences for the sector.

The group behind Xbox consoles had already been strengthened with the purchase of the Swedish studio Mojang, creator of “Minecraft”, in 2014 and ZeniMax Media in 2020 (“Elder Scrolls”, “Fallout” …).

Microsoft is also aiming to establish itself as the “Netflix of video games” thanks to Xbox Game Pass, its online platform that just surpassed 25 million subscribers. It allows you to download games to physical media or play them via the cloud.

A market where its major competitors, Sony and Nintendo, have positioned themselves, but also other “Gafam” such as Apple.

Nintendo, priority for “homemade”

With its legendary house sagas such as “Mario”, “Zelda” or “Pok√©mon”, Nintendo stands out from its competitors with its mainstream positioning around its Switch console without participating in acquisition frenzy.

For example, he just bought Canadian Next Level Games in early 2021, a studio that he had already entrusted with several of his brands to develop titles for his machines.

In the financial year 2021/2022, 23 million switches were sold worldwide.

Take-Two, Electronic Arts and the Independents

Although the winds of consolidation have picked up for a while, several leading publishers remain independent and may represent as many targets in the future as the Americans Take-Two and Electronic Arts or the Japanese Square Enix.

Developer, publisher and distributor, Take-Two is a heavyweight with its very popular games such as “Grand Theft Auto”, “NBA 2K” or “Red Dead Redemption”.

It paid $12.7 billion to acquire mobile game developer Zynga, creator of the farming simulation “FarmVille.”

With a turnover of 5.6 billion dollars in 2021, Electronic Arts also has a portfolio of highly recognized licenses such as “Fifa”, “Battlefield”, “Apex Legends”, “The Sims”, “Madden NFL” or “Need for Speed” .

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