List

Top 50 Mobile Game Developers of 2017

Top 50 Mobile Game Developers of 2017

Welcome to PocketGamer.biz's Top 50 developer list for 2017

The eighth edition of the annual PocketGamer.biz Top 50 Developer list reveals an industry truly global in nature.

It also reflects a market buzzing with mergers and acquisitions activity, as companies get snapped up for hundreds of millions, even billions, of dollars. It’s a sector that most definitely continues to grow.

Global stars

There are 16 new entries this year, hailing from all over the world, whether it’s the USA or Europe to the Middle East and Asia. It’s the latter’s growth that’s the most striking.

Asia dominates our list with 20 entries from Japan, China, Singapore and South Korea – that’s four more than in 2016.

The ability of Japanese developers to create hit games that generate millions of dollars a day, and sustain them for years, is not waning, even in a maturing market.

Meanwhile South Korean publishers are smashing records with the Lineage IP.

This year’s list goes to show that studios from anywhere in the world can make it big in mobile.

Even those companies on our list that aren’t from Asia, a number now have a strong Eastern influence whether that’s through IP, investment or a full acquisition.

Hitting the big time

That doesn’t mean Western companies aren’t successful however – far from it.

Big publishers such as Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft and Take-Two have all made significant moves in the market to expand their businesses out from console and PC, and acquire much needed free-to-play expertise.

The USA and Japan are the best represented single countries with 11 entries apiece. Overall, Europe is represented by 15 companies.

This year’s list goes to show that studios from anywhere in the world can make it big in mobile.

Read on to find out more, and visit PocketGamer.biz every day for mobile games industry news.

Note: Our list was compiled during June to August 2017, with additional information added during September 2017.

Click here to view the list »
  • 50 Super Evil Megacorp

    Super Evil Megacorp logo

    HQ : San Francisco, USA
    Sales: Undisclosed
    Headcount: c. 100
    Key staff: Kristian Segerstrale (CEO), Bo Daly (President)
    Key games: Vainglory
    Structure: Privately held
    M&A: Partnerships with Twitch and Amazon (Raised $63 million in funding to date)

    As other, bigger companies have proven, getting into eSports is not easy. But it’s an area where Super Evil continues to grow its flagship game Vainglory.

    A three-year multi-million dollar deal with Twitch and major sponsorship from Amazon Appstore have helped increase its presence and fund its championship events.

    Meanwhile it’s been working with the teams to create its own franchise to both push merchandise sales and advise on tournament structure and metas.

    Recently Vainglory has seen more professional eSports teams begin to take part, and had a major 2.0 update at the end of 2016.

    Super Evil is also developing a 5v5 mode as it seeks to grow the game’s appeal.

    Securing investment

    Much like it has attracted avid fans, the company has also caught the attention of investors. After raising $19 million in August 2017 the studio's total funding received to date stands at $63 million.

    Already a major player in mobile eSports, such backing and continued improvements to Vainglory could in time make it an eSports giant.


  • 49 Gamevil

    Gamevil logo

    HQ: Seoul, South Korea
    Sales: $130 million (2016)
    Headcount: c. 400
    Key staff: James Song (CEO), Kyu Lee (President, USA)
    Key games: Dragon Blaze, Kritika, Dungeon Link, MLB Perfect Inning 15
    Structure: KOSDAQ:063080
    M&A: Has previously acquired small studios to gain talent and will continue to do so

    With RPGs making up almost 80% of Gamevil’s sales, the Korean publisher, which also controls fellow publisher Com2uS of Summoners War fame (a company elsewhere on our list), remains highly focused on hardcore gamers.

    Local comforts

    Titles such as Dragon Blaze and Dungeon Link may be niche but they appeal to the strong South Korean domestic market as well as other Asian countries. The APAC region is Gamevil’s most important market.

    As for the future, the company has high hopes for its new range of PC-inspired MMORPGS, especially Royal Blood, which features high-end graphics, deep storytelling and large scale battles.

    It's also forming even closer ties in Europe with Com2Us with Gamevil Europe becoming a joint venture, which is now known as Gamevil Com2uS Europe.


  • 48 Gameloft

    Gameloft logo

    HQ: Paris, France
    Sales: $73.9 million (Q1 2017)
    Headcount: 6,000
    Key staff: Stéphane Roussel (CEO)
    Key games: Despicable Me: Minion Rush, Asphalt, Modern Combat, Disney Magic Kingdoms
    Structure: Part of Vivendi
    M&A: Now is the time for rebuilding

    2016 was the year everything changed for Gameloft.

    Following the success of Vivendi’s aggressive $800 million takeover, the veteran mobile games company is now part of a French media conglomerate with a strong vision for its future.

    Fresh strategy

    Noting just 20 titles account for 90% of Gameloft’s revenues, part of Vivendi’s approach appears to be ‘less is more’.

    The other is to re-engage with internal creativity: over 90 proposals for new games from Gameloft staff have been received.

    Vivendi is also taking a more rigorous approach to launching games, something already seen with ambitious titles Gangstar New Orleans and Asphalt Street Storm Racing.

    The company is also now harnessing Vivendi-owned IP and working with internal partners on new titles, including the newly announced Paddington Run for mobile devices, based on the upcoming film Paddington 2.


  • 47 Next Games

    Next Games logo

    HQ : Helsinki, Finland
    Sales: $22.6 million (H1 FY17)
    Headcount: 93
    Key staff: Teemu Huuhtanen (CEO), Saara Bergstrom (CMO)
    Key games: The Walking Dead: No Man's Land
    Structure: Floated on NASDAQ First North Finland
    M&A: Acquired Lume Games, secured Blade Runner license

    Next Games had been quietly keeping itself afloat with The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land for around 18 months, but in early 2017 it kicked things into high gear.

    Bold moves

    The small Finnish developer took the decision to go public, leading to an over-subscribed IPO and an eventual valuation of €143.5 million.

    From there it secured the rights to make a game based on Blade Runner 2049, and upped its staff from 24 employees to 93.

    Add to that the acquisition of AR game company Lume Games and the reveal of location-based title The Walking Dead: Our World, and the future seems very bright indeed for Next Games.


  • 46 Disruptor Beam

    Disruptor Beam logo

    HQ: Massachusetts, USA
    Headcount: c. 75
    Key staffJon Radoff (CEO)
    Key gamesThe Walking Dead: March to War, Star Trek Timelines, Game of Thrones Ascent
    Structure: Privately held
    M&A: Raised $11.7 million in investment

    Disruptor Beam specialises in marrying big entertainment brands with mobile gaming to develop narrative-led titles.

    Its releases so far to date include Game of Thrones Ascent (2013), Star Trek Timelines (2016) and The Walking Dead: March to War (2017).

    It’s a portfolio that focuses on quality over quantity, and it’s a strategy that is paying dividends for the studio.

    In 2016, Disruptor Beam grew its revenues by over 300% and doubled its headcount.

    Following an $8.5 million Series B funding round in 2017 (it had previously raised Series A investment of $3.2 million), the Boston-based developer now plans to release a steady stream of games on a more regular basis.


  • 45 Social Point

    Social Point logo

    HQ : Barcelona, Spain
    Sales: Undisclosed (Mobile revenues not broken out by Take-Two), Digital $268.2 million
    Headcount: c. 270
    Key staff: Horacio Martos (co-CEO), Andrés Bou (co-CEO)
    Key games: Dragon City, Monster Legends, World Chef, Dragon Land
    Structure: Owned by Take-Two
    M&A: Acquired by Take-Two for $250 million in 2017

    Barcelona-based developer Social Point may be slow to release new games, but its decision to build up its existing brands has paid off.

    Roaring up the charts

    Dragon City remains a regular top 100 top grosser in the US App Store, while Monster Legends consistently ranks in the US App Store top 150.

    Together, the games have been downloaded more than 180 million times.

    And Social Point looks set to level up its operations in 2017 following Take-Two’s $250 million acquisition of the developer, a matter our Mobile Mavens discussed shortly after the deal was announced.

    The publisher already owns the studios behind BioShock and Grand Theft Auto, and with larger financial backing, there’s no telling where Social Point could go next.


  • 44 Gram Games

    Gram Games logo

    HQ: London, UK
    Sales: Not disclosed
    Headcount: c. 50
    Key staff: Mehmet Ecevit (CEO)
    Key games: Six!, Merged!, 1010!, Merge Dragons!, Merge Town!
    Structure: Privately held
    M&A: Any company partnering or acquiring would have to consider its unique company culture and flat management structure.

    Gram Games has shown no signs of slowing down since 1010! saved the company in 2014.

    Merged! and Six! followed in that tradition of creative, ad-funded puzzlers, bringing the company to over 75 million downloads and allowing it to grow even further.

    Company expansion

    But the biggest development for the Istanbul-founded company in 2016 was the opening of a second studio and new headquarters in London.

    The plan is to expand the new studio to 50 employees by the end of 2017, branching out from casual and into IAP-funded midcore.

    To that end, it recently launched quirky title Merge Dragons!, which is steadily finding itself an audience.

    But it's not stopping there with new games. It's also been busy launching games such as Bounzy! and Merge Town!.

    Outside of the not-so small matter of making games, the company has also been active promoting diversity in the games industry with its 22% Project encouraging more women to get into games.


  • 43 InnoGames

    InnoGames logo

    HQ: Hamburg, Germany
    Sales: €139 million (2016)
    Headcount: 400
    Key staffHendrik Klindworth (CEO)
    Key gamesForge of Empires, Tribal Wars, Tribal Wars 2, Grepolis
    Structure: Majority-owned by Modern Times Group (51%)
    M&A: MTG spent over €130 million to acquire the 51% stake in InnoGames on a valuation of €260 million

    InnoGames has carefully made the transition to mobile from browser in recent times with titles such as Forge of Empires, Tribal Wars 2 and Grepolis.

    Its mobile transition was strengthened with the acquisition of the Funatics team in March 2016.

    Perpetual growth

    The company’s total revenues grew 25% to $139 million last year. And one of its leading titles, Forge of Empires, surpassed $279 million in lifetime revenues in March 2017.

    Such success attracted ESL owner Modern Times Group to secure a 51% stake in the firm in May 2017, valuing the developer at $287 million.

    An exciting future awaits, one bolstered by the acquisition of the Warlords IP from Wooga, which it has big plans for.


  • 42 GREE

    GREE logo

    HQ: Tokyo, Japan
    Sales: $593 million (2017)
    Headcount: c. 3,000
    Key staff: Yoshikazu Tanaka (CEO)
    Key games: Shometsu Toshi, Knights & Dragons, Tower Rising
    Structure: TYO:3632
    M&A: Too big and troubled to be a target

    As with many Japanese mobile game companies, GREE is in a period of domestic consolidation as it attempts to rebuild its financial base following an expensive and failed overseas expansion.

    It all led to the company pulling the plug on its Western operations in 2017.

    Revenues had peaked in 2012, with 2017 revenues coming at $592.7 million for the year, down 6.6% year-on-year. 

    Turnaround

    There are positive signs though as profits were up in Q3 FY17. It hopes to turn the situation around by releasing a blitz of JRPGs, and the early signs are promising. Rara-MAGI and A Farewell to Arms both reached the top 50 grossing charts, while Another Eden also hit the top 10.

    And early signs are that its release blitz and new strategy could be working.

    Another part of GREE’s strategy is early investment in VR, and to that end is partnering up with arcade game developers to work on established IP.


  • 41 Ubisoft

    Ubisoft logo

    HQ: Paris, France
    Sales: Approximately $113.4 million for mobile ($1.62 billion total sales)
    Headcount: c. 10,000
    Key staff: Yves Guillemot (CEO)
    Key games: 2048, Hungry Shark World, Assassin's Creed Identity
    Structure: EPA:UBI
    M&A: Owns Longtail Studios, Future Games of London, Ketchapp and Growtopia. Fending off a takeover from Vivendi, which now owns a quarter of Ubisoft shares.

    With the acquisition of Growtopia in 2017Ketchapp in 2016 and Future Games of London before that, French publisher Ubisoft signalled its mobile gaming intent.

    It’s certainly got the pedigree to make a statement in mobile now. Both studios have an excellent track record with casual mobile hits.

    Chart toppers

    Ketchapp is a persistent name in the weekly download charts, such is its impressively fast output of quality casual hits.

    Recent popular games include Fidget Spinner, Rider and Helix, to name just a few.

    Future Games of London meanwhile had over 486 million downloads worldwide by June 2017.

    Ubisoft has also got in on the action on the Switch, Nintendo's hybrid console/tablet hardware. Its recently launched title Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle has been a critical hit thanks to its unique blend of IP, fun gameplay and quirky humour.

    Mobile still represents a fraction of Ubisoft’s revenues, but we expect to see more, particularly as Ubisoft plots further M&A activity in the space, be that on its own, or under the watchful eye of a circling Vivendi.


  • 40 Seriously

    Seriously logo

    HQ: Helsinki, Finland
    Sales: $65 million+ lifetime revenue from games (March 2017)
    Headcount: c.60
    Key staff: Andrew Stalbow (CEO), Petri Järvilehto (Co-Founder & CCO)
    Key games: Best Fiends, Best Fiends Forever
    Structure: Private, raised $28 million in VC (2015)
    M&A: Unlikely, unless it bought its own influencer network

    Founded in 2013 by a number of former Rovio executives, Finnish developer Seriously set about creating a brand new franchise.

    Its first game was the match-3 game Best Fiends, launch in October 2014, that has set the studio in good stead for the years that followed.

    And so too has the $28 million the developer has raised in funding to date.

    Over the last year Seriously has done what it does best - maintained live ops on Best Fiends and running influencer campaigns, even winning a Best Ad of the Year award from YouTube.

    In 2016 it launched its second title, Best Fiends Forever, which has helped push lifetime revenues for the series to more than $65 million, securing over 60 million downloads.

    The studio is now said to be making as much as $100,000 a day.

    Building on its promise to turn Best Fiends into a multimedia IP, Seriously is developing a third game and has also expanded into animation with shorts like Best Fiends: Boot Camp.


  • 39 Bandai Namco

    Bandai Namco logo

    HQ : Tokyo, Japan
    Sales: $3.42 billion (Network Entertainment segment, which includes mobile)
    Headcount: c. 7,000
    Key staff: Satoshi Oshita (President)
    Key games: Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle, One Piece Treasure Cruise, The iDOLM@ASTER Cindrella Girls: Starlight Stage
    Structure: Floated on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TYO:7832)
    M&A: Actively looking for M&As

    Bandai Namco released a handful of exciting new titles in 2016 – Tap My Katamari and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Blazing to name two – but its older titles still ruled the roost.

    Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle, released in 2015, is one of the company’s key drivers of mobile revenue.

    It's racked up more than 200 million downloads and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. The publisher used the milestone to kick off a ‘Worldwide Campaign Epic Celebration’.

    The company has become a shining example of what a first-in-class approach to in-game events can do for a game’s monetisation and engagement. It’s a case study other developers would be wise to analyse.

    Along with its Japan-only The Idolmaster Cindrella Girls: Starlight Stage, this approach helped push games revenues up to $3.42 billion for its FY17.

    Bandai Namco has more games in the pipeline, including the recently soft-launched Tekken on mobile, which takes cues from Marvel Contest of Champions in bringing the beat 'em up genre to mobile devices.

    Such a well-known IP combined with Bandai Namco's promise of plenty of in-game events, the game could prove to be yet another winner for the publisher.


  • 38 Pixelberry Studios

    Pixelberry Studios logo

    HQ: Mountain View, USA
    Sales: Undiclosed
    Headcount: c. 100
    Key staff: Oliver Miao (CEO)
    Key games: Choices, High School Story, Hollywood U
    Structure: Privately held, no VC cash
    M&A: Potential target thanks to its expertise in niche market

    Pixelberry Studios has been developing and operating narrative-led F2P mobile games since 2013.

    Its debut High School Story was a top 100 top grossing iPhone game in the US. Pixelberry expanded its output with Hollywood U, which offered a celebrity-angled experience.

    Both highlighted issues such as bullying and eating disorders to fulfil the company’s mission of ‘entertaining and educating’.

    Latest release Choices sees Pixelberry expanding its narrative expertise with a range of interactive comic-style stories across romance, fantasy and mystery settings.

    Launched in August 2016, Choices has steadily built its audience, becoming a top 30 grossing US iPhone app.


  • 37 Elex Technology Co. Ltd

    Elex Technology Co. Ltd logo

    HQ: Beijing, China
    Sales: Undisclosed
    Headcount: c. 2,000
    Key staff: Peng Yue (Chief Producer)
    Key games: Clash of Kings
    Structure: Owned by Chinese Universe Publishing & Media
    M&A: N/A

    Clash of Kings, launched in 2014, still often features among Google Play’s top 10 grossing games. It’s also bagged over 50 million downloads on Android alone.

    That’s impressive for any game, and even more so given that Elex is a Chinese company competing in the West.

    To maximise Clash of Kings' potential, Elex sought to take a leaf out of MZ's book (a company also on this list) and brought in the services of German international footballer Bastian Schweinsteiger as the face of its TV ad campaign.

    2016 saw the firm attempt to capitalise on this keen audience with spin-off Clash of Kings: The West – a new series entry with the edges smoothed off.

    Elsewhere, its Western assault is continuing in 2017 with the soft-launched Total War: King’s Return and a partnership with Activision on a brand new Call of Duty mobile game.


  • 36 Zynga

    Zynga logo

    HQ: San Francisco, USA
    Sales:$209.2 million (Q2 2017)
    Headcount: c1.500
    Key staff: Frank Gibeau (CEO), Mark Pincus (Chairman)
    Key games: Zynga Poker, Words with Friends, FarmVille 2, CSR Racing 2, Dawn of Titans
    Structure: NASDAQ: ZYGA
    M&A: Harpan Solitaire games from Harpan LLC for $42.5 million

    It’s been a long turnaround for Zynga, but its focus on forever franchises is helping to steer the ship in the right direction.

    Titles like Zynga Poker and Hit it Rich continue to reel in the money, while Words with Friends remains as popular as ever, recently surpassing 200 million downloads and even spawning a new TV game show.

    2016 still saw the release of new titles with NaturalMotion launching Dawn of Titans and CSR Racing 2.

    The latter in particular has enjoyed significant grossing success across the globe, while Zynga has also signed partnerships with heavyweights Ferrari and Porsche for special cars in the game.

    In 2017, Zynga also forked out a large sum of cash to buy four Solitaire games by little-known developer Harpan LLC for some $42.5 million.

    It’s all helped Zynga’s shares rise to their highest point since mid-2014.

    Things are looking increasingly positive for the publisher under the guidance of CEO Frank Gibeau, who led the company to longawaited profitability in Q2 2017 as it reported profits of $5.1 million.


  • 35 Glu Mobile

    Glu Mobile logo

    HQ: San Francico, USA
    Sales: Est. $200 million (2016), $68.7 million (Q2 2017)
    Headcount: c. 700
    Key staff: Nick Earl (CEO), Niccolo de Masi (Executive Chairman)
    Key games: Restaurant Dash: Gordon Ramsay, Design Home, Covet: Fashion
    Structure: NYSE:GLUU
    M&A: Acquired Crowdstar ($45 million) and Plain Vanilla ($8.7 million)

    The last year has been a particularly interesting one for Glu, with big money acquisitions, serious executive changes and a raft of quality games to boot.

    Recent standout games include Restaurant Dash: Gordon Ramsay, which racked up $23.4 million in bookings in just 10 months, and the excellent MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2017, which is also a top grosser on the US App Store.

    But it wasn’t just about releasing games. Glu also picked up Covet: Fashion dev Crowdstar and its game Design Home, now a flagship title for Glu, alongside QuizUp dev Plain Vanilla.

    Design Home has been such a hit for Glu that it's not been shy in being open about it. The game generated 25.5 million downloads and $41.4 million in bookings by the end of June 2017, less than a year after launch.

    As Glu increases UA spend on the game, its revenue potential could rise yet further as it spearheads Glu's comeback.

    Glu is one to watch for the next year as it goes from strength to strength.


  • 34 DeNA

    DeNA logo

    HQ: Tokyo, Japan
    Sales: $891.5 million (Games segment, FY2017)
    Headcount: c. 2,000
    Key staff: Tomoko Namba (Chairman), Isao Moriyasu (CEO),
    Key games: Granblue Fantasy, Final Fantasy Record Keeper, Miitomo, Fire Emblem Heroes
    Structure: TYO:2432
    M&A: Will Nintendo try to acquire its mobile partner?

    2016 was a transitional year for Japanese outfit DeNA.

    After spending six years and hundreds of millions of dollars, it finally gave up the attempt to make successful games in the West, shutting down its remaining studios in the US and Chile.

    More positively, however, the partnership with Nintendo resulted in social networking app Miitomo, Super Mario Run and (reported $100 million revenue generator) Fire Emblem Heroes.

    The partnership between the two companies has proven fruitful enough for DeNA to dedicate 10% of all its staff to developing Nintendo IP on mobile.

    Along with its other titles, they helped propel forward its FY2017 by a startling 171% to $283 million.

    DeNA’s also looking to release more games in China, while its non-gaming businesses, including Yokohama DeNA BayStars baseball team, are growing.


  • 33 Konami

    Konami logo

    HQ: Tokyo, Japan
    Sales: $926.3 million (Digital Entertainment, FY17)
    Headcount: 4,578 (consolidated)
    Key staff: Takuya Kozuki (President)
    Key games: Power Pro, Jikkyou Powerful Soccer, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links
    Structure: Floated on the London stock exchange (LON:KNM)
    M&A: Inactive in mobile games space

    In September 2015, Konami pivoted to focus on mobile games. And it’s reaped the rewards ever since.

    Its Digital Entertainment Division saw profits grow by 13% to $296.5 million for 2017, despite a drop in revenue.

    Konami’s mobile success has been mostly limited to the lucrative Japan market. Baseball game Power Pro surpassed 32 million downloads and Jikkyou Powerful Soccer got four million in its first two weeks.

    Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links meanwhile has surpassed 45 million downloads.

    Recent mobile release PES 2017 also found success in Japan and has racked up 30 million downloads worldwide.


  • 32 FunPlus

    FunPlus logo

    HQ: Beijing, China
    Sales: Undisclosed
    Headcount: c. 400
    Key staffAndy Zhong (CEO)
    Key gamesKing of Avalon: Dragon Warfare
    Structure: Privately held
    M&A: None

    You may recognise the name FunPlus from browser and mobile titles such as Happy Acres and Family Farm Seaside.

    The popularity of those titles was enough for the firm to secure a $74 million Series B funding round in 2014.

    It hadn’t had a runaway Western mobile success at that point, but that changed in the latter part of 2016.

    The company’s strategy game King of Avalon: Dragon Warfare suddenly shot up the US App Store Top Grossing charts in November 2016 for nearly a week.

    That’s no easy feat for any studio, and the game remains a presence in the top 100 grossing list, proving it wasn’t just a flash in the pan, and that it has strong staying power amongst its army of avid fans.


  • 31 Space Ape Games

    Space Ape Games logo

    HQ: London, UK
    Sales: Undisclosed
    Headcount: 100+
    Key staff: John Earner (CEO), Simon Hade (COO), Toby Moore (CTO)
    Key games: Rival Kingdoms, Transformers Earth Wars, Fastlane: Road to Revenge
    Structure: Privately held
    M&A: Supercell acquired 62% stake for $55.8 million

    Since the start of 2016, Space Ape has only fully launched the Backflip Studios-published Transformers: Earth Wars, and racer Fastlane: Road to Revenge.

    But perhaps more impressive than its new releases is the way the studio handles live ops.

    An in-house tool enables as few as 14 people to handle both Samurai Siege and Rival Kingdoms, which generate enough revenue alone to keep the studio profitable.

    These skills, combined with a restructuring of how it makes games with small teams, attracted Supercell to buy a 62% stake in the studio for $55.8 million.

    A bold new future awaits Space Ape, but one built on strong foundations.


  • 30 ustwo

    ustwo logo

    HQ: London
    Sales: Undisclosed
    Key staffDan Gray (Head of Studio), Peter Pashley (Head of Development)
    Key games: Monument Valley, Monument Valley 2
    Structure: Part of privately held company Ustwo
    M&A: Unlikely

    Aside from some infographics to detail the continued sales of Monument Valley, Ustwo Games had been rather quiet since the launch of its flagship title.

    Then, suddenly, Apple revealed Monument Valley 2 at its WWDC 2017 event, and the world went crazy for mind-bending puzzles once more.

    Players lapped it up. It topped download charts around the world, and managed to hit 51st place on the US top grossing chart.

    It proved that few developers make attractive mobile games quite like Ustwo.

    It's part of a distinct game design philosophy that makes the company unique. Head of Studio Dan Gray says when the developer set out to court the attention of the App Store Editors, the team asked themselves: "If Apple were to make an internal first-party game, what would it look like?". 

    It's not too difficult to think that if Apple did develop its own titles, they would probably look a lot like Ustwo's.

    The studio is keeping its options open for its next release, and it’s also considering becoming a publisher.


  • 29 Flare Games

    Flare Games logo

    HQ: Karlsruhe, Germany
    Sales: Undisclosed
    Headcount: c. 80
    Key staff: Klaas Kersting (Founder & CEO)
    Key games: Nonstop Knight, Nonstop Chuck Norris, Zombie Gunship Survival
    Structure: Private (raised $23.2 million total in VC by 2014)
    M&A: Acquired Kopla Games for an undisclosed sum

    2016 was a turnaround year for German boutique publisher Flaregames, and it’s mainly thanks to Kopla Games’ onethumb adventure Nonstop Knight.

    That game alone tripled the publisher’s revenues and profits and made the company cash-flow positive again – something that excited Flaregames so much that it acquired Kopla almost straight away.

    Flaregames can also thank games like Olympus Rising, Royal Revolt 2 and Fieldrunners Attack! for a strong year, and 2017 has also gone well with the launch of Zombie Gunship Survival and Nonstop Chuck Norris.

    It’s a sure sign that the company’s decision to pivot to publishing has paid off.


  • 28 Playdemic

    Playdemic logo

    HQ: Cheshire, UK
    Sales: Undisclosed (Aiming for $100 million by end of 2017)
    Headcount: 33
    Key staff: Paul Gouge (CEO), Alex Rigby (CCO)
    Key games: Village Life, Golf Clash
    Structure: Subsidiary of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
    M&A: Acquired by TT Games in February 2017 (Which is owned by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)

    UK developer Playdemic was founded back in 2010 in Wilmslow, Cheshire, and worked on games such as Gang Nations, Village Life and Gourmet Ranch.

    But last year the company had its real breakthrough game: the hugely popular and superbly designed Golf Clash. Our IAP Inspector had particularly nice things to say about the title and its clever and soft monetisation design.

    It’s become a hit title around the world, attracting a huge swathe of fans regularly playing the game.

    In July 2017, such is its popularity the title was said to have made more than $1 million in a single day.

    The success of the studio led to Warner Bros-owned TT Games acquiring Playdemic to develop new mobile projects based on the LEGO IP.

    We expect even more exciting new games from the team.


  • 27 Scopely

    Scopely logo

    HQ: Los Angeles, USA
    Sales: Undisclosed ($100 million a year from The Walking Dead: Road to Survival)
    Headcount: c. 250
    Key staff: Walter Driver (CEO)
    Key games: The Walking Dead: Road to Survival, WWE Champions
    Structure: Private, raised $115 million in VC
    M&A: Raised $60 million in VC in 2017, partnership with WWE

    Scopely’s ability to create multiple hits has led the company to some lucrative investment rounds.

    It raised $55 million in funding in 2016, and a further $60 million in June 2017.

    Its title The Walking Dead: Road to Survival surpassed 25 million downloads in September 2016, and the publisher has claimed that it’s currently generating around $100 million a year from the game.

    It recently launched WWE Champions as a top 100 grosser in the US, though it cancelled long-time soft launch game Breaking Bad: Empire Business – perhaps a telling move about Scopely’s high standards.

    It’s currently at work on Temple Run: Treasure Hunters, which could be its next hit.


  • 26 Pocket Gems

    Pocket Gems logo

    HQ: San Francisco, USA
    Sales: Undisclosed (est. $150 million)
    Headcount: c. 220
    Key staff: Ben Liu (CEO), Daniel Terry (CCO & Co-founder), Michael Dawson (Head of Studio, Episode)
    Key games: Episode, War Dragons
    Structure: Private, Tencent owns shares
    M&A: Tencent invested $90 million in 2017

    Pocket Gems has been busy growing its massive hit Episode over the past year and in 2016 – it even spun off a separate studio to handle the game from now on.

    Its Demi Lovato stories scored $13 million in revenue, and the San Francisco-based company sealed potentially lucrative deals with cross-media partners Universal Studios and Warner Horizon.

    But Pocket Gems isn’t just focusing on its celebrity tie-ins, having introduced Writer Payments for its particularly engaged fans.

    And beyond Episode, Pocket Gems is still raking in the cash from 2015 release War Dragons, and the performance of the two games was strong enough to persuade Tencent to pump in another $90 million.

    That came two years after Tencent reportedly spent $60 million for a 20% stake in the company.

    Tencent's interest with its actions speaks volumes about how successful the studio already is and how much bigger yet it could become.


  • 25 Nexon

    Nexon logo

    HQ: Tokyo, Japan
    Sales: $1 billion (First half 2017)
    Headcount: 5,033 (consolidated)
    Key staff: Owen Mahoney (President and CEO)
    Key games: Elsword Mobile, DomiNations, Heroes of Incredible Tales
    Structure: Floated on Tokyo stock exchange (TYO:3659)
    M&A: Acquired the developers behind its published hits Heroes of Incredible Tales (NAT Games) and DomiNations (Big Huge Games) in 2016.

    Heroes of Incredible Tales (HIT) and DomiNations continue to do the business in South Korea, and Nexon consolidated its position by acquiring their respective developers.

    HIT launched globally in July 2016, scoring five million downloads in two months, while DomiNations surpassed $100 million lifetime revenues in 2017.

    Recent release Dynasty Warriors: Unleashed racked up six million downloads by May 2017.

    After consecutive year-on-year revenue declines, Nexon turned it around in Q1 2017 with record revenues of $657 million.

    It was powered by sales of PC game Dungeon Fighter in China, but mobile revenues also shot up 19% year-on-year.

    It was still going strong in Q2 with revenues of $431.7 million for the quarter, up 23% year-on-year.


  • 24 Colopl

    Colopl logo

    HQ: Tokyo, Japan
    Sales: $740 million (FY16)
    Headcount: 800
    Key staff: Naruatsu Baba (CEO)
    Key games: Quiz RPG: The World of Mystic Wiz, White Cat Project
    Structure: Floated on Tokyo stock exchange (TYO:3668)
    M&A: Neither a buyer or seller

    Alongside GungHo Online and Mixi, COLOPL is one of Japan’s most successful developers in terms of profit margin.

    But like those companies, in 2016 COLOPL had to deal with an increasingly competitive domestic market and the failure of its efforts to expand in the West.

    The release of Rune Story, a localised version of its Japanese moneymaker White Cat Project, proved unsuccessful.

    The game has performed better in South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, however.

    So, COLOPL doubled-down on its domestic market, releasing White Cat Tennis, and investing heavily in the nascent virtual reality market.

    It's also partnered with mobile games publisher Animoca Brands to release Tokyo Casino Project worldwide.

    As a result, FY16 sales rose 17% to $740 million.


  • 23 Playrix

    Playrix logo

    HQ: Vologda, Russia
    Sales: Undisclosed
    Headcount: 600
    Key staff: Dmitri Bukhman (Co-founder), Igor Bukhman (Co-founder)
    Key games: Fishdom, Township, Gardenscapes, Homescapes
    Structure: Privately owned
    M&A: Could become an acquisition target

    Russian developer Playrix has quietly become one of the most consistently successful mobile games companies in Europe.

    It’s found regular top grossing success around the world with Fishdom and Township.

    And in 2016 it once again showed it’s not slacking in developing quality games, releasing match-3 title Gardenscapes to win Facebook’s Overall Game of the Year 2016.

    It receives as many as 3.5 million DAUs and it’s become a top 20 grosser on the US App Store… so it’s no wonder Playrix has launched a new title called Homescapes.

    Not just seeking Western fortunes, Playrix has partnered with publisher iDreamSky to bring Gardenscapes to China.

     


  • 22 OurPalm

    OurPalm logo

    HQ: Beijing. China
    Key staff: Steven Hu (CEO)
    Key gamesThe King of Fighters ’98 Ultimate Match Online, Three Kingdoms Defense
    Structure: Publicly listed company (SHE: 300315)
    M&A: $2 billion+ in investments and acquisitions since 2012, Tencent acquired 2% share for $72 million in 2017

    Ourpalm floated on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 2012 and since then has made more than 40 investments and acquisitions worth a total of $2 billion.

    It purchased Playcrab in 2013 for $264 million, a company whose flagship title The King of Fighters ’98 Ultimate Match Online generated peak monthly revenue of over $33 million.

    Shang Game meanwhile, which it fully owns, made peak single day sales of $1.5 million with Three Kingdoms Defense.

    Three Kingdoms Defense

    Other dealings outside of China have included buying stakes in South Korea PC publisher Webzen, Hong-Kong based Animoca Brands and an investment in Unity.

    Ourpalm may have cashed out of the latter after Unity raised $400 million from equity firm Silver Lake in May 2017.

    In June 2017 Tencent acquired a 2% share in Ourpalm for $72 million., strengthening the relationship between the two Chinese gaming giants.

  • 21 CyberAgent

    CyberAgent logo

    HQ: Tokyo, Japan
    Sales: $932.8 million (Games business, nine months ending June 30th 2017)
    Headcount: est. 1,500
    Key staff: Yusuke Hidaka (Executive Manager, Games)
    Key games: Dragon Quest Monster Super Light, Sengoku Enbu KIZNA, The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls Starlight Stage, Shadowverse
    Structure: Floated on the Tokyo stock exchange (TYO:4751)
    M&A: Not currently active

    One of those huge Japanese companies that’s unknown outside of its domestic market, CyberAgent is a media conglomerate whose businesses include smartphone advertising, mobile video and mobile games.

    Its studios include Cygames, Sumzap, GCREST and Applibot. Thanks to successful games such as Sengoku Enbu KIZNA, The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls Starlight Stage and Shadowverse, FY16 revenues rose 41% to a record $1 billion.

    The company has continued to fly high in 2017, as sales for the nine months ending June 30th reached $2.4 billion, with $932.8 million of that from its games business.

    Games generates the bulk of the company’s profits, something it hopes will continue with six new titles, ranging from RPG Black Rose Suspects to music game Bang Dream! Girls Band Party!.


  • 20 Rovio

    Rovio logo

    HQ: Espoo, Finland
    Sales: $101 million (Q2 FY17)
    Key staff: Kati Levoranta (CEO) Wilhelm Taht (EVP, Games)
    Key games: Angry Birds 2, Battle Bay, Angry Birds Evolution
    Structure: Privately held
    M&A: Set to launch initial public offering in October 2017

    2016 and 2017 have been quite the resurgent years for Rovio.

    It got off to a slow start, but Angry Birds 2 is now a consistent top 50 grosser following a series of updates.

    Last year also saw the launch of The Angry Birds Movie to big screen success, with a sequel already confirmed as on the way.

    In 2017 it’s already launched mobile titles including Battle Bay, Angry Birds Evolution and Angry Birds Match, and it has also opened an exciting new London studio.

    Rovio’s games business generated $61.7 million in Q1 2017, doubling its Q1 2016 revenues. By Q2 2017, revenues had grown 94% year-on-year to $101.3 million, with profits up an impressive 269% to $37.1 million. The revenues just keep soaring higher.

    As it continues to grow, it’s now planning an initial public offering that could value the company at around $1 billion.


  • 19 IGG

    IGG logo

    HQ: Singapore
    Sales: $322 million (FY16)
    Headcount: 800
    Key staff: Kevin Xu (COO)
    Key games: Castle Clash, Lords Mobile
    Structure: Floated on Hong Kong exchange (HKG:0799)
    M&A: Expensive, but would give hungry Chinese companies great Western reach

    Until 2016, IGG (I Got Games) was a success story built around great timing and a single great game.

    Castle Clash was the first such strategy game on Android. Thanks to its excellent live ops skills, notably multiple language support, IGG experienced strong year-on-year growth.

    Indeed, four years on, Castle Clash continues to grow, generating over $120 million annually.

    Now, however, Castle Clash has been overtaken by Lords Mobile. Released in March 2016, it’s the company’s fastest release to reach $13 million in monthly revenue, and by the end of the year it had generated nearly $130 million, proving IGG can develop multiple big-money hits.


  • 18 Miniclip

    Miniclip logo

    HQ: Neuchâtel, Switzerland
    Sales: Undisclosed
    Key staff: Robert Small (CEO)
    Key games: 8 Ball Pool, Agar.io, Football Strike
    Structure: Majority-owned by Tencent
    M&A: N/A

    Miniclip had a huge 2015. It had a viral hit with Agar.io and attracted the overtures of Tencent, which bought a majority stake in the publisher.

    Things didn’t slow down in 2016. Agar.io accumulated more than 113 million downloads and 30 million MAUs.

    Following this, Miniclip crossed a major milestone by accruing one billion lifetime downloads for its mobile portfolio.

    It now boasts an audience of almost 200 million MAUs, and its flagship title 8 Ball Pool became a number one top grosser on the UK App Store in January 2017.

    With the Western launch of Tencent’s War Wings, and the newly released Football Strike, Miniclip looks set to continue its march to success.


  • 17 Square Enix

    Square Enix  logo

    HQ: Tokyo, Japan
    Sales: $2.25 billion (FY17)
    Headcount: c. 3500
    Key staff: Yosuke Matsuda (CEO)
    Key games: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, Mobius Final Fantasy, Deus Ex GO
    Structure: TYO:9684
    M&A: Partnering with MZ on Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire

    Final Fantasy fans got not one, but two mobile Final Fantasy games in 2016 – and they were pretty good too.

    Brave Exvius is the clear favourite, having surpassed 20 million downloads worldwide, and garnering a celebrity tie-in with the bizarre choice of singer Ariana Grande.

    Mobius Final Fantasy isn't too shabby either, achieving 10 million downloads worldwide by January 2017 and increasing by millions more since.

    It wasn’t all Final Fantasy, however. The latest entry in the brilliant GO series, Deus Ex GO, launched alongside its console big brother to critical acclaim.

    Overall, revenues from its Digital Entertainment segment grew to $1.74 billion for its FY17.

    But what’s most interesting is the company’s partnership with MZ on Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire, which is already proving a hit.


  • 16 NCsoft

    NCsoft logo

    HQ: Seongnam, South Korea
    Sales: $83 million (Mobile games, Q2 FY17)
    Headcount: c. 3,000
    Key staff: Songyee Yoon (CEO)
    Key games: Lineage M
    Structure: KRX: 036570
    M&A: Acquisitions/investments possible in the mobile space

    Traditionally a PC publisher, NCSoft has proven a master of leveraging its IP on mobile over the last year to immense, record-breaking success.

    Netmarble’s Lineage 2 Revolution, based on the NCSoft-owned IP, surpassed $176 million in revenues in its first month. The royalties alone were said to have generated NCSoft $35.4 million in Q1 FY17.

    It’s also brought the classic PC game to mobile in the form of Lineage M, and that has shattered records once again, reportedly making over $233 million in a single month.

    It helped spur mobile revenues at NCSoft up 300% quarter-on-quarter in Q2 FY17 to $83 million, as the company reported sales of $229 million overall.

    Both games dominate the South Korean App Store grossing charts, and you can expect that continue for some time yet.


  • 15 Com2uS

    Com2uS logo

    HQ: Seoul, South Korea
    Sales: $114.8 million (Q2 FY17)
    Headcount: c. 800
    Key staff: Casey Lee (CEO, Com2uS USA)
    Key games: Summoners War
    Structure: Floated on South Korean stock exchange (KOSDAQ:078340)
    M&A: Majority stake owned by Gamevil as of October 2013.

    Com2uS seemed to have hit its peak in 2015, with revenues up year-on-year to $369 million.

    But growth continued into 2016 and 2017, with Q2 FY17 revenues reaching $115 million.

    Its flagship IP, the unstoppable Summoners War, has continued its runaway success three years after launch with 80 million downloads and total lifetime revenues surpassing $1 billion.

    Not just its ability to be a success in South Korea though, what’s impressive is the game’s international appeal.

    83% of Com2uS’ total sales in Q2 2017 were from outside its homeland, a rarity among Asian developers.

    Such is the game's international popularity, the developer is now also pushing the title as an eSport in an effort to widen its appeal even further.

    As the company ramps up global activity to support the Summoners War IP, it's expanding its European operations with the help of fellow South Korea publisher Gamevil, also on this list.

    As a result, Gamevil Europe has become a joint venture with Com2uS, and is now known as Gamevil Com2uS Europe.


  • 14 Peak Games

    Peak Games logo

    HQ: Istanbul, Turkey
    Sales: Undisclosed
    Key staff: Sidar Sahin (CEO)
    Key games: Toy Blast, Toon Blast
    Structure: Privately held
    M&A: Could become an acquisition target following another big hit with Toon Blast

    Turkish outfit Peak Games made a push into casino games in 2016 with Gin Rummy Plus and Bid Whist Plus, with the former performing admirably.

    But Peak’s real breakout game in 2016 came from a title it already launched in 2015. Match-3 puzzle title Toy Blast now boasts over 1,000 levels.

    And throughout 2016 and 2017 it steadily became a consistent top 20 and 30 App Store top grosser in the US and UK.

    The studio aims to create a franchise with the launch of Toon Blast, which is already a top 100 grosser on the US and UK App Stores.

    With quality casual games and an effective user acquisition strategy, you’ll be hearing a lot more about Peak Games.


  • 13 Sony

    Sony logo

    HQ: Tokyo, Japan
    Sales: $1.53 billion (Q1 2017, Sony Music)
    Headcount: c. 125,000
    Key staff: Kazuo Hirai (President, CEO)
    Key gamesFate/Grand Order, Mingol
    Structure: TYO: 6758
    M&A: Opened new mobile studio Forwardworks

    Sony’s biggest mobile hit actually sits under its music division, but that didn’t stop Fate/Grand Order dominating the Japanese charts.

    It held off global hit Pokemon GO last year, out-ranking it on the Android top grossing charts 104 of the 133 days Niantic’s blockbuster had been out in the wild. But Sony has even bigger plans for mobile.

    Its ForwardWorks studio has released debut title Mingol, and is prepping quirky new title Sora to Umi no Aida for launch too.

    It’s also launched a brand new PlayLink range of games, allowing PS4 users to use their smartphones as a controller, offering exciting new ways to play console games.

    It's been a couple years of big bangs and misfires for Sony in the mobile space, but it's huge successes outweigh its failures.


  • 12 Jam City

    Jam City logo

    HQ: Los Angeles, USA
    Sales: Undisclosed ($400 million a year says Chris DeWolfe)
    Headcount: c. 400
    Key staff: Chris DeWolfe (CEO)
    Key games: Panda Pop, Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff, Snoopy Pop
    Structure: Private (raised $130 million from Netmarble in 2015)
    M&A: Acquired TinyCo, eyeing IPO

    Rebranding from SGN Games to Jam City, the studio has had a big year following a number of launches and its acquisition of Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff developer TinyCo.

    It’s a company able do well with its own IP and licensed titles. Panda Pop continues to be a top 50 grosser and it recently passed 100 million downloads.

    Its other titles like the Cookie Jam series, Family Guy: Another Freakin’ Mobile Game, The Quest for Stuff and Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow aren’t doing too shabbily either.

    And now the company is exploring other genres, such as the interactive fiction space with newly soft-launched title Twist. The genre has been made popular on mobile by games like Pocket Gems' hit Episode (a developer also on this list).

    Add to this CEO Chris DeWolfe’s claims that it’s generating $400 million a year, it seems natural that Jam City may look at an initial public offering in the next couple of years to continue its upward trajectory.


  • 11 Nintendo

    Nintendo logo

    HQ: Kyoto, Japan
    Sales: $1.4 billion (Q1 FY17)
    Headcount: c. 5,000
    Key staff: Tatsumi Kimishima (President), Shigeru Miyamoto
    Key games: Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes, Pokemon GO
    Structure: TYO: 7974
    M&A: Unlikely

    In 2015, Nintendo finally capitulated to demand and announced a partnership with Japanese outfit DeNA to develop mobile games.

    Nintendo’s first foray was the quirky chat app Miitomo in March 2016.

    This was followed up by Niantic’s blockbuster hit Pokemon GO, which Nintendo made a significant return on despite its small stake.

    Nintendo’s real arrival on mobile though was free-to-start auto-runner Super Mario Run.

    It garnered over 150 million downloads, and brought the Mario IP to a new generation.

    Nintendo hasn’t stopped there, its fully-fledged free-to-play title Fire Emblem Heroes knocked it out the park with its high quality and reported $100 million returns.

    With an Animal Crossing mobile game on the way and plenty more big franchises to bring to mobile, Nintendo's future on the platform looks rosy indeed.

    But simply calling out typical mobile platforms would neglect to mention the hugely successful launch of the Nintendo Switch, a hybrid tablet/console.

    Early signs are that the company has once again carved out its own space, and consumers are lapping it up with around five million units shipped already.

    Nintendo's mobile and Switch strategy has sent its stock sky high, and with big releases still on the way for Switch, such as Super Mario Odyssey, and the potential for third-party publishers to take notice and release more games, it could rise even higher.


  • 10 GungHo Online Entertainment

    GungHo Online Entertainment logo

    HQ: Tokyo, Japan
    Sales: $442.7 million (H1 FY17)
    Headcount: c. 1,000
    Key staff: Kazuki Morishita (President and CEO)
    Key games: Puzzle & Dragons, Super Senso
    Structure: Floated on Tokyo stock exchange (TYO:3765)
    M&A: Bought back $685 million in shares from SoftBank

    With 46 million downloads in Japan – one-third of the country’s 127 million population – local growth was always going to prove difficult for Puzzle & Dragons.

    A fall in profits for publisher GungHo shows that the game is in a steady decline, but it remains wildly successful and regularly sits in the top five of the Japanese App Store top grossing charts.

    Its move into North America has seen GungHo’s flagship IP garner over 11 million downloads since 2012, ranking in the top 50 of the US Google Play top grossing charts and top 150 on the US App Store.

    But while GungHo has made inroads in North America, the game was shut down after eight months in China.

    The fact remains, though, that GungHo is a profitable company with a massive IP. It reported revenues of nearly $442.7 million in H1 2017.

    And its new global strategy will see the company refocus on the global market.

    To that end, it has 11 games in development as it seeks to move away from total reliance on Puzzle & Dragons. One recent title is strategy game Super Senso, which it hopes to turn into a mobile eSport.

    Given its prior success and reach, few would bet against GungHo’s long-term success.


  • 9 Mixi

    Mixi logo

    HQ: Tokyo, Japan
    Sales: $1.82 billion (FY2017)
    Headcount: c. 1,000
    Key staff: Hiroki Morita (CEO)
    Key games: Monster Strike
    Structure: Floated on Tokyo stock exchange (TYO:2121)
    M&A: Not active

    Despite operating the most successful F2P mobile game in the world during 2016, Japanese social network Mixi now finds itself working hard to sustain Monster Strike during what appears to be its lucrative and long decline.

    Mixi generates most of its revenue and all its profits from Monster Strike, which remains one of the handful of games to generate over $1 billion annually.

    Indeed, Mixi’s turnover in FY17 was $1.8 billion, but it may surprise you to know that was down less than 1% year-on-year.

    Throughout 2016 and into 2017, Monster Strike has retained its overall position as Japan’s top game, but competition from titles like Sony Music’s Fate/Grand Order (Sony is also on this top 50 list) saw it spending more time in second position.

    Mixi also had to rethink its global expansion plans. Its North American marketing push failed to find an audience, resulting in a pivot to the five million downloads Monster Strike gained in Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong.

    Not only are these valuable markets but they act as a good testing ground for the $10 billion Chinese mobile game market.

    At home, Mixi is expanding beyond the phone. 2017’s Monster Strike animated movie was a success, as were the anime shorts, while the game’s annual player event in Tokyo is growing too.


  • 8 EA Mobile

    EA Mobile logo

    HQ: Redwood Shores, USA
    Sales: $637 million (Mobile revenues for trailing year June ending June 30th 2017)
    Headcount: c. 800
    Key staff: Andrew Wilson (CEO), Samantha Ryan (SVP, EA Mobile)
    Key games: Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, Madden NFL Mobile, FIFA Mobile Soccer
    Structure: Floated on NASDAQ (NASDAQ:EA)
    M&A: Hasn't been active since expensive PopCap deal in 2011

    EA Mobile hit a landmark $500 million in 12-month revenues in 2015, and for the trailing year ending June 30th 2017 mobile revenues topped $637 million.

    It makes mobile a significant – and importantly, growing – element of the company’s business.

    There are many strands to this success. EA Sports titles such as FIFA Mobile and Madden NFL Mobile continue to be honed and operate successfully in-and-out of season.

    New title NBA Mobile Basketball, released in July 2016, also added revenue. But the company’s biggest hit remains Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes.

    Released in late 2015, it’s been a constant in the US top grossing top 40 throughout 2016, with the release of big updates such as the addition of guilds and spaceships battles pushing it back into the top 20.

    Not all EA Mobile’s high-profile games have been hits, though. Plants vs. Zombies Heroes, a card-collection reimagining of the classic IP, failed to find an audience.

    Still, throw in legacy titles such as The Simpsons: Tapped Out, Real Racing 3 and SimCity BuildIt, which are passed their peak but still popular, and the potential to bring massive brands such as Battlefield and Mass Effect to mobile devices, and EA Mobile seems well set for the future.


  • 7 King Digital Entertainment

    King Digital Entertainment logo

    HQ: London, UK
    Sales: $480 million (Q2 FY17) ($1.63 billion total for Activision Blizzard in same quarter)
    Headcount: c. 1,400
    Key staff: Riccardo Zacconi (CEO, King)
    Key games: Candy Crush Saga, Bubble Witch Saga 3, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (Blizzard)
    Structure: Floated on the NASDAQ (NASDAQ: ATVI)
    M&A: Activision Blizzard completed $5.9 billion acquisition of King in 2016, bought analytics firm Omniata, invested $5.7 million in Snowprint, partnership with PlayStudios

    Thanks to the $5.9 billion acquisition conjoining King with Activision Blizzard, the combined outfit now strides the PC, console and mobile games markets.

    It’s hard to pin down total mobile revenues, but the success of King’s Saga games and Blizzard’s cross-platform CCG Hearthstone can be said to be in the order of $2 billion annually.

    Specific King revenues for Q2 FY17 were reported at $480 million for the quarter. following an increase in bookins per user for the eighth consecutive quarter.

    More than just cash, King’s audience of around 450 million monthly players is an important component of the company’s ability to reach different demographics around the world.

    Following the acquisition, various parts of King’s empire were tidied up. However, King is shaping itself for the future, buying analytics outfit Omniata, releasing internal game engine Defold, investing in Swedish developer Snowprint Studios and an expansion into midcore action games (including work on one of gaming’s most well known IPs: Call of Duty).

    But King isn't stopping them with diversifying its portfolio. It recently entered the social casino space through a partnership with PlayStudios and has soft-launched Royal House Slots.

    As for live games, Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga and Candy Crush Jelly Saga  remain stalwarts of the US top grossing top five, top 10 and top 50 charts respectively.

    Candy Crush Saga has now generated over one trillion game plays and still does around $500 million of annual revenue.

    Such is the IP’s mainstream appeal, there’s now a US game show based on the title too.


  • 6 Netmarble

    Netmarble logo

    HQ: Seoul, South Korea
    Sales: $472.3 million (Q2 FY17)
    Headcount: 3,000
    Key staff: Jun Hyuk Bang (Chairman), Seungwon Lee (Chief Global Officer) 
    Key games: Lineage 2: Revolution, Marvel Contest of Champions
    Structure: Publicly listed (KRX: 251270)
    M&A: Floated on Korea stock exchange, Acquired varios Kabam assets and publishing label

    Few companies in the games industry have had as an eventful year as South Korea-based Netmarble.

    The publisher launched its IPO in May 2017, at the time valuing the company at $12.2 billion.

    It now plans to go on an acquisition spree to the tune of $4.4 billion as it looks to rapidly expand its already lucrative business.

    Prior to its public offering the company had already made some big moves.

    It tried to acquire social casino developer Playtika for $4.3 billion, and then later splashed the cash on a number of Kabam assets, including the publishing label, its Vancouver studio, and the rights to that publisher’s main money-makers, Marvel: Contest of Champions and Transformers: Forged to Fight.

    If that wasn’t enough, it launched Lineage 2: Revolution in South Korea in January 2017, taking the App Store by storm to go straight to the top of the charts and reportedly bringing in more than $176 million in its first month. It remains a top two/three grosser nearly nine months.

    Its success hasn't been limited to just South Korea though. It shot straight to number one on Japan's App Store after launch and remains a top 10 grossing title. It's been rolled out to countries in Southeast Asia, with a Western launch imminent.

    With quality games, a huge existing user base of dedicated players and a hefty amount of money to back its ambitions, Netmarble looks only set to grow even bigger in both the East and the West.


  • 5 Machine Zone

    Machine Zone logo

    HQ: Palo Alto, USA
    Sales: Undisclosed (est. $2 billion)
    Headcount: 900
    Key staff: Gabe Leydon (CEO)
    Key games: Game of War, Mobile Strike, Final Fantasy: A New Empire
    Structure: Privately held, has raised $13 million in VC money
    M&A: Yes, but who could afford it?

    MZ is one of a very select number of companies to develop multiple games that generate annual sales of $1 billion.

    But that’s exactly what both Game of War (launched in 2013) and Mobile Strike (2015) have done.

    One reason for their longevity is the company’s focus on live operations, and keeping the in-game Alliances constantly busy and spending, with new events and special rewards.

    This is combined with an ever-more expansive and sophisticated user acquisition operation. Previously reliant on celebrities such as Kate Upton and Mariah Carey, MZ’s incessant marketing machine switched to a more down-to-earth approach with ‘real life people’.

    That said, its Super Bowl ad for Mobile Strike starring Arnold Schwarzenegger was the most viewed advert on YouTube during 2016.

    Another big driver of installs were simple interactive ads embedded inside other F2P mobile games. In this small way, something of MZ’s success is shared throughout the industry

    The company has expanded its portfolio by co-developing Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire with Square Enix, becoming an instant top 50 US grosser. MZ has refocused most of its UA efforts on this title, even recruiting influencer Alexis Ren to lead its new ad campaign.

    That UA strategy has seen the title fly even higher into the top 20/30 grossing ranks on the US App Store.

    It’s also offering its server technology, RTplatform (the public version is known as Satori), for non-gaming uses, providing MZ with another potential business opportunity that’s had some valuing the company at over $9 billion.

    You can read an in-depth deconstruction of MZ's impressive business here.


  • 4 NetEase

    NetEase logo

    HQ: Beijing, China
    Sales: $5 billion (est.)
    Headcount: 13,000
    Key staff: William Ding (CEO)
    Key games: Fantasy Westward Journey, Onmyoji, Ghost
    Structure: Floated on NASDAQ (NASDAQ:NTES)
    M&A: Likely

    Chinese publisher NetEase is no stranger to financial success, but over the last year the publisher has taken it to the next level.

    The company’s games business grew revenues by 60% year-on-year to $4 billion in 2016 following a large release slate of 40 new mobile games over the year.

    2017 is flying too, with revenues hitting $2 billion in just the first quarter and another $2 billion in the second quarter. Its rapidly rising sales led to the publisher becoming the top grossing mobile games company in the world in October 2016 and it’s not stopped there.

    It’s all thanks to a strong portfolio of games that includes Onmyoji, Fantasy Westward Journey and Ghost, which are hugely popular in Asia.

    In fact, Onmyoji and Fantasy Westward Journey were the top two grossing mobile games in the world in October 2016, beating out the likes of Monster Strike, Mobile Strike, Clash Royale and Pokemon GO - games whose developers all feature on this list.

    NetEase will be hoping to enjoy further success in the West with Onmyoji following its beta launch in the US and Canada in September 2017.

    Ghost was also the ninth ranking game in the world, just beating out Game of War.

    With an abundance of consistent money-makers in its locker, recent releases such as ARPG HIT, yet more titles on the way, and third-party China publishing deals for the likes of 22Cans’ The Trail, NetEase looks set to sustain its success and grow even bigger in the games space and beyond.


  • 3 Tencent

    Tencent logo

    HQ: Beijing, China
    Sales:$2.2 billion (Mobile, Q2 FY17)
    Headcount: c. 30,000 (entire company)
    Key staff: Ma Huateng (CEO)
    Key games: Honour of Kings, WeFire, Clash Royale
    Structure: Floated on Hong Kong stock exchange (HKG:0700)
    M&A: Acquired Clash Royale developer Supercell in June 2016 for $8.6 billion. Has a holding in several other Western companies, including Paradox Interactive, Glu Mobile, Pocket Gems and Miniclip.

    After bagging eighth position in PocketGamer.biz’s Top 50 Developer 2016 list, Tencent made what was unquestionably the biggest acquisition of that year when it bought out SoftBank’s shares in Supercell for $8.6 billion.

    Already the world’s largest mobile games company by revenue, it’s now added the likes of Clash Royale and Clash of Clans to its portfolio, and can use its significant influence in its homeland to push them even further.

    It’s not just Supercell though, Tencent continues to invest in games companies the world over.

    Much of its influence, at least in Asia, is down to the fact that Tencent operates leading mobile messaging platforms WeChat and QQ, which hit 762 million and 877 million monthly active users respectively in Q1 2016.

    Tencent posted a staggering $21.9 billion annual revenue in 2016, with its mobile games division playing a key role.

    But perhaps most significantly in 2017, mobile game sales beat PC for the first time as the company posted $8.56 billion revenues for Q2 FY17. Mobile sales represented $2.2 billion of that, helping set the firm on a course to smash 2016's total sales.

    MOBA Honor of Kings has been that division’s superstar, and was already bringing in the big bucks. The game’s been a phenomenon, racking up 200 million downloads and over 50 million DAUs.

    Tencent has now set its eyes on bringing the game to the West as Arena of Valor, where if it replicates even half of that success it’ll be on to a surefire winner, and it could also help lift mobile eSports in the West to new heights that rival the biggest PC hits.


  • 2 Niantic

    Niantic logo

    HQ: San Francisco, USA
    Sales: $1 billion+ (Est.)
    Headcount: c. 150
    Key staff: John Hanke (CEO), Mike Quigley (CMO)
    Key games: Pokemon GO, Ingress
    Structure: Independent (Investment from Google, Nintendo, The Pokémon Company and other investors)
    M&A: No

    Niantic hasn’t quite come out of nowhere, having been founded in 2010 and working closely with Google.

    Harnessing the Google Cloud Platform and Google Maps, the team developed innovative location-based augmented reality game Ingress for full public launch in 2013, gathering million downloads.

    In 2015, the studio split from Google to go independent, attracting investment of around $30 million from Google, Nintendo and The Pokemon Company.

    Its next big step was to harness the Pokemon brand and leverage the tech it used for Ingress to unleash Pokemon GO onto the world in July 2016.

    It was an instant success for the company, attracting well over 650 million downloads and generating a reported $1 billion in revenue from IAPs and its lucrative sponsored locations.

    The game smashed all kinds of records to make it one of the most popular titles ever.

    A year on, the game is still a strong performer, with Niantic becoming a leader in running in-game events.

    It’s now also moved onto the next phase: real world events that are bringing thousands of people together.

    It’s not clear what Niantic’s next steps may be away from Pokemon GO, but it certainly has no shortage of admirers and big brands wanting a taste of its location-based AR magic - a magic that has provided the jet fuel to an entire mobile AR industry.


  • 1 Supercell

    Supercell logo

    HQ: Helsinki, Finland
    Sales: $2.3 billion (2016)
    Headcount: 150
    Key staff: Ilkka Paananen (CEO)
    Key games: Clash Royale, Brawl Stars, Clash of Clans, HayDay, Boom Beach
    Structure: Majority owned by Chinese tech firm Tencent (HKG:0700)
    M&A: Tencent acquired 84% stake for $8.6 billion; Supercell bought 51% stake in Frogmind for $7.8 million and 62% stake in Space Ape Games for $55.8 million

    Since 2012 Supercell has been a stalwart of the top 10 grossing charts the world over thanks to a stream of hits such as Hay Day, Clash of Clans and Boom Beach.

    In 2016 Supercell proved once again just how much of a mobile powerhouse it really is with the release of Clash Royale, which reportedly surpassed $1 billion in revenue.

    All this success led Chinese internet giant Tencent to snap up the company for $8.6 billion.

    Supercell then began spreading its wings on its own in the M&A space, purchasing a 51% share in Badland developer Frogmind, investing $2.9 million in AR developer Shipyard games and splashing out $55.8 million for a 62% stake in Space Ape Games.

    Supercell has a rare quality to keep its existing games popular for years – and to reinvent the mobile games space with each new title.

    The developer is at it again with the soft launch of the excellent Brawl Stars. That’s a clear shot at taking on eSports in the mobile arena, something it just might achieve.

    It’s also been busy branching out its IP into merchandise and animations. Never a follower, Supercell is a leader, and that’s why it sits on top in our Top 50 Developer list for 2017.


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Arpit Saxena
sir what about ...kefir game production (game name last day on earth) ......leave any comment
Justin Endo Marketing Manager at Yengage Corporation
I count 12 for Japan... unless you aren't counting Nexon?
Craig Chapple Editor at PocketGamer.biz
Yeah I've counted Nexon as South Korea (despite the fact their HQ is in Japan!).
Guillaume Taillefer
Interesting list and choices.
What is the methodology behind?
Craig Chapple Editor at PocketGamer.biz
Hi Guillaume, we used a number of criteria, from the quality of the games and innovation to revenue, business expansion and global impact, as judged over the last year (and since our last list).

This year we also let companies submit their data and other info on themselves prior to collating the list (though this of course did not guarantee inclusion).

A team of us at PocketGamer.biz then discussed the list on numerous occasions and whittled it down to the top 50 and positions within it.
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