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The Top 50 Mobile Game Makers of 2019

The Top 50 Mobile Game Makers of 2019

This year marks the 10th year that we’ve conducted our Top 50 Developer list - now rebranded as Top 50 Mobile Game Makers.

Suffice to say, the mobile games industry has changed dramatically over the last decade. Back in 2009, Firemint was top of the pack, with Gameloft and Bolt Creative following close behind.

But time can be cruel. Many of the names on that list are unrecognisable today - though the likes of EA Mobile, Glu, Com2uS and Jam City (then known as SGN) notably remain.

Everything changes

Global industry consolidation, greater understanding of free-to-play and live ops, and Asia’s increasing influence over the West have changed the shape of the market.

In truth this has probably been the toughest list to assemble in our many years creating it. Some of the heavyweights - or those that perhaps might be expected to be at the top - have faded, while other giants are finding their groove again.

And then there’s the innovators and fast-growing mobile firms, the studios coming not quite out of nowhere, but bringing something new to the market, or upending their own businesses in the search for success. As such, there will be some notable absentees from this list.

That is not to say those companies are no longer important, but more that in 2019 we're projecting forward and this guide really belongs to the consolidators and the innovators.

The former being those companies that have built themselves up through clever M&A and a clear business strategy, and the latter to those that have forged their success by doing something markedly different, whether that’s finding new genres, building innovations on existing categories or adapting to new business models.

Click here to view the list »
  • 50 Drodo Studio

    Drodo Studio logo

    A wildcard entry, perhaps, but Drodo Studio’s impact on the games industry has led to 2019’s new hit genre: Auto Chess.

    The studio is behind the hit PC mod DOTA: Auto Chess, spawning a genre that has seen a series of imitators from giants Riot Games and Valve.

    Drodo signed a deal with Dragonest for a mobile game earlier this year, then later
    Tencent jumped on board to co-publish the game too - despite making its own version.

    It’s early days, but given that DOTA: Auto Chess rapidly became one of Steam’s most played games despite only being available through the Workshop, Auto Chess could be this year’s battle royale.


  • 49 Big Pixel Studios

    Big Pixel Studios logo

    It’s been a big couple of years for London’s Big Pixel Studios. Formed by a team of industry veterans in 2009, the studio launched the Pokémon-esque Pocket Mortys in 2016, a quirky title that nails its source material and as such has proven a big hit for the team.

    Adult Swim acquired the studio for an undisclosed fee in 2018, supporting the studio’s expansion from a team of just four full-timers to nearly 20 by November 2018.

    A great game, an expanding team, an acquisition and also big plans for the future, Big Pixel sums up exactly what this Top 50 is all about.


  • 48 Ndemic Creations

    Ndemic Creations logo

    Ndemic Creations’ virus outbreak simulator Plague Inc may be seven years old now, but it remains as popular as ever.

    In the 90 days preceding the end of July, the game has consistently featured in the top 10 App Store game download rankings in the UK, US, Germany, Japan and South Korea and the top 25 in China. It’s been played by 120m people and was a top-three selling app in 2018.

    In December 2018, Ndemic launched a new game, the political/military sim Rebel Inc. That title too has had strong campaigns in all the aforementioned countries, hitting the top 50 downloads.


  • 47 EA Mobile

    EA Mobile logo

    In its year-end financials, EA said its mobile business remained hugely profitable. Indeed, its flagship game Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes continues to be a highly popular game.

    But following flat launches of Commander & Conquer: Rivals and The Sims Mobile, EA found its net bookings down 23 per cent in Q4 2019 and it expects further declines into 2020.

    EA says it has decided to spend more time with its games in soft launch, and it’ll be hoping high profile releases Apex Legends and Plants vs. Zombies 3 on mobile will provide it with a much-needed new hit.


  • 46 Bethesda Game Studios

    Bethesda Game Studios logo

    This year’s top 50 features a litany of companies looking to innovate, whether with small but key design updates on existing ideas or successful attempts at completely new games.

    Following Fallout Shelter’s estimated success - picking up 150m-plus downloads - Bethesda hasn’t just adopted a cookie cutter approach to the rest of its IP. Instead, with The Elder Scrolls: Blades it offers something new with a visual style closer to its triple-A kin.

    Such is Bethesda’s new-found bullishness on mobile, it even opened its E3 2019 keynote with the game.

    Eyes will now be on Blades’ long-term performance and China-exclusive Fallout Shelter Online, which adds PvP to the mix


  • 45 Jagex

    Jagex logo

    Jagex was founded by the Gower brothers 20 years ago and their classic 2001 MMO RuneScape continues to be a widely popular and hugely successful game.

    The company finally brought Old School RuneScape to mobile devices in 2018, netting the studio some big awards for its efforts. Following the mobile launch, players across devices reached a peak of 150k concurrent players.

    A studio with a long heritage in desktop gaming, mobile has transformed the studio - which has been busy ramping up its team with a string of senior hires - and, as its own CEO states, has been pivotal in turning the firm into a “pioneer in cross-platform play”.


  • 44 Lockwood Publishing

    Lockwood Publishing logo

    Lockwood Publishing initially found its riches on PlayStation Home. Since then however, it has evolved into a top mobile games developer in the UK thanks to the success of Avakin Life.

    The studio claims to have doubled revenue every year over the last four years and during the last financial year took just under £18 million in revenue.

    Total installs have surpassed 50m, DAUs hit close to 1m and MAUs 6m. It’s also opened new offices in Brighton, Newcastle and Lithuania over the years.

    Shifting to mobile caught out a lot of games companies back when Avakin Life came to the platform in 2013, but Lockwood has made the jump look easy.


  • 43 Fusebox Games

    Fusebox Games logo

    UK studio Fusebox Games had a breakout year in 2018 with the launch of Love Island: The Game.

    Based on the wildly popular reality TV show, on its debut the interactive fiction title shot to the top of the UK download charts and into the top 10 grossers.

    Not just a one-hit-wonder, the game received a second season boost for 2019 and with the kickoff of the latest television series in June it has once again returned to the top 60 UK grossing spots.

    The Fusebox team have proven themselves experts in utilising big TV licenses to games, and has become a competitive player in the interactive fiction space.


  • 42 Habby

    Habby logo

    Perhaps given a few months longer, Singapore’s Habby might have found its way higher up this list - or have been remembered as a flash in the pan for this year’s launch of Archero.

    Within days of its release it achieved top 100 grossing positions globally in key markets from the US and UK to Japan and South Korea. In the latter it has performed particularly well, striking up top 15 positions.

    But what’s more outstanding than just monetary success is the game’s unique, simplistic and exciting style of play.

    The combination of great design and strong sales - should they continue - will no doubt lead to a host of imitators.


  • 41 N3TWORK

    N3TWORK logo

    N3twork has for a long time been operating under the radar, stealthily showing its live ops expertise off with Legendary: Game of Heroes to those in the know, with the title continuing to hover in and around the US top 100 grossing mark.

    But this year has seen the studio start to come out of the shadows with its new Scale Platform to support mobile companies with user acquisition. It’s also signed a key exclusive deal with The Tetris Company to develop and publish new Tetris mobile games around the world (except China), starting with Tetris Royale.


  • 40 Seriously

    Seriously logo

    Finnish developer Seriously had its biggest year yet in 2018. Off the back of the Best Fiends franchise, the studio’s revenue grew 65 per cent year-on-year to $69 million in 2018. In Q4 alone it generated $22.2m.

    The team has extended the IP into areas such as animation, while it’s also become particularly well known in industry circles for its excellent marketing campaigns - picking up Best Marketing Team at the Pocket Gamer Mobile Games Awards 2019.

    Total gross revenue to date for the Best Fiends franchise stood at $175m as of January 2019.

    Seriously will be hoping to broaden the IP’s gaming success with the currently in soft launch Best Fiends Stars.


  • 39 Hutch

    Hutch logo

    London-based Hutch was formed in 2011 with a focus on developing racing games. While it’s had success in the past, the company sped into overdrive with the launch of Top Drives.

    The title has proven a sustainable success story that has tuned the company towards astute live ops management.

    Over the past year, the team has grown to 80, hiring 15 people in the past 12 months.

    It’s also secured a multi-year, multi-game licensing partnership with F1, resulting in the first game of the deal, F1 Manager.

    Hutch is a noted Sunday Times SME Export Track 100 company for its fast-growing sales, and to date its portfolio has attracted 200 million players.


  • 38 Kwalee

    Kwalee logo

    Founded back in 2011 by Codemasters co-founder David Darling, Kwalee has gone through a transformational year after hopping on the hypercasual train.

    Thanks to titles such as Plank, Draw it and Looper, the Leamington Spa-based studio has generated hundreds of millions of players and is increasingly becoming a big player in the hypercasual space.

    As one person who nominated the studio for consideration put it, games like Draw It have pushed the technical and creative boundaries of the genre, challenging the status quo of what a hyper-casual game can be.


  • 37 Aristocrat Leisure

    Aristocrat Leisure logo

    Australian casino company Aristocrat Leisure made a significant statement of intent for the games space when it bought Big Fish Games for $990 million and Plarium for $500m.

    The firm’s H2 2019 financial report highlights strong growth with digital sales up 37 per cent.

    Titles such as Big Fish’s Jackpot Magic Slots and Cooking Craze have boosted earnings, along with growth in another of its studios, Product Madness.

    Plarium has shown impressive versatility since its acquisition. Known for its 4X strategy games, in more recent times it’s developed Lost Island: Blast Adventure and RPG Raid: Shadow Legends - an impressive game that has become a top 100 US grosser.


  • 36 FoxNext

    FoxNext logo

    FoxNext was picked up as part of Disney’s big $71bn deal for Fox, which closed in March 2019.

    Disney famously left the games business, instead focusing its efforts on licensing, so it’s entirely possible that when this top 50 list comes out, FoxNext may no longer be a part of the House of Mouse.

    But that wouldn’t be because of a lack of expertise or quality from the team. The former Kabam/Aftershock devs unleashed the excellent Marvel Strike Force onto the market in March 2018, already a major revenue generator, making an estimated $55m as of October 2018.

    It currently has interactive fiction title Storyscape in soft launch and a new Avatar game in the works.


  • 35 Glu Mobile

    Glu Mobile logo

    Mobile publisher Glu Mobile finally made a long-awaited return to profit in Q1 2019, significantly up from the net loss of $7.2m in the previous year.

    In a financial report for that period, Glu stated that lifetime bookings for Design Home had surpassed $300m while Covet Fashion brought in a cool $227m - showing just what a bargain Glu’s Crowdstar acquisition was back in 2016.

    Glu’s own Tap Sports Baseball franchise continues to grow, while new release Diner Dash Adventures is off to a top 100 grossing start on the US App Store. The publisher has also teamed up with Disney for new card game Sorcerer’s Arena.


  • 34 Pocket Gems

    Pocket Gems logo

    Pocket Gems has flown a little under the radar over the last year, but don’t let that fool you, it’s still one of the top studios.

    As of April 2019 interactive fiction hit Episode was estimated by Sensor Tower to have accumulated $256m in lifetime sales from 139m downloads.

    Another of its titles War Dragons meanwhile continues to hover around inside the top 100 grossing apps.

    Its latest release Wild Beyond hasn’t struck the same accord as those two hits, but it’s a testament to a studio willing to experiment with something new.

    As the Pocket Gamer Gold Rating review put: “Wild Beyond makes Clash Royale and its ilk look positively staccato”.


  • 33 Yotta Games

    Yotta Games logo

    In March, April and May 2019, Yotta Games’ 2017 release Mafia City maintained a position in the top 10 grossing games worldwide, according to SuperData.

    The game has found lots of success in Japan where it’s a regular top 15 grosser. But it also enjoys good sales well inside the top 100 grossing spots in the UK and US, largely in the top 50 in South Korea and the top 40 in Germany.

    It’s another example of a global success hailing from an Asia studio. In a strategy void currently vacated by Machine Zone, Chinese developer Yotta Games is one of the big winners.


  • 32 Mixi

    Mixi logo

    Mixi is still yet to find a way to reverse the decline of its huge hit Monster Strike. The game reportedly reached $7.2 billion in sales in October 2018, making it the highest-earning mobile app of all time.

    Sales for the year ending March 31st 2019 fell 23.8 per cent to $1.3 billion, while profit dropped 36.5 per cent to $241m.

    That still makes Monster Strike a beast on mobile, but Mixi’s plan to take the game back to its roots and attract both casual and core players, plus release new titles based on the IP, will need to work fast to reverse an increasingly rapid decline.


  • 31 DeNA

    DeNA logo

    Depending on how you rate success, DeNA’s partnership with Nintendo has been a mixed bag.

    Fire Emblem Heroes has been hugely successful, while Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has had a much cooler reception in terms of sales - though Sensor Tower still estimates it has picked up over $99m to date.

    The 2018 financial year saw Japanese developer and publisher DeNA take a hit to its games sales, but that could all be set to change this year.

    On the horizon are Mario Kart Tour and Pokémon Masters, two giant IPs that have the potential to set the world alight, or will they simply simmer like Animal Crossing.


  • 30 IGG

    IGG logo

    Singapore’s I Got Games doesn’t shout too much about its victories. Sales for the 2018 financial year increased 23 per cent year-on-year to $749m and net profit grew 22 per cent to $189m.

    This was largely led by Lords Mobile, which has amassed 180 million registered users and 13 million MAUs. The game went cross-platform on Steam in June 2019, opening up to a new audience.

    Another of its titles, Castle Clash, contributed on average $10m a month to the company’s earnings in 2018, six years after its initial release.

    IGG is actively looking to diversify into casual and sandbox games as it looks at new ways to innovate.


  • 29 Rovio

    Rovio logo

    Rovio’s games revenue continues to fly off the back of those famous Angry Birds.

    In its annual report for 2018, the Finnish developer highlighted how Angry Birds 2 brought in $132m in 2018 alone and $285m through its lifetime. Angry Birds Friends meanwhile picked up $35m for the year, and Match took $29m.

    But the company has a new success on its hands with Dream Blast, the quarterly gross bookings run-rate passing $12m. The company has certainly been busy, with it also acquiring PlayRaven in 2018 and the launch of The Angry Birds Movie 2.

    The famous franchise continues to go from strength-to-strength - with eyes now set on China via Dream Island.


  • 28 Com2uS

    Com2uS logo

    South Korean developer Com2uS has big plans to extend its hit RPG Summoners War, a title that surpassed $1.3bn in sales last year, hit a monthly revenue record in December 2018, and reached the 100 million downloads milestone at the start of 2019.

    Still going strong, Com2uS is working on a TV series, comics and continues on with eSports around the title. What’s more, it’s extending the franchise with a new RTS game called Lost Centuria.

    The company aims to expand outside the IP with new deals and M&A, with the publisher acquiring a majority stake in story-based dev Day 7.


  • 27 Sony

    Sony logo

    Sony may be relying once again on Fate/Grand Order to make its way onto the top 50 - but what a game to rely on.

    Oddly positioned in the company’s Music arm, the mobile RPG from Delightworks and Aniplex is estimated by Sensor Tower to have reached $3bn in worldwide player spending in March 2019.

    In less than a year it picked up $1bn, and its lifetime sales makes it bigger than any of
    Sony’s PS4 hits.

    Outside of Fate/Grand Order, Sony Pictures Television Games recently signed a deal with Metagame Studios and growing publisher Tilting Point for a new mobile title called Zombieland: Double Tapper.


  • 26 DroidHang

    DroidHang logo

    Idle Heroes was first released in June 2016 and has since grown into a monster of an IP in the RPG genre.

    In 2018 it was reported by Deconstructor of Fun to have generated $131m and 13m downloads.

    DH Games has continued to find a way to maintain its market share and grow its revenue considerably.

    In 2019 the title continues to be a consistent top 100 grosser across the globe from the UK and US to South Korea and China. This Chinese developer is a true global success story.


  • 25 FunPlus

    FunPlus logo

    Beijing-based strategy games specialist FunPlus has repeatedly found itself one of the top performers in the genre. 2016’s King of Avalon: Dragon Warfare and 2017’s Guns of Glory have generated $721m and $510m respectively, according to the company itself, picking up a combined $1.3 billion.

    Meanwhile 2018 release Z Day: Hearts of Heroes looks like another success story, hovering around the top 100 grossing spots in the UK, US and South Korea.

    The firm hopes that in 2019 its titles will rake in $1.5 billion.


  • 24 Bandai Namco

    Bandai Namco logo

    Excuse us if we’ve been here before, but Bandai Namco is once again proving how it’s at the top of the game when it comes to running live events.

    In July Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle once again suddenly soared up the charts to a consistent top 20 position for the month.

    Sensor Tower claims it had its best month ever in February 2019, earning around $78.6m, taking total sales over $1.6bn.

    It’s not just Dokkan Battle though, the publisher followed up the title with another huge success in Dragon Ball Legends, estimated to have generated $140m in sales as of February 2019.


  • 23 Playtika

    Playtika logo

    There was a time when social casino specialist Playtika could have formed part of Netmarble.

    Instead, back in 2016 the firm, responsible for hit casino game Slotomania, was acquired by a Chinese consortium for $4.4 billion.

    These days the developer has broader horizons and aims to become the world’s largest casual gaming company, no small ambition given the significant competition.

    To that end it has acquired June’s Journey studio Wooga, card game dev Supertreat and Board Kings outfit Jelly Button Games, a competent selection of studios. It’s also opened up a new casual games division and a brand new London studio.


  • 22 CyberAgent

    CyberAgent logo

    CyberAgent subsidiary Cygames launched RPG Dragalia Lost with Nintendo back in September 2018. Nintendo’s games have struggled on mobile, except for its flagship title Fire Emblem Heroes.

    Cygames’ RPG seemed like a surefire hit then, and according to Sensor Tower data it’s proven to be a rather lucrative venture.

    The game is estimated to have grossed $100 million despite only being available in 11 markets, making what looks to be Nintendo’s second top grossing mobile game.

    Q3 2019 sales were their third highest ever, and operating profit was also at its highest level since Q2 2018, cementing CyberAgent as a consistent hit-maker.


  • 21 Nintendo

    Nintendo logo

    Nintendo has been quick to grow its mobile business over the last few years with the releases of Super Mario Run, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and the highly lucrative Fire Emblem Heroes.

    Sensor Tower estimates that as of July 2019 the latter has made more than $591m since launch, while Pocket Camp has picked up $99m.

    Nintendo has been busy with new games and partnerships, teaming up with Line and NHN for Dr. Mario World, as well as partnering with and investing in Cygames for Dragalia Lost, which is already estimated to have passed $100m.

    Up next on the horizon for Nintendo is the potentially huge Mario Kart Tour


  • 20 Jam City

    Jam City logo

    Jam City has been riding high from the success of Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery. The story-based adventure exceeded an estimated $110m in worldwide sales as of March 2019, according to Sensor Tower.

    In January 2019, the publisher received an investment of $145m from a strategic financing deal.

    The publisher has been busy expanding and signing various deals, including the acquisition of Berlin-based mobile games developer 231 Play, the purchase of the Bingo Pop IP and its team from Uken Games, the opening of a new office in Culver city, and a multi-year game development deal with Disney, which also saw it take over Disney Emoji Blitz.


  • 19 Lilith Games

    Lilith Games logo

    Shanghai-based Lilith Games is a key example of how there’s room for innovation to lead to success in mobile gaming.

    Its latest title, casual RPG AFK Arena, has swiftly become a leading game in its genre in the West, hitting up the top 40 grossing spots in the UK and US and racking up 6.6 million players within two months and $40m since launch, according to Sensor Tower. Expect to hear a lot more about this game over the coming months and potentially years.

    Not just a recent success though, Lilith has also found success with strategy games Art of Conquest and Rise of Kingdoms, generating more than 100 million downloads across its portfolio.


  • 18 Firecraft Studios

    Firecraft Studios logo

    From out of nowhere, Firecraft Studios is this year’s big success that you may not even know about. Sensor Tower reports - through Deconstructor of Fun - that its narrative-driven match-three title Matchington Mansion is generating $15 million a month in 2019.

    Between May to July the title spent much of its time in the US App Store top 15 grossing games spots.

    This new contender in the puzzle space provides real competition for Playrix and Peak Games, particularly the former whose gameplay styles it imitates. It’s exciting to see how a new studio can come out of the woodwork to challenge the elite.


  • 17 Kolibri Games

    Kolibri Games logo

    Just three years ago in February 2016, a team of students without external funding got together to form Fluffy Fairy Games. Since then, the studio has undergone an incredible transformation.

    After just eight weeks in development, it launched Idle Miner Tycoon, a title that would go on to be a massive success.

    Fast-forward to 2019, the company has released another title in Idle Factory Tycoon, and it’s a leader in the idle games space. What’s more, it has racked up 100m downloads, holds 12m MAUs and has grown to over 100 staff at its new Berlin HQ Kreuzberg-Berlin.

    Oh, and it’s renamed itself to Kolibri Games, which is the German term for hummingbird.


  • 16 Warner Bros

    Warner Bros logo

    Entertainment giant Warner Bros. is becoming an increasingly big player in the mobile space thanks to its astute acquisitions and use of IP. Golf Clash, from UK studio Playdemic, continues to be a roaring success.

    Game of Thrones: Conquest meanwhile is a top 10 to 15 grosser and has been one of the beneficiaries of Machine Zone’s 4X strategy decline (and not the only one in
    this list).

    Then there’s Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, co-developed by WB Games San Francisco and Niantic.

    It’s the second largest launch month for an AR game with $12m grossed - but is far behind Pokémon Go’s $300m, according to Sensor Tower


  • 15 Netmarble

    Netmarble logo

    The South Korean games giant remains one of the world’s biggest mobile games publishers, despite the inevitable but surprisingly significant decline of Lineage 2 Revolution sales.

    It now sits more evenly besides Marvel Contest of Champions and the company’s new flagship title Blade & Soul Revolution.

    Of course, the publisher’s most famous recent release was BTS World, grabbing headlines around the world and proving that games can be a vehicle for both entertainment and other media, as the band released a new album through the game.

    Netmarble has more in its locker, StoneAge M, The Seven Deadly Sins and Yokai Watch are all set to perform well.


  • 14 Moon Active

    Moon Active logo

    Israel’s Moon Active has had an incredible year, undoubtedly down to the enormous success of social and interactive title Coin Master.

    Formed in 2011, it wasn’t until the company launched Coin Master in 2016 that the studio started to get some serious traction. At the beginning of February 2019, Coin Master overtook Candy Crush Saga for top grossing games in Great Britain and Ireland and has not let up since.

    As well as its headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel, the company now has a second office in Kiev, Ukraine. The developer says it experienced rapid growth with a four-times increase in 2018, and now employs over 150 staff across both territories.


  • 13 Peak Games

    Peak Games logo

    Turkish developer Peak Games has done something that many developers have struggled to achieve - it’s built on its hit Toy Blast IP with the even more successful Toon Blast.

    The highly engaging titles are both top 25 and top 10 grossers in the US, with the latter reaching the top five.

    Toy Blast hit an estimated $440 million in worldwide revenue last year since its 2015 release, while Toon Blast is said to have swiftly reached $200m in its first year.

    Not shy with spending on UA, after Peak sold its card and board games division to Zynga for $100m, it spent the funds on an ambitious marketing campaign for Toon Blast, which appears to have paid off handsomely.


  • 12 Playrix

    Playrix logo

    Gardenscapes and its follow-up Homescapes are a rare breed in the match-three genre: innovative titles that have spawned a host of imitators across the puzzle games space.

    By adding an engaging narrative to the mix, the team at Playrix now makes what Newzoo claims is $1.2 billion in annual sales, with 30 million DAUs.

    It’s not just those two powerhouses raking in the sales, its other titles Township and Fishdom are also highly successful, albeit not on the same level.

    The studio recently soft-launched Wildscapes, with which it’ll be hoping to make it three for three in the ‘scapes series.


  • 11 Epic Games

    Epic Games logo

    Last year we named Epic Games as the top mobile developer around. Its battle royale sensation Fortnite became a cultural phenomenon that has generated billions of dollars and enabled Epic to grow substantially. It’s raised $1.25 billion, launched the PC-focused Epic Games Store, has plans for an Android marketplace, and is supporting others with free tools and $100m MegaGrants.

    Fortnite may no longer be at its peak, but it’s still bigger than most. Its significant effects on the games industry continue, from leading the charge in cross-platform play to hosting the world’s biggest ever concert with DJ Marshmello with 10.7 million concurrent players.


  • 10 Scopely

    Scopely logo

    Scopely’s knack for publishing hits comes down to its patience to launch the right game at the right time, and its ability to partner the right developers with the right IP. Of course, scooping up investments like the $100m it raised in June 2018 doesn’t hurt.

    In its portfolio - built with astute dev partnerships - it already had strong performers like The Walking Dead: Road to Survival with IUGO Mobile Entertainment, WWE Champions 2019 with Gear, Inc, and Yahtzee With Buddies with Mediatonic.

    But the launch of the excellent strategy game Star Trek Fleet Command, leading to the acquisition of Digit Game Studios, has seen Scopely boldly go where it’s never gone before.

    The title has swiftly officially passed $100 million in lifetime revenue in less than eight months, making it the company’s fastest-growing title ever. Not just performing solidly financially, the strategy game provides rarely seen innovation in the genre to deliver a genuinely entertaining and unique experience on mobile.

    Scopely hit $1 billion in lifetime revenue earlier this year. Given its eye for launching a series of $100m-plus hits, it might be sooner than you think before it hits the $2 billion mark.


  • 9 King

    King logo

    King is going through some big changes at the moment, particularly as owner Activision appears to increasingly exert control over the likes of the mobile maker and Blizzard.

    King CEO Riccardo Zacconi has stepped down as CEO. As part of Activision’s big round of layoffs, King closed its North America studios and is now focusing development operations in Europe.

    In face of the changes, it’s still relying on its classic hit Candy Crush Saga. The IP was a key player in spurring on sales of $2bn in 2018, with MAUs across its portfolio up year-on-year to 272 million in Q1 2019.

    Candy Crush Friends Saga meanwhile appears to have bucked the trend of declining sales for each new entry in the IP as it took an estimated $37.6m in the quarter, above Jelly Saga.

    According to Sensor Tower, the franchise generated a record $391m during those three months. Not just generating IAP sales, King is also growing its ads business too, which is expected to cross the $100m booking threshold this year.

    It also partnered with Snowprint Studios to publish Legend of Solgard. It’s not just Candy Crush though, Farm Heroes Saga crossed $1bn this year. The competition for the company’s throne is rising, but the firm remains the king of casual.


  • 8 ROBLOX

    ROBLOX logo

    At one time flying below the radar, the truth is out about this cross-platform game’s success as it continues to blaze a trail, becoming a serious competitor to Mojang’s blockbuster Minecraft.

    The game has surpassed 100m MAUs earlier this year, with the game also said to have surpassed more than one billion hours worth of engagement each month.

    The impressive figures mark the title as a top destination for its audience of largely young players. It’s estimated that mobile revenue alone for Roblox has rocketed past $750m, with sales led largely by US spenders.

    In September Roblox garnered $150m in funding to fuel its global expansion. It’s used some of that money for M&A activity, acquiring app performance start-up PacketZoom in 2018.

    But the company hopes to add more rocket fuel to its growth after signing a partnership with China’s biggest publisher Tencent to bring the game to the country. The title is being pushed as an educational tool in the region.

    Roblox isn’t just a cash cow for its developer, it is inspiring a new generation of creators, as players can all make their own games using the platform’s built-in tools. And those users can make serious businesses too, with Roblox on track to pay out over $100m to creators in 2019.


  • 7 GungHo Online Entertainment

    GungHo Online Entertainment logo

    We’ve talked about a long decline in Puzzle & Dragons sales for a long time on PocketGamer.biz, though we should note the title is still wildly successful.

    But there’s something fascinating going on at GungHo - it’s turned the ship around for its $7bn monster hit first released in 2012.

    The number of monthly MAUs increased significantly in October and November last year and thus far have remained higher so far than during any period in 2018.

    The publisher pointed to various initiatives such as events, IP collaborations and seventh anniversary celebrations for picking up users and keeping them.

    It’s not just Puzzle & Dragons however. South Korean developer Gravity has significantly grown its sales too. It began rolling out Ragnarok M to Southeast Asia last year, subsequently powering Gravity to a 101.5 per cent year-on-year increase in Q1 sales to $117.5m.

    GungHo finally has a new hit on its hands, leading net sales to increase 60 per cent year-on-year to $319m in Q1 2019.

    How long-lived this resurgence lasts remains to be seen, but GungHo deserves a huge amount of credit for breathing new life into its flagship title while finding a potential new growth driver - two feats that are no small thing.


  • 6 Niantic

    Niantic logo

    After three years on the market, the true nature of the Pokémon Go success story has become ever more apparent. Rivals to the throne like Jurassic World Alive, The Walking Dead Our World and Niantic and Warner Bros’ Harry Potter: Wizards Unite have not even come close.

    Capturing the essence of Pokémon from the get-go, the continued steady cadence of updates, in-game events and unique real-world events have kept Pokémon Go a wildly popular title that can still achieve the not-insignificant feat of getting players out the house.

    Sensor Tower estimates Pokémon Go has made $2.65bn in three years and is on track to hit $3bn by the end of the year.

    SuperData also reported it as the second top grossing mobile game worldwide behind Honor of Kings in June 2019. Wizards Unite’s performance is not to be sniffed out. Performing below wild expectations perhaps, it still generated an estimated $12m in its first month.

    Niantic’s grand ambitions aren’t small. It acquired Marvel Strike Force dev Seismic last year and London studio Sensible object in June, while it also launched Ingress Prime alongside an anime.

    It raised $245m in January 2019 for game development and its Real World Platform that it continues to build to lead the charge for the future of location-based gaming.


  • 5 Voodoo

    Voodoo logo

    French publisher Voodoo has cracked the code for creating a successful ad-focused games business. Developing its own titles and publishing third-party games, Voodoo’s data-driven approach to design has seen it release hit after hit, including Helix Jump, Baseball Boy, Aquapark.io, Snake VS Block and Hole.io.

    Voodoo has become the king of hypercasual games, one of the hottest trends in mobile gaming over the last couple of years, picking up 2.1 billion downloads. The company has more than 300 million monthly active users for its portfolio of 100-plus games. It also claims that it outpaced its nearest hypercasual rivals by 150 per cent between Q4 2018 and Q1 2019 with 771 million downloads in six months.

    Following its $200m investment from Goldman Sachs, the company no doubt has big plans to continue its dominance - starting with its new Berlin studio focused on games development and its continued global expansion that includes a newly formed Istanbul office.

    You can’t think of hypercasual without naming Voodoo, and that’s why it has surged into our top 10 this year.


  • 4 Supercell

    Supercell logo

    Finnish developer Supercell is a star of mobile gaming. All of its first four global releases - Hay Day, Clash of Clans, Boom Beach and Clash Royale - have surpassed $1 billion in revenue.

    It’s also a team essentially full of company CEOs. You couldn’t argue the studio wasn’t full of talent. Yet for nearly three years after Clash Royale’s launch in 2016, Supercell had yet to release another game. A downward decline in its existing portfolio saw sales drop to $1.6 billion in 2017, down from roughly $2bn in 2017 and $2.3bn in 2016.

    But patience is the name of the game for this studio. It’s a billion dollars or bust. PvP shooter Brawl Stars launched in December 2018, offering a fresh and innovative real-time PvP experience to mobile players.

    By June 2019 it had generated 100 million downloads and made $275m in sales, according to Sensor Tower data estimates. But it’s not just new titles. Supercell has taken inspiration from Fortnite’s battle pass by introducing Season Challenges and a Gold Pass to Clash of Clans, inspiring a significant resurgence in sales for its 2012-release.

    Supercell-majority owned studios deserve a shoutout for excellent games too, from Frogmind’s Badland Brawl and Rumble Stars Football to Space Ape’s continued work on Fastlane: Road to Revenge.


  • 3 NetEase

    NetEase logo

    Much like Tencent, NetEase has had to deal with the issues faced by China’s nine-month game freeze and everchanging regulations. In the face of these challenges, the publisher has managed to boost its online games business to an eye-watering $5.8 billion in 2018.

    Success points include battle royale sensation Knives Out, which launched on mobile before heavyweights PUBG and Fortnite, and has been a huge success, particularly in Japan. In 2018 Sensor Tower estimates the game made $465m. Other hits include Fantasy Westward Journey, Identity V and Invincible.

    Not just relying on fortunes at home, the publisher has been aggressively expanding its international presence with new partnerships, investment and even a new R&D studio in Montreal.

    The headline deals include a partnership with Marvel to create original games, TV shows and comics books based on the latter IP, a publishing deal to launch Pokémon Quest in China (the first ever in the country), and of course the development of the somewhat controversial but likely hit-inwaiting Diablo Immortal. It’s also bringing Western hit Contest of Champions to China to boot.

    Meanwhile landmark investments include Behaviour Interactive and Bungie. NetEase certainly isn’t lacking ambition in its aggressive growth strategy.


  • 2 Tencent

    Tencent logo

    China’s biggest games publisher, like many developers in the country, has had some of its growth stilted somewhat by the government’s big nine-month game freeze, from which new regulators are still catching up.

    If any company could weather the storm though, it’s Tencent. Its big performers continued to rake in the cash as Honor of Kings brought in an estimated $1.9 billion in 2018 (not including third-party Android stores). Overall its smartphone games business took $11.3 billion in 2018, up 24 per cent year-on-year.

    Sales fell two per cent year-on-year in Q1 2019 however to a mere $3.1bn. But there have been some big wins in 2019 for Tencent. It’s finally got the greenlight to monetise its PUBG Mobile games after repackaging them as Game for Peace. Sensor Tower claims the game generated $70m in May in China alone, while the international version of PUBG Mobile took $76m.

    Elsewhere Tencent has been releasing hit after hit across different genres, including the Pokémon Go-like Let’s Hunt Monsters, Perfect World, the Diablo-esque Raziel and Crazy Racing KartRider.

    With the game freeze behind it, along with Arena of Valor’s failure in Europe and the US, Tencent has an exciting future to look forward to - one that includes a partnership with The Pokémon Company for new games and Call of Duty Mobile.


  • 1 Zynga

    Zynga logo

    It’s taken Zynga a long while to turn itself around from its fall from grace. Once one of the games industry’s brightest rising stars, its lights soon dimmed as the industry shifted to mobile.

    For years people wondered when the company might turn around its fortunes and stem its quarterly losses - or even if it ever would. It’s tough to deny it’s been a long road to where we are today, a road that included many layoffs and studio closures, but today that company is returning to its former highs.

    Under the stewardship of CEO Frank Gibeau, appointed as the top dog after 23 years at EA, Zynga is back. And what’s more, as Gibeau puts it himself, the company’s turnaround is complete and it's now in growth mode.

    The publisher, thanks to a mix of its own talented developers and aggressive M&A activity, now houses numerous best-in-class games. From Small Giant Games’ Empires & Puzzles and Gram Games’ Merge Dragons to NaturalMotion’s CSR Racing 2 and its own Words With Friends 2, the quality and success of Zynga’s portfolio is rarely matched.

    And that’s before mentioning its social casino business or the roster of huge IP it’s signed, such as Game of Thrones, Star Wars and Harry Potter.

    Perhaps one key difference from the past is Zynga’s eye on the future. It’s been testing emerging markets such as Instant Games and Snap Games early, ready for if the industry winds change again.

    Incredible growth, great games and an epic turnaround are why we’ve named Zynga the number one developer for 2019.


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Fernanda Isabelle Maleplate
Zynga should improve customer service and polítics
Elle Bent SEO at Chamoji
ohh so that is the top 50 mobile game developers. Thank you for info. https://murasaki7.com/en/
Chip Dunn
I.C.Fools too. I'm Guessing MZ does it's ranking by revenue and not customer satisfaction or the validity and playability of the games which leads to no investigatiom of anything. I know because Scumley is the worst company I have ever dealt with and doesn't compensate for the flaws in their own software that is basically designed to steal from everyone. I speak of WWE Superstars game. It has packs for $100 for 3 day events for example. You have no time to use or level anything to make it worthwhile to buy them. Buying packs for a certain item or new wrestler does no good either. It will crash, freeze or lose contact with server which zeroes you out. You buy more to heal your character to try and get things before the times runs out buy them it crashes again and so on. They say sorry you didn't get what you were after we really sympathize with you. What? Give me my stuff back and what I wasn't able to obtain because you rigged it that way, or return my money. They will do neither. Scumley are basically thieves who use tactics to addict you to their games then just take in the dough while laughing every time you hit that Pay Pal button. I wouldn't be surprised if MZ is getting a cut because I know they haven't asked anyone who plays WWE if they like it or if it's a fair game. It definitely is not. Scumley says it is because all summons are random or have the same odds for everyone so that makes it not even a Pay to Win game. Is a pay to play and hope you get anything to compete with game. You will not. I'm surprised they are not higher than #10 the way they rip everyone off. I would bet all their games have the same smokescreen designed to hook teens who get money from their parents, who give it to them so they'll go away or quit bugging them, and they don't even know their money is being wasted and effectively stolen
I. C. FOOLS Tech
Wow, how surprising is it that you all couldn't find a way to undeservingly sneak in your often touted "model for success" Machine Zone, like you've done in previous years.. Truth be told, they didn't deserve to ever be on your list if you had done your due diligence and looked past all the smoke and mirrors illusions MZ tried to create. I am surprised you haven't yet done a piece on their most recent flop that's been in soft launch for over 3 months now, of course it's in a limited market and like most of the others is hiding behind yet another bogus developer name to try and mislead and trick the unsuspecting.

Speaking of unsuspecting and due diligence, did you all read recently how the firm you once bent over backwards to help prop up, swindled millions of $ from the New Zealand Gov't and tax payers? What a model for success MZ is, eh?
Zcube Aces
Cool.
Agnieszka Poszwa
Czarnuszka