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Top 50 Mobile Game Developers of 2014

The shakers, makers and movers
Top 50 Mobile Game Developers of 2014

Welcome to Top 50 Developer list.

It's the fifth year of our annual ranking and one that demonstrates the industry continues to grow quicker than anyone imagined. For example, over the past 12 months, we've seen two games - Puzzle & Dragons and Candy Crush Saga - each generate more than  $1 billion in terms of mobile sales.

The industry isn't just growing, however, it's also evolving; something that can be clearly seen in the significant structural changes that are happening in markets such as Korea, Japan, and China.

So, bigger, more lucrative, more global, more competitive, and more complex are the phrases that describe the current mobile gaming ecosystem.

These are the reasons we welcome 13 new companies - three from Korea and Europe, two from the US, China and Japan, and one from Russia - into 2014's list.

This underlines the global nature of the industry, while the fact that three of those companies head straight into the top 10 remind us that today's newcomers can quickly become tomorrow's leaders.

Yet, let's not forget the six companies who have been sequentially listed for each of the past five years: Backflip Studios, DeNA, EA Mobile, Gameloft, Gamevil, and Glu Mobile may have had various ups and downs over the years, but they also demonstrate that while form is temporary, class remains permanent.

#50: Animoca Brands

Animoca Brands

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Key games: Star Girl, Pretty Pet Salon

Hong Kong developer Animoca discovered a rich vein of form when it launched its female-friendly RPG Star Girl; the franchise is now five games strong and together with the Pretty Pet titles has contributed to the company's 220 million cummulative downloads, mainly on Android.

That's not to say that the company is completely focused on games for girls. It also has the rights to make games using Mr Bean and the Astro Boy anime character.

Nevertheless, it's fashion and beauty that are the company's core, something it will be looking to exploit as it moves into the Chinese market, thanks to its strategic partnership with Forgame.

#49: NimbleBit


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Key games: Pocket Trains, Pocket Planes, Tiny Tower

Despite being a mere three-man development team, US indie NimbleBit just keeps on making the 8-bit pixel art mobile games it wants to make.

2013 saw the release of the Snake-inspired Nimble Quest (also released on the Ouya unconsole) and Pocket Trains, the later being the culmination of the process that started with Pocket Planes.

Oh, and if that's wasn't productive enough for you, NimbleBit also worked on the Disney-released Star Wars: Tiny Death Star, a Star Wars-themed version of 2011's successful Tiny Tower, and is publishing the Milkbag-developer Disco Zoo.

#48: Chair Entertainment

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Chair Entertainment »


Key games: Infinity Blade

Another year, another Infinity Blade. That would be one, cynical, attitude towards the third episode of Chair Entertainment's singular gesture-based slasher.

But in some ways, Infinity Blade III follows directly in the footsteps of its predecessors. It was an extremely successful iOS-only paid game boasting cutting-edge graphics, and repetitive skill-based gameplay, albeit combined with the conclusion of the previous narrative arc.

Yet strip away the $6.99 pricepoint, and more significant was the game's multi-layered IAP economy; a first for the Infinity Blade universe. If only for that reason, it will be fascinating to see what Chair does next, especially assuming it's free-to-play.

#47: Game Insight

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Key games: The Tribez, Tank Domination, Mystery Manor

Now consisting of 17 development studios and over 800 staff, Russian mobile/social developer and publisher Game Insight doesn't do thing by halves. Raising a further $25 million to fund its aggressive growth strategy, it's been pushing out on all fronts.

Historically, its core business has been F2P casual sims such as 20:20 My Country and Airport City, but now it's heavily into hardcore games like Tank Domination and cross-platform MMORPG Dragon Eternity.

It also has a line of succesful hidden object games such as Mystery Manor. And tying everything together are its well honed monetisation techniques.

#46: Nexon


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Key games: KartRider Rush, MapleStory

Nexon, which includes Japanese developer Gloops, generated $291 million mobile game sales in FY2013. On that basis, the PC online F2P specialist is becoming a strong mobile player.

However, given it spent $470 million in 2012 buying Gloops and that FY13 Q4 mobile game sales were down 5 percent, and the picture looks rather different.

The problem is the Japanese market has quickly transitioned from mobile browser games to native apps. Now the challenge is to reinvigorate Gloops for smartphone gaming, while making the most of Nexon's F2P smarts for mobile games in Korea and especially China, which is its biggest market on PC.

#45: Creative Mobile

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Key games: Drag Racing, Drag Racing 4x4, Drag Racing: Bike Edition

It's now over two years since Estonian developer Creative Mobile released Drag Racing on Android. The first game of its type to find global success, the franchise has since expanded with 4x4 and bike editions.

Of course, Creative Mobile now finds itself battling against rivals such as Zynga (NaturalMotion) and Kabam in the genre. Nevertheless, with full sequel Nitro Nation experiencing a long and multi-million-strong beta test prior to a late Q1 release, 2014 looks sure to be another strong year for the developer, which is also using its large player base to act as a publisher for other start-ups.

#44: Miniclip


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Key games: 8 Ball Pool, Fragger, iStunt

If (as was) built its reputation and business on the back of the leisure time of middle-aged housewives, Miniclip's been doing something similar for teens.

Originally a Flash games website, it still releases new games weekly, with the most popular being released on mobile. It's a robust strategy that's seen its download total burst past the 250 million-mark.

In that context, a key recent event has been the release of 8 Ball Pool, which enables mobile and web players to go head-to-head, as a free-to-play game. It's been a top 10 top grossing app in 84 countries.

#43: Plain Vanilla

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Key games: QuizUp

Two of the three facts about Plain Vanilla highlight the excitement of the mobile games industry. In eight short months, it raised over $27 million in venture funding, but despite spending little on marketing, saw its head-to-head trivia game QuizUp launch as the #1 most downloaded iPhone app in the US and the UK.

The third fact - that the game has almost no monetisation - demonstrates the challenge for the Icelandic studio in 2014.

As it rolls the game out for new platforms, and adds support for other languages, it also needs to convert QuizUp's strong retention and virality into commercial success.

#42: Fireproof Games

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Key games: The Room

A start-up out of EA's Criterion Games that was originally a work-for-hire studio, Fireproof Game took full advantage of its console experience on the Burnout franchise when it came to its debut.

Released for iPad and originally priced at $4.99, The Room combines realistic graphics with a quirky and eerie approach to mechanical puzzling; a combination which generated two million sales and an Apple Game of the Year award.

A pocket edition for iPhone and, more recently, The Room Two ($2.99) have seen Fireproof extending its oeuvre, also going cross-platform with Amazon and Android releases.

#41: Ndemic Creations

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Key games: Plague Inc

Demonstrating the efficacy of the games-as-a-service model, James Vaughan (aka Ndemic Creations) continues to fulfill the desires of the millions of players of Plaque Inc, who wish for nothing less than new diseases with which to wipe out the world's population.

Published by Miniclip on Android, the 99c with IAP title continues to perform most strongly on iPhone, where it has been a top 100 top grossing game in key markets such as the US and EUR5 since its July 2012 release.

That's the result of seven major updates, bringing players new scenarios, gameplay modes and diseases.

#40: Shanda Games

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Key titles: Million Arthur, Legends of the World, Chain Chronicle

As with many big Chinese game companies, Shanda Games generates the majority of its revenue from online games including Dungeons & Dragons and Ragnarok Online. Its mobile game sales are rising very fast, however, generating $60 million in the first nine months of 2013.

Shanda has been particularly successful in terms of mobile publishing, with Square Enix's Million Arthur being a top grossing game in China, Korea and Taiwan, and it's recently licensed Sega's Chain Chronicle for China and Korea. The company is also heavily involved in development, with over 30 games in the works.

#39: Ubisoft


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Key games: Assassin's Creed Pirates, Rayman Fiesta Run

Mobile gaming remains a bit of a problem for French publisher Ubisoft. While there's no doubting its brands when it comes to PC and console games, the different approach required by mobile is proving difficult to embed in company culture. That's one reason it acquired UK mobile studio Future Games of London.

Still, recent releases such as Assassin's Creed Pirates, Rayman Fiesta Run and Rabbids Big Bang suggest it's heading in the right direction, even if it's yet to demonstrate it really gets the free-to-play rollercoaster. We should learn more with the upcoming release of Battle of Heroes and CSI: Hidden Crimes.

#38: Halfbrick Studios

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Key games: Fruit Ninja, Jetpack Joyride

Known for the massive success of games such as Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, Australian developer Halfbrick continues to focus on the quality of its output.

During 2013, it released two original games - Fish out of Water and Colossatron: Massive World Threat - both of which are unlike anything else you'll find on any app store.

Significantly, Halfbrick also kept to its strategy of releasing paid games; both were 99c with IAP. Yet, despite critical acclaim, neither game has set the charts alight, nor did the F2P band management game Band Star, which it published for fellow Australian developer Six Foot Kid.

#37: ZeptoLab


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Key games: Cut the Rope

Russian developer ZeptoLab has experienced a busy ten months, releasing two new games in its highly popular Cut the Rope franchise. Cut the Rope: Time Travel further experimented on 2012's brand extension Cut the Rope: Experiments, while the game got a full sequel in late 2013 with the release of Cut the Rope 2 for iOS.

Interestingly, the company has continued its paid game strategy, although also introducing a range of in-app purchases. As other companies have found, this hasn't been without some robust audience feedback; something to consider as it plans its next original IP releases.

#36: Imangi Studios

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Key games: Temple Run

Like the genre it spawned, Temple Run appears to be a game that offers endless success.

The two official versions from husband-and-wife team Imangi Studios have now hit a lifetime total of 500 million downloads. The only franchises that can match it are Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja, and like those games, Temple Run's cultural force is now beyond what you'd expect from a mobile game.

There's been a tie-in with Usain Bolt, not to mention Disney-spin offs, Temple Run: Brave and Temple Run: Oz, and all the expected merchandising options - from clothings and plushes to rumours of a movie.

#35: Simogo


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Key games: Device 6, Year Walk

No studio better characterises the new wave of indies who are stretching the boundaries of mobile gaming than Swedish outfit Simogo.

It consists of just two people, who release high polished and high conceptual paid games for Apple devices. For example, 2012's Beat Sneak Bandit was a time-based puzzler, while 2013's releases - Year Walk and Device 6 - respectively explored the mysteries of the Swedish forest in winter, and surreal non-linear problem-solving.

Sure, none of its games are million-sellers but none-the-less, Simogo is building itself a reputation as one of the most imaginative developers on the App Store.

#34: Kiloo


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Down 17

Key games: Subway Surfers

It may not have invented the endless runner, but Danish developer Kiloo Games has certainly demonstrated a deep understanding of the genre's longterm potential.

Together with co-developer Sybo, it's been running Subway Surfers using the games-as-a-service model since its May 2012 launch. And that constant stream of updates in terms of character customisation, weekly events and new locations - across iOS, Amazon and especially Google Play - has kept the game riding high globally, where it remains a fixture in the top 100 download charts, but more importantly, the top grossing charts too.

#33: Chukong Technologies

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Key titles: Fishing Joy, Contra: Evolution, Galaxy Factions

2013 has been another strong year for Chukong. It closed a $50 million funding round, using the cash to invest in its Cocos cross-platform engine, which is used by many 2D games in the Asian market, as well as building out its development and publishing businesses.

Chukong is already well placed in China, where its Fishing Joy franchise has been downloaded over 200 million times, generating more than $6 million on a monthly basis.

The company has a strong international presence too, developing Contra: Evolution for Konami and publishing US developer Faceroll's Galaxy Factions strategy game globally under its new Coco Entertainment label.

#32: Social Quantum

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Key games: Megapolis

Starting out as a developer for social networks like Odnoklassniki, VK and Facebook, Russian developer Social Quantum's focus has been shifting towards mobile.

As with similar developers, its first success has been porting its key social game; in this case Megapolis. Released in late 2012, thanks to Social Quantum's monetisation expertise, the city-building title has been massively successful globally on iOS and Google Play, going top 10 top grossing in over 100 countries.

Now, however, the company is looking to replicate that success, with most recent releases Dragons World and Atlantis Adventure already gaining some traction.

#31: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

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Key games: Injustice: Gods Among Us, Batman: Arkham Origins

With annual revenues of $30 billion, mobile games don't move the needle for TimeWarner, but its interactive division - notably in the form of internal studio NetherRealm - has shown its smarts in two key titles.

Both beat-'em ups, Batman: Arkham Origins and especially Injustice: Gods Among Us, which was #1 top grossing on iOS in 50 countries, demonstrate the combination of strong brands and high quality presentation.

Of course, Warner Bros. has plenty of other studios and IP, with the LEGO games from TTGames, and movie tie-ins such as Man of Steel, Pacific Rim and 300 filling out its release schedule.

#30: Wooga GmbH

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Key games: Jelly Splash, Diamond Dash

Originally a Facebook-only developer, German social company Wooga had its first big mobile hit in 2012 with Diamond Dash. Now balancing its business equally between web and mobile, often syncing its games for a seamless experience, Wooga followed up with another big social success in 2013.

Redefining the match-3 puzzler, Jelly Splash demonstrated the outfit wasn't a one-hit wonder. It's been a top 10 top grossing game in 89 countries.

Other releases such as Monster World - a standalone version of the Facebook game - and mobile-first Pocket Village are yet to find their audience.

#29: SundayToz


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Key games: Anipang for Kakao

Originally focused on social web games, the big break for SundayToz came with the opening of a Korean social gaming platform.

But, no, it wasn't KakaoTalk. Three years before Kakao, SundayToz's games had four million players on the Cyworld web App Store. These included a version of Anipang, its cute social match-3 game that proved to be so successful on Kakao during 2013.

With over 20 million downloads, Anipang for Kakao peaked at 10 million daily players; popularity SundayToz is now building on with releases such as Anipang Tycoon and Anipang Mahjong.

#28: Nordeus


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Key games: Top Eleven

It's not just King that has taken advantage of the ability for players to move seamlessly between Facebook and mobile devices.

Serbian outfit Nordeus not only stole a march on the competition with its free-to-play football management game Top Eleven, but it quickly extended its success on Facebook to iOS and particularly Android, where it's had over 10 million downloads.

Combined with support for 40 languages, the result is a game with 12 million monthly and 5 million daily players, which has been top 10 top grossing in 120 countries.

#27: GREE


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Key games: Knights & Dragons, Modern War, Crime City

In last year's top 50 list, we remarked that things could only get better for GREE. How wrong we were. Like DeNA, GREE has been hit hard by the downturn in the Japanese feature phone gaming business, as well as the rise of GungHo's Puzzle & Dragons.

The result is that sales are down - although still $1.5 billion in FY13 - while profits are down a lot, partly as GREE has cancelled 27 games at the cost of $53 million. The one bright spark, though, is that international sales are increasing; something reinforced by the success of the Canadian co-developed Knights & Dragons.

#26: Pocket Gems

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Key games: Animal Voyage, Tap Paradise, Campus Life

The bottomline for US social games developer and publisher Pocket Gems in 2013 was good. The privately-held company announced annual revenue up 32 percent to $82 million. That performance was driven by its core casual titles such as Animal Voyage and Tap Paradise.

Now, however, it's branching out, with a publishing initiative that's seen it successfully hook up with developers such as Twyngo and Dreamfab. And it's looking to hone its internal chops too, breaking into new genres, releasing a hidden object game Secret Passage and midcore RPG Epic Empire. It also worked with the NFL and McDonald's, releasing NFL Runner: Football Dash.

#25: Mojang


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Key games: Minecraft - Pocket Edition

It remains difficult to contextualise Minecraft - Pocket Edition within the broader mobile gaming community. Priced at $6.99, it's the paid game outlier that since 2011 has remained glued into the global top 50 top grossing charts on iOS, Google Play and Amazon, selling millions of copies in the process.

Of course, its success is not as a mobile game. Its success on mobile is purely a by-product of its wider adoption as a cultural, creative experience for teenage boys. Indeed, such is its ubiquity, it's now used a wider discovery mechanism, as demonstrated by the App Store button asking 'If you like... Minecraft'.

#24: Backflip Studios

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Key games: DragonVale, NinJump, Paper Toss

The big news from Backflip last year was Hasbro spending $112 million for a 70 percent stake in the US developer. Of course, the reason for the deal was the continued success of F2P game DragonVale, which two years on from its release ranked as the 13th top grossing iPhone game in the US in 2013.

Aside from this, Backflip has been investing in the future. The studio is now 100-strong, and has big plans for 2014 including new IP Dwarven Den (currently soft-launched), a publishing arm, and future interactions in terms of exploiting Hasbro's brands in mobile, as well as bringing DragonVale to new markets.

#23: Locojoy


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Key titles: I AM MT

Released early in 2013, Locojoy's card-battler, inspired by Blizzard's World of Warcraft and an unofficial anime show, has been the smash hit of the Chinese iOS mobile games market. Akin to a Chinese version of GungHo's Puzzle & Dragons, I AM MT was the #1 top grossing iPhone title for nine months.

It's been a impressive turnaround for Beijing-based developer which CEO Shanhu Xing revealed almost shut down during 2012 after its first five games flopped. In fact, its only disappointment has been the comparative failure of I AM MT when released globally under the name Epic Heroes.

#22: Rovio


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Key games: Angry Birds Go!, Angry Birds Star Wars II, Angry Birds Friends

As we pointed out in last year's Top 50 list, the big challenge for Rovio during 2013 was getting to grips with free-to-play gaming. When it comes to offering amazing value on its core 99c/$2.99 Angry Birds games, Rovio can't be beaten, but the market has moved on.

Angry Birds Go! is the company's first ground-up F2P title, but while it's a well-presented experience that launched well, it hasn't yet caught the imagination and demonstrated sustained success. Still given it has 2 billion downloads and 200 million monthly active players, there's plenty of opportunity for Rovio to reinvent itself.

#21: Devsisters


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Key games: Cookie Run for Kakao

One of the Korean studios to ride the Kakao train to success, Devsisters is no flash in the pan. Founded in 2009, the now 55-strong developer had been working on its OvenBreak games for almost four years until it released a version of the side-scrolling endless runner for Kakao.

Cookie Run for Kakao has been the top grossing game in Korea on iOS and Google Play, and 11 months on remains in the top 10 top grossing charts. Indeed, such was its success that for three months of 2013, Devsisters ranked as one of top 10 global companies on Google Play by revenue.

#20: Disney Mobile Studios

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Key games: Where's My Water?, Where's My Mickey?, Infinity: Toy Box

2013 proved to be tricky year for Disney's mobile game developers. They launched plenty of new content, but the Mickey Mouse version of Where's My Water? didn't catch the gamers' imagination, despite its craft.

Meanwhile, the franchise's first proper free-to-play release caused a storm of protest over its energy mechanic. Standard for many F2P games, it apparently wasn't acceptable for a Disney game and was subsequently removed.

Yet there were successes too. The Chinese-culturalised Where's My XiYangYang? demonstrated a global vision, while the Disney Infinity tie-in Toy Box extended the brand to iPad.

#19: Glu Mobile

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Key games: Deer Hunter 2014, Eternity Warriors 3, Frontline Commando

The perennial question of when Glu Mobile will post a profitable year remains unanswered. Yet the signs are improving, thanks mainly to one game - Deer Hunter 2014. It generated $27 million in Q4, increasing the company's revenue for the period by 32 percent. Annual sales for 2013 were down a touch, however, to $106 million.

Still, the quality of Glu's games is increasing, as are its community and monetisation techniques, while franchises such as Frontline Commando, Contract Killer and Eternity Warriors provide a solid basis for growth. Although what its Kim Kardashian game will be like is anyone guess.

#18: Big Fish

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Key games: Big Fish Casino, Fairway Solitaire

Demonstrating how quickly the industry is changing, 2013 saw US casual developer and publisher Big Fish Games make some key decisions.

The most important was focusing on its free-to-play mobile business; something which lifted games such as Big Fish Casino and Fairway Solitaire to higher levels of success. Indeed, Big Fish Casino is now the top grossing casino game on iOS, with revenues up 250 percent year-on-year.

This helped push Big Fish's annual sales - across mobile and PC - to $275 million.

However, the year wasn't with its struggles, with Big Fish shutting down its Unlimited streaming service and closing its Vancouver office.

#17: DeNA Co.,Ltd.

DeNA Co.,Ltd.

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Key games: Transformers Legends, MARVEL War of Heroes, The Drowning

Despite being one of the largest mobile gaming companies with annual sales of $2 billion, 2013 was a year of upheaval for DeNA. Its core Japanese market rapidly moved from feature phone to native smartphone gaming. Combined with this, there weren't any big hits on its Mobage platform such as Rage of Bahamut and Blood Brothers in 2012.

Card-battlers Transformers Legends and MARVEL War of Heroes performed robustly, but The Drowning and Lawless - two games from its western division - failed to make any impact.

The result saw sales drop 20 percent, something DeNA hopes to turnaround by releasing more casual and midcore titles in 2014.

#16: Square Enix

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Key games: Million Arthur, DQM Super Light, Tomb Raider

Square Enix (also including Eidos and Taito) is finally demonstrating that it gets mobile gaming. Sure, outside of Japan, the core of its business often appears to be limited to porting over Final Fantasy games and charging $15, but in Asia, it's demonstrating free-to-play success.

Developed by Shanda Games-owned Actoz Soft, Million Arthur has been a top grossing game in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China, while the Cygames-developed Dragon Quest Monster Super Light currently rules the Japanese charts.

If it can combine such smarts with western brands such as Tomb Raider, Hitman and Deus Ex, Square Enix's mobile future will be very bright.

#15: WeMade Entertainment

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Key games: Wind Runner, Wolf Moon, Iron Slam, Dog Fight

Previously known for PC MMOGs, Korean publisher WeMade started investing heavily in mobile games during 2012. That decision paid off big time in 2013, with mobile game revenue rising over 1,000 percent to $132 million. That's 62 percent of the company's total sales.

The key performer is Wind Runner, a casual side-scrolling game which proved to be ideal for the new social mobile networks such as Kakao and LINE.

Versions of the game have been popular in Korea and Japan. Now WeMade is looking to build on that success with titles likes Wolf Moon, Iron Slam and Dog Fight, which Kabam will publish internationally.

#14: Gameloft


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Key games: Despicable Me: Minions Rush, Asphalt 8: Airborne

2013 proved to be an interesting year for Gameloft. In terms of business, its financials numbers were good. Sales were up 12 percent to $320 million, while the global success of Despicable Me: Minions Rush saw the company riding high in terms of the downloads charts.

Lifetime downloads across iOS and Android now total more than 800 million, and it has over 150 million active users per month across all titles.

Yet, surprisingly, 34 percent of revenues are still generated from feature phone games, and Gameloft is still to have a massive breakout free-to-play hit that demonstrates it can operate games-as-a-service.

#13: CyberAgent


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Key games: DQM Super Light, Rage of Bahamut, Legend of the Cryptids

While its businesses includes online advertising and its Ameba social platform, Japanese mobile conglomerate CyberAgent is interesting in this context for its mobile game developers Cygames, Applibot and Sumzap.

They've been performing excellently, with annual sales up 25 percent to $570 million thanks to their ability to ride the transition of the Japanese market from feature phones browser games to native smartphone gaming.

Legacy card-battlers such as Mobage's Rage of Bahamut and Legend of the Cryptids continue to do well, but more recently, it's the Square Enix-published Dragon Quest Monster Super Light (from Cygames), which has been ripping up the Japanese top grossing chart.

#12: Tencent


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Key titles: WeRun, We Love Erasing Everyday, Airplane War

China's internet giant, Tencent has been leading the charge from PC to mobile, notably with its QQ instant messenger and WeChat mobile social platform. These bring virality to social mobile games; something Tencent has demonstrated with titles such as WeRun and Airplane War.

They've been downloaded hundreds of millions of times, boosting Tencent into the global top 10 in terms of iOS games revenue.

The question of how Tencent opens up WeChat for thirdparties remains unresolved, however. To-date, only western titles such as Plants vs Zombies 2 have been released. Widening access will reposition Tencent as China's dominant mobile games company.

#11: Storm8


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Key games: Candy Blast Mania, Dragon Story, War of Dragons

One of the pioneers of social mobile gaming, San Francisco-based Storm8 continues to go from strength to strength.

Operating under the TeamLava, Ice and FireMocha and Shark Party brands, the company ranked as one of the top 10 global companies by revenue on iOS every month during 2013. Other impressive figures are 10 million daily active users, 50 million monthly active users and 600 million downloads.

Next up for the company is a switch of roles as it moves from being a developer to publishing third-party games, with Mad Head's War of Dragons - a #1 top grossing game in China - its first release.

#10: Colopl


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Key games: Quiz RPG: The World of Mystic Wiz, Professional Baseball Pride

A highly prolific Japanese game publisher, Colopl has risen to the fore due to its performance on Google Play. It's a top 10 ranked company by global revenue on the Android app store thanks in the main to Quiz RPG: The World of Mystic Wiz.

Boosted by a domestic TV advertising campaign to over 17 million downloads, the game, which mixes trivia questions with card-battling RPG gameplay, was a fixture in the Japanese Google Play top grossing top 10 (also top 20 on the App Store) for most of 2013.

An English language version has since been released, although it's yet to find the wider success of Puzzle & Dragons.

Colopl isn't a one-trick company, though, with games such as Professional Baseball Pride and its Kuma the Bear franchise - something it uses for cheap user acquisition - rocketing the company's annual sales in 2013 by 230 percent to $170 million.

#9: Netmarble


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Key games: Monster Taming, Everybody's Marble for Kakao, 2013 for Kakao

Part of the CJ Group - a conglomerate with activities ranging from logistics and home shopping to pharmaceutics, biotechnology, food and entertainment - CJ E&M is Korean's largest media company. As well as mobile apps and games, it has its fingers in music, TV, movie theatres and shopping malls.

When it comes to mobile content, however, CJ E&M's rise has been on the coat-tails of Korean mobile messaging service KakaoTalk. Particularly strong on Android, it's released dozens of titles, with the revenue generated from the like of Monster Taming and Everybody's Marble for Kakao placing CJ E&M as the third top grossing company globally on Google Play, behind GungHo and King.

Of course, the vast bulk of its players are Korean, yet as the Kakao platform spreads globally - notably throughout southeast Asia, Turkey and parts of Europe, CJ E&M's simple, social games will have the potential to find an even larger audience.

#8: Zynga


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Key games: CSR Racing, Words With Friends, FarmVille, Zynga Poker

No one spends $527 million on goodwill (although it sometimes ends up being accounted for in this way). Nevertheless, Zynga's surprise move to acquire UK studio NaturalMotion for that amount boosts the combined entity into our top 10.

NaturalMotion had a strong 2013, in which it strengthened its CSR Racing franchise with the release of effective expansion pack CSR Classics. The much vaunted Clumsy Ninja also impressed from a technical point of view, and no doubt, there's plenty more to come from the studio in 2014.

Yet even without the deal, Zynga's new management is clearly ready to do what's required to turn around the struggling company. Headcount has been further cut and mobile gaming is now the focus, with the company's casino games and Words With Friends already performing better financially.

Sure, there's a long way to go to regain profitability, but the worm has turned, and Zynga still has $1.1 billion in cash for further acquisition opportunities.

#7: Gamevil


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Key games: Monster Warlord, Fishing Superstars, Dark Avenger, Zenonia

2013 proved to be a banner year for Korean publisher Gamevil. Financially it demonstrated growth with its international business performing well and annual sales up 16 percent to $76 million.

Yet where the company particularly impressed has been its corporate development where it's been actively pursuing investment and equity deals with developers and rivals alike. Of course, the headline move was its $65 million acquisition of its larger Korean outfit Com2uS. The result is a company with combined annual sales of around $150 million and global scale in both development and publishing.

Gamevil has doubled down too, snapping up key partners such as Dark Avenger studio Boolean and Monster Warlord developer Everple, and investing in half a dozen more. This will create its own administrative issues, but when combined with a strong release schedule in the coming months, Gamevil certainly has the opportunity to really shine during 2014.

#6: Machine Zone

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Key games: Game of War - Fire Age

Active in iOS strategy games since 2009 under its previous label Addmired, Machine Zone rebranded in March 2012 on the back of a $8 million investment round.

That's been money very well spent as its hardcore iOS city-building PVP strategy title Game of War proved to be one of 2013's breakout successes. Slowly but surely it crept up the top grossing charts, hitting the #1 spot in 29 countries, and going top 10 in a further 52, including gaining the #3 position in the US and UK.

Because, as other developers have looked to make games for a more midcore audience, Game of War goes hard against that grain; being more complicated and heavily focused on relationships created through a deep alliance system. Significantly, it's also built on this devotion, self-seeding global success thanks to an in-game user-generated chat translation system.

#5: Kabam


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Key games: The Hobbit, Kingdoms of Middle-earth, Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North, Fast & Furious 6: The Movie

Kabam was already a successful free-to-play publisher before it went mobile, but since that decision its annual sales have increased 80 percent and then 100 percent, hitting $360 million for 2013.

Of this amount, around 70 percent comes from its mobile games, notably PVP strategy games The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth and Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North.

Well balanced in terms of its success across iOS and Android, Kabam's plan is now to build out with new IP such as the internally-developed Dark District as well as published games. For example, it has the western rights to the mobile version of Chinese MMOG Wartune. It's also looking to expand from its core strategy genre with the more pick-up-and-play multiplayer actioneer Blast Zone.

For, as with King, the rumoured goal for the company is to demonstrate the widening of success prior to an IPO.

#4: King


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Key games: Candy Crush Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, Farm Heroes Saga

While Puzzle & Dragons was the most profitable game of 2013, the year's other billion dollar game - Candy Crush Saga - is the poster child for popular casual mobile gaming. Indeed, there are many similarities between the two; from their object matching gameplay to serendipitous timing in terms of gaining an audience spending more and more of its leisure time glued to smartphones.

The big difference with Candy Crush Saga, however, has been the scale of its playing audience, which has been much larger and more global, if less lucrative on a per user basis than Puzzle & Dragons' niche slice.

So now the challenge for King is to ensure it can migrate those players - and their Facebook-connected friends - over to its newer mobile games such as Pet Rescue Saga and Farm Heroes Saga. This is particular vital as 73 percent of its $1.9 billion in revenue in 2013 came from mobile gamers.

#3: EA Mobile

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Key games: FIFA 14, Plants vs. Zombies 2, The Simpsons: Tapped Out, Real Racing 3

EA Mobile continues to perform, despite being tethered to a console-focused company that is still struggling financially, being both loss-making and declining in terms of revenue.

That's not the situation for the mobile part of the business, however, which remains in rude health, both financially and creatively. FY13 sales were up 26 percent to $339 million, while games such as Real Racing 3, Plants vs. Zombies 2 and Dungeon Keeper demonstrate its designers are not afraid of reinventing old franchises for the free-to-play era.

Yet, the year has not been without issues; notably an audience that seems to get more enjoyment in criticising EA's mobile games than playing them. Still, with The Simpsons: Tapped Out continuing to motor along - it's now generated over $130 million in lifetime sales - EA Mobile remains a global player, both on Android and iOS.

#2: Supercell


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Key games: Clash of Clans, Hay Day

Having generated $892 million from (two) mobile games in 2013 - the second highest annual total ever - Supercell might feel aggrieved to drop one position in this year's Developer Top 50, even to sister developer GungHo Online. But that's the slight margin at the top of the most successful sector of the games industry.

Of course, many self-styled Supercellians won't care one jot. Notable for their rejection of "common" success metrics such as revenue, profit or ranking, the only thing that matters to them will be maintaining the now global success of Clash of Clans and Hay Day.

During 2013, the games were finally released on Android, also gaining traction in previously unvisited markets such as Japan and China. That's one area where the company can rightly claim to be the best in the world. Next up, there's the small matter of the company's third release, the "risky" strategy game Boom Beach - due in March.

#1: GungHo Online Entertainment

GungHo Online Entertainment

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Key games: Puzzle & Dragons

You can't argue with the first mobile game to generate $1 billion. That's the situation with GungHo Online's singularly successful Puzzle & Dragons.

In many ways, it's a simple experience; one which draws on the monetisation legacy of Japanese card-collection games, combined with easy-to-start-hard-to-master gem matching gameplay. What was crucial, however, was timing. With the highly lucrative Japanese mobile gaming market switching from mobile browser games to native apps, it was right place, right time for Puzzle & Dragons to ride Japan's transition to iOS and Android.

While the majority of revenues still come from Japan, the game's success has spread to Korea, North America and parts of Europe, where it continues to rise up the top grossing charts.

GungHo has also managed the operational side of the game with skill, cross-promoting with brands like Hello Kitty and games such as Clash of Clans and Batman: Arkham Origins.