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The Top 50 Mobile Game Developers of 2018

Revealed: the movers, shakers and moneymakers!
The Top 50 Mobile Game Developers of 2018

Welcome to's Top 50 developer list for 2018

At last, we're able to reveal the latest of our Top 50 best mobile game developer lists. Revealed in a ceremony in Cologne, Germany, to coincide with Gamescom 2018, it's our countdown of the best in the industry. You can watch a video of the countdown here.

Selected by the experts at, together with external advisors, this list rounds up the hottest global games companies from across the sector. The list and the event were sponsored by Mintegral, with UPLTV and Xhance as associates.

Each year the Top 50 is based on a combination of factors: the most exciting games, genuine innovation, money made, influence, potential, and company growth this year, among others.

2018 trends

This is supposed to be a mature and consolidating market, yet there’s something of an air of change in the mobile games market – whether that’s the old guard slowly falling away and new stars rising, or the live ops approach that’s keeping old games alive and even renewing success.

This year’s Top 50 Mobile Developer list encapsulates that change. There are 19 new companies named and ranked. Many are quiet, emerging innovators. Some have stormed in quickly and loudly.

The old guard that remain, meanwhile, have typically doubled down on live operations to slow long-term declines or, in some cases even increase revenues of the biggest titles years later. Games-as-a-service is a hot buzz phrase across the industry, and nowhere is it more prevalent or astutely executed as in mobile.

Interconnected industry

Last year’s list saw Asia dominate with 20 entries from the region. This year, that’s been cut to 17, while North America has taken over the largest share of companies with 18 entrants. Europe has 14 developers on the list.

But to break down regions by HQ is too simple in an increasingly consolidated market. Chinese influence has only increased on the Western market, as Tencent, NetEase and Netmarble splash the cash on investments. Warner Bros and Zynga, meanwhile, have purchased studios such as Playdemic and Gram Games, meaning their success does not emanate solely from home.

You can download a PDF copy of this Top 50 list from your Profile area if you're signed in.

Or read on to discover who’s the year’s cream of the crop in the mobile games industry.

#50: Aristocrat Leisure

Aristocrat Leisure

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Aristocrat Leisure »

HQ: Sydney, Australia
Key staff: Trevor Croker (Aristocrat Leisure CEO), Jeff Karp (Big Fish Games MD), Avi Shalel (Plarium CEO)
Key games: Big Fish Casino, Vikings: War of Clans, Throne: Kingdom at War, Lost Island: Blast Adventure
Structure: ASX:ALL
M&A: Acquired Big Fish Games for $990m and Plarium for $500m

It wasn’t so long ago that Australian casino company Aristocrat Leisure had little reason to be on this list. Its main business, after all, has been gambling.

But in the last year that all changed with acquisitions of Big Fish Games for $990m and Plarium for $500m.

For $1.5bn it’s got Big Fish’s wide-ranging portfolio, including the highly lucrative Big Fish Casino, a US top 40 grossing title, and Plarium’s capable development team responsible for Vikings: War of Clans and Throne: Kingdom at War.

Plarium is said to have increased Aristocrat’s digital revenues from 14% to 22% already following the purchase, and has since expanded into the casual genre.

#49: Buried Signal

Buried Signal

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Buried Signal »

HQ: Berkeley California
Sales: Undisclosed
Headcount: One
Key staff: Jason Roberts (Lead developer)
Key games: Gorogoa
Structure: Independent

Despite taking around six years to develop, Buried Signal’s (Jason Roberts’s) maiden voyage into the mobile market has proven worth the wait.

Artistic puzzler Gorogoa has snagged seven awards including a BAFTA for debut game and GDC award for most innovative title.

It’s a story of a boy seeking an encounter with a divine monster, exploring themes of spirituality and religion.

What makes the game stand out, however, is the lavish illustrations and interactive backdrops that form the puzzle.

In an age where publishers are hesitant to back premium indie titles, Annapurna Interactive can consider itself handsomely rewarded for getting behind Gorogoa.

#48: Nerial


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Nerial »

HQ: London
Sales: Undisclosed
Key staff: Francois Alliot (Founder)
Key games: Reigns: Her Majesty, Reigns
Structure: Independent

The end of 2017 saw Nerial follow up its swipe-to-rule story-driven game Reigns with Reigns: Her Majesty.

Rather than a king, this time around players are whisked back to medieval times in the role of queen.

The choice and consequence element remains but this time around players can also collect items that affect the outcome.

One of its predecessor’s most cunning quirks is how it teases the way modern societies deal with complexity, like Brexit for example.

At a time when major development companies are cautious of political and societal messages, could Reigns: Her Majesty be any more wonderfully indie?

#47: Animoca Brands

Animoca Brands

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Animoca Brands »

HQ: Hong Kong
Sales: $3.4 million (Q1 2018)
Headcount: c.120
Key staff: Robby Yung (CEO)
Key games: Crazy Defense Heroes, Crazy Kings
Structure: ASX: AB1
M&A: Raised $4.5m through oversubscribed share placement; Received $1m investment; Purchased 60% stake in blockchain service Fuel Powered; Signed Chinese CryptoKitties deal; Sold casual games portfolio to iCandy for $3.8m

Animoca Brands continued to grow its partnerships over the last year, finding new avenues for emerging technologies.

It furthered its interest in blockchain with the 60% acquisition of service developer Fuel Powered and the beta launch of CryptoKitties in China.

The Hong Kong-based publisher also entered into partnership with HTC, to explore blockchain, AI and mixed reality technologies.

It’s not all experiments with new toys. Animoca Brands’s revenue grew to A$3.4m in Q1, thanks in large part to the success of mobile title Crazy Defense Heroes. And it raised a further $4.5m through an oversubscribed share placement this summer.

#46: Outplay Entertainment Ltd

Outplay Entertainment Ltd

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Outplay Entertainment Ltd »

HQ: Dundee, UK
Sales: Undisclosed
Headcount: c. 200
Key staff: Douglas Hare (CEO, Co-founder), Richard Hare (President, Co-founder)
Key games: Crafty Candy, Castle Creeps TD, Sniper Strike: Special Ops
Structure: Private
M&A: “Not actively looking” at the present time

A fresh rebrand marks a promising year for Outplay Entertainment, as the Dundee company attempts to position itself as “uplifting, approachable and authentic”.

The studio grabbed the title of Scotland’s fastest growing tech company after increasing its revenues by 1,904% between 2013 and the end of 2017. Its titles include Castle Creeps, Crafty Candy and Booty Quest.

Outplay Entertainment acquired Derby-based studio EightPixelsSquare at the end of 2016, which is responsible for less casual fare such as Raid HQ.

Outplay continues to expand, hiring King alum Luis de la Camara as global VP of marketing, and setting up the Outplay Academy talent development programme.

#45: Game Insight

Game Insight

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Game Insight »

HQ: Vilnius, Lithuania
Sales: Undisclosed
Headcount: 600
Key staff: Anatoly Ropotov (CEO)
Key games: Guns of Boom, The Tribez, Trade Island, The New Mystery Manor
Structure: Private

This time last year, Game Insight’s breakout FPS Guns of Boom passed 10 million downloads after just two months online.

The studio held lofty ambitions for the first-person shooter, partnering with ESL to fund an inaugural $200,000 Guns of Boom esports league.

At the end of last year, it was on our shortlist for the Mobile Games Awards Game of the Year.

Now in 2018 the studio is set on expanding its “Boom” IP to a wider range of genres, alongside a significant push into the casual games market.

New titles include Trade Island, which has already hit one million players.

#44: Moonton


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Moonton »

HQ: Beijing, China
Sales: Undisclosed
Key staff: Xu Zhenhua (CEO)
Key games: Mobile Legends: Bang Bang
Structure: Private

Tencent’s Arena of Valor may take the headlines, but there’s another mobile MOBA quietly giving that title a run for its money on the international stage.

Chinese developer Moonton Technology has carefully built up Mobile Legends as a top grosser across Southeast Asia. In key Western markets such as the UK, US, Germany and France, it’s also outperforming Tencent’s behemoth by a considerable distance.

Moonton has been the subject of legal news recently. A copyright lawsuit filed by League of Legends developer Riot was dismissed by the California Central District Court. Tencent Shanghai filed a labour dispute case against Moonton’s CEO Xu Zhenhua which resulted in a fine, although the two cases are not related.

#43: Small Giant Games

Small Giant Games

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Small Giant Games »

HQ: Helsinki, Finland
Sales: Undisclosed
Key staff: Timo Soininen (CEO)
Key games: Empires & Puzzles
Structure: Private
M&A: Raised $41m, following a prior $5.7m funding round

Spawned during Finland’s games start-up frenzy, Helsinki-basd Small Giant Games is the brainchild of former Sulake boss Timo Soininen.

In its first couple of years the developer released physics-based flyer Oddwings Escape. But it didn’t prove to be the hit Small Giant Games was looking for. So the studio set about shifting away from casual, with match-three RPG Empires & Puzzles.

And it was a smart move. The superbly-crafted title led to a $5.7m funding round followed by a further $41m investment in 2018. Empires & Puzzles has become the hit the studio craved, and it is steadily rising up the charts, breaking into the US top 100 grossing list.

#42: N3TWORK


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HQ: San Francisco, USA
Sales: Undisclosed
Key staff: Neil Young (CEO)
Key games: Legendary: Game of Heroes
Structure: Private
M&A: Acquired user acquisition platform Agamemnon in 2017

Set up by former ngmoco CEO and DENA director Neil Young, N3twork hasn’t been particularly loud about its operations.

But just because it’s quiet, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been busy. Its flagship game, match-three RPG Legendary: Game of Heroes, is a regular top 100 grosser in the US, with site Deconstructor of Fun referring to the game as a “master class” in live operations. By embedding live events deeply into the core loop, the title has been able to grow from strength to strength over the years.

Beyond Legendary: Game of Heroes, N3twork is busy building a new advertising platform for developers, having bought Eric Seufert’s user acquisition platform Agamemnon in 2017.

#41: Ubisoft


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Ubisoft »

HQ: Paris, France
Sales: $464m (for the three months ending June 30th 2018)
Headcount: c. 10,000
Key staff: Yves Guillemot (CEO)
Key games: Growtopia, Is it Love?, Knife Hit, Mr Gun, Hungry Shark World
Structure: EPA:UBI
M&A: Acquired Montpellier-based Is it Love? developer 1492 Studio

Previous years have seen Ubisoft bolster its mobile unit with acquisitions of Growtopia in 2017, Ketchapp in 2016 and Future Games of London before that.

The latter studio’s Hungry Shark series has racked up over 500m downloads. Ketchapp, meanwhile, is a leader in the hyper-casual space – a useful tool that the publisher can use to build a network of users for its portfolio.

This year Ubisoft added Is it Love? developer 1492 Studio, which could make it a player in the bustling narrative gaming arena.

Such astute acquisitions have seen its mobile revenues jump 66.2% for the year ending March 31st 2018.

#40: Ludia


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Ludia »

HQ: Montreal, Canada
Sales: Undisclosed
Headcount: c. 350
Key staff: Alex Thabet (CEO)
Key games: Jurassic World: Alive, Jurassic World: The Game
Structure: Private
M&A: Agreed to work on future titles with Disney Interactive

No stranger to licensing deals, Ludia’s latest partnership with Universal gave us location-based augmented reality game Jurassic World Alive earlier this year.

The Pokemon Go-inspired tie-in innovates on the genre – Niantic may well be taking notes – and opened strongly. It charted at fifth place in the App Store download rankings in its opening week. It’s since become a steady top 70 grossing game in the US. Ludia’s other 2015 builder game Jurassic World: The Game, meanwhile, is also a top 100 grosser.

The developer also nabbed a deal with Disney to work on new projects, all marking a successful present and bright future for the Canadian studio.

#39: Fingersoft


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Fingersoft »

HQ: Oulu, Finland
Sales: Unknown
Key staff: Teemu Närhi (CEO)
Key games: Hill Climb Racing 2, Hill Climb Racing, Hills of Steel
Structure: Independent
M&A: Formed Round Zero publishing label

Hailing from Finland, Fingersoft certainly boasts some noisy neighbours with the likes of Supercell and Rovio. However, the Oulu-based developer has been generating some buzz of its own.

The Hill Climb Racing franchise, which includes Hill Climb Racing, Hill Climb Racing 2, and a version released especially for China, rolled past one billion downloads in the past year.

Having opened a new office block, last year Fingersoft launched a data-driven publishing label called Round Zero.

Its title Hills of Steel (developed by Helsinki-based multiplayer game studio Superplus Games) passed the 10 million download mark earlier this year.

#38: Intermedia Labs

Intermedia Labs

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Intermedia Labs »

HQ: New York, USA
Sales: Undisclosed
Key staff: Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll (co-founders)
Key games: HQ Trvia, HQ Sports
Structure: Private
M&A: Raised $15m investment round

Mobile has always been a platform capable of offering something unique, experiences you just don’t get on console or PC. HQ Trivia from Intermedia Labs is one of those original ‘games’.

Developed by the creators of video app Vine, HQ Trivia acts as a quiz show with real-life presenters (they host twice a day during the week and once a day at weekends). Players have the chance to compete for real money.

Millions of players are tuning in each week, the prizes are getting larger, and increasingly bigger brands are signing up for marketing. HQ Trivia, now expanded with HQ Sports, is totally different to anything on the market.

#37: Outfit7


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Outfit7 »

HQ: London, UK
Sales: Undisclosed
Headcount: c. 250
Key staff: Xinyu Qian (CEO), Žiga Vavpotič (Board chairman)
Key games: Talking Tom, Talking Tom Jetski 2, Talking Tom Camp
Structure: Owned by Jinke Entertainment Culture
M&A: Acquired for $1 billion

Exceeding the actual population of the planet Earth, Outfit7 managed to pass eight billion downloads across its mobile portfolio by the start of this year.

The Talking Tom developer was hotly contested last year, getting snapped up by Chinese chemical firm Jinke for $1 billion.

Outfit7 has quickly built itself a respectable multimedia empire, so it’s no wonder investors are interested.

Its spun the Talking Tom franchise off into a wider variety of genres, from racers to runners to real-time strategy. And the cast of characters now has two web-based animated series, with over 23 billion views between them!

#36: Nexon


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Nexon »

HQ: Tokyo, Japan
Sales: $2.16bn (FY17)
Headcount: c. 5,000
Key staff: Owen Mahoney (President and CEO)
Key games: Choices, DomiNations, Heroes of Incredible Tales, AxE
Structure: TYO:3659
M&A: Acquired Choices developer Pixelberry

Nexon is no stranger to the Top 50 list. The last 12 months has been yet another successful year for the global publisher.

Mobile revenue grew 24% year-on-year in Q1 2018 to $130m (though that was slightly down quarter-on-quarter).

One of its titles, Big Huge Games’ DomiNations, has now grossed $150m. Meanwhile Nexon also now has Pixelberry Studios on its books, following an acquisition in late 2017. Its story-driven title Choices is a top grossing game in the US and many other territories.

Nexon also has titles such as Heroes of Incredible Tales and AxE bringing in the cash, while smash PC hit Dungeon Fighter is all set for a leap to mobile.

#35: ZeptoLab


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ZeptoLab »

HQ: Moscow, Russia
Sales: Undisclosed
Key staff: Misha Lyalin (CEO)
Key games: C.A.T.S.: Crash Arena Turbo Stars, King of Thieves, Cut The Rope: Magic
Structure: Private

ZeptoLab is one of the few studios in the mobile space that’s able to release hit after hit.

It’s already had success with the Cut The Rope series and King of Thieves, and the studio was at it again last year with the launch of C.A.T.S.: Crash Arena Turbo Stars. Keeping with the company’s quirky design style, C.A.T.S. packs user generated content, automated battles and multiplayer into one excellent package.

The title racked up more than 60 million downloads by August 2017. It won Google Play’s Best Game for 2017 award. And it’s turning a tidy profit! The studio is now branching out into publishing, helping other devs find a market.

#34: Konami


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Konami »

HQ: Tokyo, Japan
Sales: $ 2.19 billion (for the fiscal year ending March 31st 2018)
Headcount: 4,578 (consolidated)
Key staff: Takuya Kozuki (President)
Key games: Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links, Jikkyou Pawafuru Puroyakyu, Professional Baseball Spirits A
Structure: LON:KNM

Konami’s pivot to mobile games in 2015 has proven over time to be a smart move in revenue terms, with the publisher now making more than four times as much on mobile than it does on console.

This year, mobile and PC card game Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links surpassed 60 million downloads within its first year of global release.

The publisher notes that Jikkyou Pawafuru Puroyakyu and Professional Baseball Spirits A are also still doing the business in the Japanese domestic market.

Looking forward, Konami could be welcoming a new juggernaut to the roster because the latest instalment of its Castlevania franchise is on its way to mobile with Grimoire of Souls.

#33: Scopely


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Scopely »

HQ: Los Angeles, USA
Headcount: c.300
Key staff: Walter Driver (CEO)
Key games: The Walking Dead: Road to Survival, WWE Champions, New Yahtzee with Buddies
Structure: Private
M&A: $100m investment this year to further acquisitions and IP catalogue

Scopely has continued to bring in the big money with its many licensed products. The Walking Dead: Road to Survival, WWE Champions and New Yahtzee with Buddies continue to perform.

It’s cancelled soft launched titles, but that hasn’t concerned investors, who would perhaps describe Scopely as ‘astute’. The “next generation mobile entertainment network” raised $100m this year, and is valued at roughly $700m.

The studio plans to use the money in acquisitions and investments, as well as to expand its catalogue. A continued streak of good investments has given Scopely room to open a new studio in Barcelona.

#32: Rovio


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Rovio »

HQ: Espoo, Finland
Sales: $82 million (Q2 2018)
Key staff: Kati Levoranta (CEO)
Key games: Angry Birds 2, Battle Bay, Angry Birds Evolution
Structure: CPH: ROVIO
M&A: May be possible post-IPO but no news as of yet

Let’s set aside IPO troubles for a moment and remember that for the first three months of 2018 the Helsinki-based company reported record revenues for Angry Birds 2.

This is thanks to some smart live ops. It boosted the company’s profits 75% to $10.8m for the quarter. Battle Bay and Angry Birds: Evolution are yet to enter the upper echelons of the grossing charts so far, although Angry Birds Match is a consistent top 200 title.

For Rovio, however, it’s not just about the games themselves. There’s another film on the way, a long-form animated series, a new Angry Birds World amusement park in Qatar and numerous other licensing deals.

#31: DeNA Co.,Ltd.

DeNA Co.,Ltd.

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DeNA Co.,Ltd. »

HQ: Tokyo, Japan
Sales: $896 million (Games segment for the fiscal year ending March 31st 2018)
Headcount: c. 2,000
Key staff: Tomoko Namba (Chairman), Isao Moriyasu (CEO),
Key games: Fire Emblem Heroes, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Super Mario Run
Structure: TYO:2432
M&A: Will Nintendo try to acquire its mobile partner?

DeNA’s partnership with Nintendo has been a source of positive chatter thanks to the releases of Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

Fire Emblem Heroes has proven the pick of the bunch as a real money-spinner for DeNA and Nintendo.

Super Mario Run less so, but Sensor Tower reports it made $60m – still not to be sniffed at. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp was an excellent game that somehow hasn’t taken off.

Eyes are now on the future. DeNA’s partnership with Platinum to publish World of Demons has created a lot of buzz, while the upcoming Mario Kart title for mobile is eagerly awaited by fans of the franchise.

#30: FoxNext


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FoxNext »

Sales: Undisclosed
Key staff: Salil Mehta (President), Rick Phillips (President, FoxNext Games), Aaron Loeb (President, Studios)
Key games: Marvel Strike Force
Structure: Games division of Twentieth Century Fox
M&A: Acquired Aftershock; Opened Fogbank dev studio; Acquired Cold Iron, Signed numerous licensing deals with developers

FoxNext’s all-star team includes former Kabam execs and devs, brought in following the acquisition of Aftershock (after the majority of Kabam’s assets were sold to Netmarble).

It’s signed numerous big IP deals with external devs, set up its own new narrative-focused studio Fogbank and acquired Cold Iron Studios from Perfect World for an Alien shooter.

Its biggest release has been Marvel Strike Force, reportedly generating over $50m from 15m installs, four months after launching in March.

With an Avatar mobile game coming and other deals surely in the pipeline, FoxNext is looking to become a major industry player.

#29: CyberAgent


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CyberAgent »

HQ: Tokyo, Japan
Sales: $368 million (Games business, Q2 2018)
Headcount: est. 1,500
Key staff: Yusuke Hidaka (Executive Manager, Games)
Key games: Shadowverse, The Idolmaster: Cinderella Girls Starlight Stage, BanG Dream! Girls Band Party, Prince Connect! Re: Dive
Structure: TYO:4751
M&A: Nintendo acquired 5% stake in subsidiary Cygames

Little-known to many outside of its native Japan, CyberAgent is a giant in its homeland. It owns studios such as Cygames, Sumzap, GCREST and Applibot and makes over $1bn annually.

Though its games revenue had remained flat for a while, for the three months ending March 31st 2018 the company’s revenues jumped 12.8% to $368 million.

Titles such as Shadowverse, The Idolmaster: Cinderella Girls Starlight Stage and BanG Dream! Girls Band Party had been top performers previously. Now it’s added to its successful portfolio with new IP, anime-RPG Prince Connect! Re: Dive, demonstrating abilities as a consistent hit maker.

#28: Square Enix

Square Enix

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Square Enix »

HQ: Tokyo, Japan
Sales: $2 billion (for the Fiscal Year Ended March 31st 2018)
Headcount: c. 3500
Key staff: Yosuke Matsuda (CEO)
Key games: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, Mobius Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire
Structure: TYO:9684
M&A: Partnering with MZ on Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire; Opened a Nintendo Switch division

Square Enix’s revenues dipped to a mere $2bn for the year ending March 31st 2018, but mobile still helped bump profits 22% to $348m.

Final Fantasy Brave Exvius recently passed 30m downloads, and the game continues to be a top grosser in Japan. Premium title Hitman Sniper, meanwhile, struck 10 million downloads.

The sad news that Square Enix Montreal will no longer develop premium Go titles was met with surprise in the industry because they're of such good quality.

Other revenue generators Hoshi no Dragon Quest, Dragon Quest Monsters Super Light and Kingdom Hearts Union X signify a wide and successful portfolio.

#27: Miniclip


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Miniclip »

HQ: Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Sales: Undisclosed
Key staff: Robert Small (CEO)
Key games: 8 Ball Pool, Football Strike,, Flip Master
Structure: Majority-owned by Tencent

Miniclip has an extensive portfolio of casual titles, though its top grossing performer is still the classic 8 Ball Pool, which maintains a healthy top 25 spot in the UK and top 70 in the US.

Last year’s superb Football Strike has also found an engaged audience in Europe, landing well inside the top 100 grossing charts in numerous countries. It’s not doing bad in the US either, flying up the rankings in the last three months.

The Switzerland-headquartered company earns its place in this list with viral hits like and Flip Master in its portfolio. Other titles such as War Wings and Archery King continue to power Miniclip’s one billion-plus downloads.

#26: Bandai Namco

Bandai Namco

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Bandai Namco »

HQ: Tokyo, Japan
Sales: $3.15 billion (Network Entertainment segment, which includes mobile, for the fiscal year ending March 31st 2018)
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, Dragon Ball Z: Legends
Structure: TYO:7832
M&A: Actively looking for M&As

It’s been a good 2018 for Bandai Namco, with sales jumping up 25.9% year-on-year to $3.15 billion.

It’s been a mix of old and new games performing well, with the Dragon Ball IP at the heart of both.

A title that demonstrates the value of good live ops, Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle has hit the $1 billion milestone since launching back in 2015.

New release Dragon Ball Legends meanwhile, made $40 million in revenues in just over a month, according to Sensor Tower.

Given Bandai Namco’s strong track-record with live ops and events, Dragon Ball Legends has every chance to match its predecessor’s success over the long-term.

#25: Glu Mobile

Glu Mobile

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Glu Mobile »

HQ: San Francisco, USA
Sales: $90.2m (Q2 2018)
Headcount: c. 700
Key staff: Nick Earl (CEO), Niccolo de Masi (Executive Chairman)
Key games: Design Home, Covet: Fashion, MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2018, Titan World
Structure: NYSE:GLUU
M&A: Acquired Crowdstar ($45 million) and Plain Vanilla ($8.7 million); Sold Moscow studio to Saber Interactive for $2.8 million

Glu continues to go from strength to strength. Its bookings grew 25.1% year-on-year to a record $86.3 million for the three months ending March 31st 2018.

Thanks to its acquisition of Crowdstar back in late 2016, Design Home has become a star game in Glu’s portfolio.

The MLB Tap Sports Baseball franchise has also proven reliable, the latest 2017 release generating $49.7 million.

Looking forward, Glu has a new original IP in soft-launch called Titan World.

At this point, it seems a turnaround to profitability is inevitable, in a future where those old expensive celebrity deals (2015’s Katy Perry Pop for instance) are largely left behind.

#24: Pocket Gems

Pocket Gems

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Pocket Gems »

HQ: San Francisco
Sales: Undisclosed
Headcount: c.250
Key staff: Ben Liu (CEO)
Key games: Episode, War Dragons
Structure: Private

Once again in our Top 50, Pocket Gems is still seeing success from flagship title Episode, with the choose-your-own-story reaching over 150m downloads and rising to a top 20 grossing game in the US.

The studio finds itself at the head of a burgeoning new genre in the narrative-driven games space, akin to Fornite or PUBG’s position in the battle royale arena.

It’s not the only title in Pocket Gems’ catalogue, however. 3D strategy game War Dragons continues to perform steadily as a top 100 grossing US game.

Finding success in two wildly disparate experiences, Pocket Gems is proving that it can take on any genre it wants.

#23: IGG


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HQ: Singapore
Sales: $603m (FY17)
Headcount: 800
Key staff: Kevin Xu (COO)
Key games: Lords Mobile, Castle Clash
Structure: HKG:0799

Singapore-based IGG had a stellar 2017, raking in $603 million for the year and $154m in net profit – jumps of 89% and 117% respectively.

Its former flagship title Castle Clash, released nearly five years ago, maintains a monthly active user base of eight million-plus and brings in on average $12.7 million each month.

But it’s free-to-play MMO Lords Mobile that’s bringing in the most serious cash – up to $51 million a month alone from 10 million-plus monthly active users.

Lords Mobile has been a major success globally too. It sees 49% of its revenue come from Asia, while North America takes 26% and Europe 21%.

#22: Jam City

Jam City

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Jam City »

HQ: Los Angeles, USA
Sales: Undisclosed
Headcount: c. 500
Key staff: Chris DeWolfe (CEO)
Key games: Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery, Family Guy Another Freakin’ Mobile Game, Cookie Jam, Panda Pop
Structure: Private
M&A: Acquired Brainz in March; IPO reported to be this year

The last year has been a transformational one for Jam City. The Californian publisher cast a spell on fans with Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, based on Rowling’s wizarding franchise.

The licensed RPG quickly became a top grosser for the studio in key markets like the US.

It’s a sign of the studio breaking out from its casual roots, where it’s had planet-wide success with titles like its own Cookie Jam and Panda Pop IPs, and varying results with licenses like Family Guy.

In March the publisher expanded into real-time strategy games by acquiring Columbian developer Brainz. Jam City is now reportedly eyeing an IPO as early as autumn that could value it at $1bn.

#21: Nintendo


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Nintendo »

HQ: Kyoto, Japan
Sales: $1.5 billion (Three months ending June 2018)
Headcount: c. 5,000
Key staff: Shuntaro Furukawa (President), Shigeru Miyamoto
Key games: Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Fire Emblem Heroes, Pokemon Quest, Super Mario Odyssey, Super Mario Run
Structure: TYO: 7974
M&A: Acquired a minority stake in Cygames

Nintendo’s 2015 pivot to mobile is proving incredibly effective.

Mobile games brought in $359.5m in combined sales during the year ending March 31st 2018, a 62% year-on-year increase. Despite falling shares, the Nintendo Switch also remains a hot seller.

Recently Nintendo enjoyed some success with Pokemon Quest, which racked up $3m in revenues during its first week on mobile. And as part of its existing partnership with DeNA, it’s set to launch Mario Kart Tour later this year.

Following a 5% acquisition in Cygames, it’s also set to launch a brand new mobile IP in the shape of Dragalia Lost.

#20: Voodoo


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Voodoo »

HQ: Paris, France
Sales: Undisclosed
Key staff: Alexandre Yazdi (CEO)
Key games: Snake Vs Block,,, Helix Jump, Dune!
Structure: Private
M&A: Received $200m investment from Goldman Sachs

Hyper-casual is one of the hottest trends in mobile gaming right now, and there are a few heavyweights battling it out for dominance in the ring.

But by far the current champion is French developer and publisher Voodoo. It regularly dominates mobile’s download charts across an ever-growing portfolio that stars,, Helix Jump, Dune!, Snake Vs Block and many more.

Generating money mostly from advertising, Voodoo’s success and further potential was highlighted by a $200m investment from Goldman Sachs. Its future is set to be in “new social and media apps, and Reuters reported in May that Voodoo plans to double its staff this year.



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HQ: Seongnam, South Korea
Sales: $441m (Q1 2018)
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

It wasn’t so long ago that the industry was stunned by the enormous revenues earned by Netmarble’s Lineage 2: Revolution.

But then in 2017 Lineage IP owner NCSoft stepped in to bring the original PC MMO to mobile with Lineage M... making $233m in its first month alone.

It’s since gone on to reel in $1.2 billion a year since release. It’s one of a number of titles in recent times that’s thrown out the classic mobile design rulebook.

The result? NCSoft profits were up 570% year-on-year. And Lineage 2 royalties continue to bring in the bucks too.

Classically known as a PC publisher, mobile now represents more than half of the South Korean company’s sales.

#18: Machine Zone

Machine Zone

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Machine Zone »

HQ: Palo Alto, USA
Sales: Undisclosed
Headcount: c. 400 (estimated)
Key staff: Kristen Dumont (CEO)
Key games: Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire, Game of War, Mobile Strike
Structure: Private
M&A: Satori set up as a standalone business

Times they are a-changin' for US developer MZ. After pulling much of its UA support for Mobile Strike and Game of War, those one-time powerhouses have fallen away.

But MZ is no fool: in their place is Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire, a US top 20 grossing performer with more than 20 million downloads.

The studio is moving forward under a new CEO, Kristen Dumont (previously COO), after company founder Gabe Leydon left to pursue the blockchain, and took MZ’s tech platform Satori with him.

And after MZ shut down its ad-tech platform Cognant this year (with the loss of 125 employees) it looks as though there’s a renewed focus on just mobile game development.

#17: Zynga


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Zynga »

HQ: San Francisco, USA
Sales: $217m (Q2 2018)
Headcount: c1.500
Key staff: Frank Gibeau (CEO)
Key games: CSR Racing 2, Merge Dragons!, Words With Friends 2, Zynga Poker
Structure: NASDAQ: ZYGA
M&A: Acquired Gram Games for $250m and Peak Games’ casual card game portfolio for $100m

After years of losses, the question of profitability is no longer one hanging over Zynga. In Q1 FY18 it was profitable for the fourth consecutive quarter with a net income of $5.6 million.

The stars in its portfolio are well-known names: CSR Racing 2, Words With Friends and its new sequel, and Zynga Poker. These 'forever franchises' continue to perform better and better.

Zynga’s renewed confidence has seen it on the acquisition trail, snapping up Harpan Solitaire for $42.5m, Peak Games’ casual card game portfolio for $100m, and, most notable of all, Merge Dragons developer Gram Games for $250m.

#16: Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

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Warner Bros. »

HQ: Burbank, USA
Key staff: David Haddad (President), Paul Gouge (Playdemic CEO)
Key games: Game of Thrones Conquest, Golf Clash
Structure: Game production arm of Warner Bros.
M&A: Acquired mobile games communication platform Plexchat; Opened new Brighton mobile studio

Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment’s mobile endeavours are continually expanding. Its key acquisition was last year’s purchase of UK studio Playdemic.

The developer released the Mobile Games Awards-winning Golf Clash, smashing expectations (and reportedly at one point earning $1m a day).

It currently floats between the top 50 and top 10 in the US top grossing game charts.

Last year it launched Game of Thrones: Conquest, a consistent top 40 grossing game, peaking in the top 10. In July Warner Bros acquired communication platform Plexchat, and set up TT Games Brighton. That’s headed up Boss Alien’s former MD, and is focussed on new LEGO mobile games.

#15: GungHo Online Entertainment

GungHo Online Entertainment

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GungHo Online Entertainment »

HQ: Tokyo, Japan
Sales: $187m (Three months ending June 30th 2018)
Headcount: c. 1,000
Key staff: Kazuki Morishita (President and CEO)
Key games: Puzzle & Dragons, Yo-Kai Watch World, Super Senso
Structure: TYO:3765

Puzzle & Dragons has been on a natural decline for a long time now, but over six years since launch it’s still a major revenue generator, chart topper and massive entertainment IP.

Lifetime revenues have passed roughly $6 billion, and thanks to regular in-game events it continues to pull in engaged players. In 2017 it managed to rake in around $600m. GungHo has extended the IP out of gaming and launched a new cartoon earlier this year.

Looking to break out of the P&D bubble, Gungho recently launched location-based AR title Yo-Kai Watch World in Japan, while also eyeing up Nintendo Switch with multiplayer fighting game Ninjala.

#14: Mixi


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Mixi »

HQ: Tokyo, Japan
Sales: $1.7 billion (FY2018)
Headcount: c. 1,000
Key staff: Koki Kimura (President)
Key games: Monster Strike
Structure: TYO:2121
M&A: $900m to invest ($100m going to digital entertainment).

By now considered the old guard of the Japanese mobile games industry, Mixi’s Monster Strike remains one of the world’s top grossing mobile titles.

It’s impressive for a title launched in 2013. Once again – something of a theme in this list – smart live operations and live events are keeping players engaged and halting what could be a hastier decline.

And that work is generating game revenue of around $1.3 billion, according to Superdata.

Mixi has already expanded the Monster Strike IP to other media with an anime movie and short films, and has set aside $900m to invest in business development, mergers and acquisitions ($100m going to digital entertainment).

#13: Sony


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Sony »

HQ: Tokyo, Japan
Sales: $1.9 billion (H1 2018, Sony Music)
Headcount: c. 125,000
Key staff: Kenichiro Yoshida (CEO)
Key games: Fate/Grand Order, Mingol, No Heroes Allowed! DASH!
Structure: TYO: 6758

Delightworks’ hit RPG Fate/Grand Order holds an odd distinction within Sony’s ranks. It’s grouped in the Music segment.

Nevertheless, it’s still been rocking the games charts and helped propel the division to $7bn for the fiscal year ending March 31st 2018, which represents a 24% ($1.3bn) year-on-year increase.

There are no signs of it slowing down either. It recently passed $2bn in revenue worldwide, having launched in August 2015.

Sony has tried expanding its mobile operations with ForwardWorks, which launched No Heroes Allowed! DASH! and surpassed 500,000 downloads after three days in Japan.

#12: EA Mobile

EA Mobile

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EA Mobile »

HQ: Redwood Shores, USA
Sales: $659 million (Mobile revenues for trailing year June ending March 31st 2018)
Headcount: c. 800
Key staff: Andrew Wilson (CEO), Samantha Ryan (SVP, EA Mobile)
Key games: Sims Mobile, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, Madden NFL Mobile, FIFA Mobile
Structure: Floated on NASDAQ (NASDAQ:EA)
M&A: Hasn't been active since expensive PopCap deal in 2011

Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes may be a stalwart for EA Mobile but there’s a new kid on the block with The Sims: Mobile.

That life simulation game managed to grab $15m in revenues, four months after launch. And the 2015 Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes collectible RPG is still performing solidly, helping EA Mobile’s net bookings grow 5% year-on-year to $659m for the period ending March 31st 2018.

If EA sticks with The Sims Mobile for the long-term, the power of the IP gives it a chance to be a top performer.

And this is EA we’re talking about: the Californian giant also has the likes of Madden, FIFA and NBA Live to help keep revenues steady.

#11: Niantic


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Niantic »

HQ: San Francisco, USA
Sales: $1 billion+ (Est.)
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: Raised $200m; Acquired Seismic Games (Marvel Strike Force) and Matrix Mill

While Pokemon Go never really went away after its early heady heights, the title is enjoying a major resurgence.

It’s all thanks to Niantic’s excellent live operations – churning out new Pokemon to catch, pulling fans back with great new features like trading, and establishing real-world live events. It’s helped it make a reported $1.8 billion-plus in two years.

Now, after raising $200m, it’s been on an acquisition spree (including buying Marvel Strike Force dev Seismic Games) and is set to take its AR tech to other studios.

Oh, and it’s getting ready to launch Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, which has the potential to be even bigger than Pokemon Go, given the size of the J. K. Rowling fanbase..

#10: Peak Games

Peak Games

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Peak Games »

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; Sold card and board games to Zynga for $100 million

Turkish developer Peak Games has, as is often the case with mobile companies, quietly built up what is now one of the most successful games firms in the world.

Its longstanding casual title Toy Blast remains a top 10 grossing game in the US and around the world. The devilishly addictive game has spawned numerous imitators, but none have quite been able to match its performance.

Peak Games extended the Blast series into a franchise last year and has quickly found a matching hit in Toon Blast.

Yet another regular top 10 in the US, Toon Blast doesn’t revolutionise the formula, but by integrating a team feature adds a new social element. And it completely ditched the genre’s familiar saga map, a move other developers were quick to follow.

Peak Games refocused its operations last year when it sold its portfolio of card and board games to Zynga for $100 million.

At the time Peak said it expected to double its audience over the following 12 months (it has launched a performance marketing campaign with Ryan Reynolds to this end), and in doing so has solidified itself as one of the top casual-focused mobile games developers around, able to create multiple hits that don’t (as yet) cannibalise each other’s audience.

#9: Com2uS


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Com2uS »

HQ: Seoul, South Korea
Sales: $111m (Q2 2018)
Headcount: c. 800
Key staff: Casey Lee (CEO, Com2uS USA)
Key games: Summoners War, MLB 9 Innings, Skylanders Ring of Heroes
Structure: KOSDAQ:078340
M&A: Majority stake owned by Gamevil as of October 2013.

South Korean developer Com2uS continues to excel in large thanks to its $1 billion-plus flagship title, MMORPG Summoners War.

The game has now passed 90 million downloads and shows no sign of slowing down. Instead, Com2uS is doubling down on the title with esports and brand extensions, from a series of comics and animations to a new line of Funko merchandise.

Unusual for a South Korean company, the majority of its revenues come from the overseas market, making it one of the few regional developers to truly break out internationally with a homegrown IP.

In 2017 it posted revenues of $469m, the second consecutive year it has posted sales over $450m. Operating profits meanwhile were at a record $180.9m.

2018 is continuing much in a similar fashion, bringing in $100m in Q1, with another title MLB 9 Innings also singled out for stellar earnings and giving the quarter a significant sales boost.

Com2uS has plans to broaden its portfolio, going beyond Summoners War with the imminent launch (at the time of writing) of a new Skylanders mobile game. The toys-to-life franchise is a $1bn property, so if Com2uS gets things right it could have another major earner on its hands.

#8: Playrix


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Playrix »

HQ: Vologda, Russia
Sales: Undisclosed
Headcount: 1,000
Key staff: Dmitri Bukhman (Co-founder), Igor Bukhman (Co-founder)
Key games: Homescapes, Gardenscapes, Fishdom, Township
Structure: Privately owned
M&A: Could become an acquisition target

Russian developer Playrix is, simply put, one of the smartest and innovative mobile games companies in the world at the moment.

Its roots in PC, flagship title Gardenscapes actually started out as a hidden object game. But when bringing it to mobile, the team decided to turn it into a story-driven match-three title.

Breaking into such a crowded space dominated by King and others was no easy task. But by ditching the saga map and heavily integrating a charming storyline, Playrix carved out its corner... and steadily took over the market, turning into a top 10/top 20 grosser.

Lightning has struck twice with follow-up Homescapes, similarly a top 10/top 20 grosser. In November 2017 we were informed that game had surpassed 35m downloads in less than two months and secured nine million DAUs.

And don’t forget Playrix’s other mobile games: Fishdom and Township. The former maintains a top 60 grossing position while the latter also hangs around the top 100.

There aren’t many companies that are so consistently successful in the mobile games market. But Playrix, with a small portfolio of hits, is one of the best.

#7: Supercell


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Supercell »

HQ: Helsinki, Finland
Sales: $2.3 billion (2016)
Headcount: c. 240 (estimated)
Key staff: Ilkka Paananen (CEO)
Key games: Clash Royale, Brawl Stars, Clash of Clans, HayDay, Boom Beach
Structure: Majority owned by Tencent
M&A: Tencent acquired 84% stake for $8.6 billion; Supercell has stakes and investments in Frogmind, Space Ape Games, Shipyard Games, Trailmix and Redemption Games

In our last Top 50 Developer list we put Supercell in the number one spot. It deserved it, of course, and remains in the top 10 courtesy of continued strong performances across its portfolio.

According to Superdata, both Clash of Clans and Clash Royale made around $1.2 billion in 2017. Sensor Tower meanwhile recently labelled Supercell the first mobile games company to develop two multi-billion dollar games.

To this day Clash of Clans remains a top 10 grossing game around the world. Clash Royale has been less consistent of late, however, falling out of the top 20 grossing game spots on the US App store at times, though occasionally returning to the top 10.

It’s unclear, meanwhile, whether the soft-launched Brawl Stars – which, like Clash Royale, has an obvious esports tilt, where Supercell increasingly excels – will get a full global release.

But then that’s Supercell’s ethos: maximising the value of its team by biding its time before the next billion dollar hit.

The Finnish company is also increasingly spreading its bets with key investments and acquisitions, including UK studios Space Ape and Trailmix, AR developer Shipyard Games, Badland developer Frogmind and, more recently, Redemption Games, which was founded by the creatives who worked on Cookie Jam.

#6: Roblox


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Roblox »

HQ: San Mateo, USA
Sales: Unknown (Creator community on track to earn over $70m this year)
Key staff: David Baszucki (CEO)
Key games: Roblox
Structure: Private
M&A: Reportedly set to raise $150m

Roblox has snuck up on the gaming world to become one of the most popular titles around the world right now, particularly among younger players.

The sandbox MMO is full to the brim with user-generated content, where the creators themselves can make money from their creations – some to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. There are now four million active creators in the game, with Roblox Corporation expecting the developer community to rake in $70 million in 2018.

These creators have a large audience to cater for: more than 60 million monthly active users in fact across platforms such as PC, Xbox One, virtual reality and mobile.

The company is currently combating misuse of the platform and safety for children following recent reports of bad actors in the game, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped its rocket-powered growth.

Having raised $92 million in funding last year, the company is reportedly now seeking $150 million as it looks to expand.

Roblox already looks like it’s ‘the next Minecraft’. You can expect it to stick around a lot longer as more users join the game and as the development team steps up its global expansion.

#5: Netmarble


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Netmarble »

HQ: Seoul, South Korea
Sales: $444m (Q2 2018)
Headcount: 3,000
Key staff: Park Sean (CEO), Seungwon Lee (Chief Global Officer), 
Key games: Lineage 2: Revolution, Marvel Contest of Champions, Marvel Future Fight
Structure: KRX: 251270
M&A: $47m investment in Kakao Games

It’s been a remarkable couple of years for South Korea’s biggest mobile games publisher Netmarble.

In late 2016 it acquired the Kabam publishing label, the Vancouver outfit responsible for hit mobile game Marvel Contest of Champions.

Then there was the launch of Lineage 2: Revolution, which generated $176m in its first month. It has propelled the company to new heights. After 11 months that title surpassed $924 million in revenue.

Buoyed by that game’s success, Netmarble floated on the Korea Exchange with a valuation of over $12bn. It said it aims to go on a $4.4bn acquisition spree following that deal.

Netmarble has an extensive portfolio of titles, including Tera M, Marvel Future Fight (now at 70m downloads), Everybody’s Marble and Seven Knights.

It also has a stake in Jam City following a $130m investment in 2015. With that company – the brains behind Cookie Jam, Panda Pop and Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery – on the trail of a reported $1bn IPO, the South Korean publisher could be set to make a substantial return on that investment.

More recently, Netmarble invested around $47m in Kakao Games and will likely continue to conduct serious M&A activity in the year ahead as it balloons into a gaming giant.

#4: King


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King »

HQ: London, UK
Sales: $1 billion (H1 2018)
Headcount: c. 1,400
Key staff: Riccardo Zacconi (CEO, King)
Key games: Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga, Bubble Witch 3 Saga, Royal Charm Slots, Legend of Solgard
Structure: Floated on the NASDAQ (NASDAQ: ATVI)
M&A: Publishing partnership with Snowprint Studios

There are few companies with the staying power of King. The Candy Crush franchise has overtime made its way into the mainstream. Released on mobile in 2012, six years later the original Candy Crush Saga remains King’s top grossing game.

Thanks to doubling down on live operations and events, King has ensured the game is generating as much revenue as it ever has. It remains a top five grossing title in countries such as the US and UK, a remarkable feat.

According to Sensor Tower, it was the highest grossing Western-developed mobile game in Q2 2018, making around $213m from the App Store and Google Play – that’s an increase of 18% year-on-year.

Then you have regular top 10/top 20 grosser Candy Crush Soda Saga, and top 80 grosser Candy Crush Jelly Saga, demonstrating just how powerful a franchise it has become. King also has other popular titles in its portfolio, from Farm Heroes Saga to Pet Rescue Saga and of course Bubble Witch 3 Saga.

King now has its eyes set on breaking out of the casual genre, with a Call of Duty mobile title in the works and the recent release of casino game Royal Charm Slots.

#3: NetEase


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NetEase »

HQ: Beijing, China
Sales: $2.5 billion (Q2 2018)
Headcount: 13,000
Key staff: William Ding (CEO)
Key games: Knives Out, Identity V, Onmyoji, Rules of Survival, Fantasy Westward Journey
Structure: NASDAQ:NTES
M&A: Investments in Bungie and Improbable; Partnership with CCP

You can debate the similarities to a certain Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, but you can’t deny NetEase’s ability to quickly jump in and dominate the early days of mobile battle royale.

The Chinese publisher was the first to bring the popular PC genre to our smart devices with games such as Rules of Survival, Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Knives Out, and it paid dividends.

One the top grossing game in China, Knives Out remains in the top 50 in the country. But the real success story comes from Japan, where it’s competing with heavy hitters like Puzzle & Dragons, Monster Strike and Fate/Grand Order as a top five/top 10 grossing title.

Sensor Tower meanwhile claims it pulled in more than 50m MAUs in January.

NetEase has also been busy outside of battle royale. It already has hits like Onmyoji, Fantasy Westward Journey and New Ghost.

New multiplayer horror game Identity V has become a hot performer, claiming 100 million downloads and 10m daily active users before its global release.

Recently NetEase invested $100m in Destiny developer Bungie, while it’s also teamed up with CCP for a new EVE Online mobile game. The future certainly looks busy for this prolific Chinese publisher.

#2: Tencent


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Tencent »

HQ: Beijing, China
Sales: $2.54 billion (Smartphone division Q2 2018)
Headcount: c. 30,000 (entire company)
Key staff: Ma Huateng (CEO)
Key games: Arena of Valor, QQ Speed Mobile, Clash Royale
Structure: HKG:0700
M&A: Has a holding in several other Western companies, including Epic Games, Supercell, Paradox Interactive, Glu Mobile, Pocket Gems and Miniclip

It’s the biggest company in the games industry. One of the biggest firms in the world, in fact. It owns stakes in major mobile companies including Clash of Clans developer Supercell ($8.6bn), Pocket Gems, Miniclip and Epic Games ($330m). All of which are in this very list.

But while those relationships in particular have proven hugely successful (Tencent has a very hands-off approach and lets teams do what they do best), it’s actually one of its own studios that has made its biggest game.

Arena of Valor (Honor of Kings) has made billions of dollars. According to SuperData, it made $1.9 billion in 2017 alone. It’s a success story that keeps on growing.

Tencent is pushing Arena of Valor as a huge mobile esport too. In July there was the Arena of Valor World Cup with a prize pool of $500,000, making the publisher a serious player in competitive gaming space.

Another of its titles meanwhile, the Mario Kart-like QQ Speed Mobile, has also been tearing up the Chinese mobile charts of late, giving Tencent another hit.

With key stakes in the biggest developers across platforms, including our top developer Epic Games, Tencent’s influence can be felt far and wide.

#1: Epic Games

Epic Games

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Epic Games »

HQ: Cary, North Carolina
Sales: Fortnite $1bn-plus
Headcount: 700
Key staff: Tim Sweeney (CEO), Mark Rein (VP)
Structure: Privately held
M&A: Tencent acquired a 40% stake in 2012

It’s been five years since Epic Games was named in our Top 50 list. But this year everything has changed for the company thanks to one game: Fortnite.

After a relatively quiet launch for what was originally a PvE experience, the addition of a battle royale mode has seen Fortnite become a cultural phenomenon.

Footballers are adopting its dances in celebrations, rapper Drake is joining game streams with Ninja, and the mainstream media can’t get enough of it.

Where Epic has really earned its place on the summit of the list, however, is the game’s mobile port. Powered by its Unreal Engine, Epic’s brought the full triple-A PC and console experience to smartphones.

In its first 90 days on the App Store, its been claimed Fortnite made $100 million. Across all platforms it’s reportedly made over $1 billion.

The success on mobile is revolutionary. It’s shattered beliefs about what makes a good or bad mobile game. The creation of the wildly successful Battle Pass – already being copied by other developers – and focus on selling purely cosmetic items is also a far cry away from how mobile’s other money-spinners monetise.

In just the space of a few months Epic has changed the mobile industry forever.