A Look Into the Billion Dollar Game Industry

A Look Into the Billion Dollar Game Industry

Video games have been around for over half a century. They hit a major stride in the early 80s and have yet to fall out of style. It’s safe to say they won’t be any time soon either. If you’ve been a fan of video games—whether casual or avid—long enough you’ve probably noticed how much pricier technology has gotten every new console or graphics card iteration. Virtual reality, augmented reality, and extended reality games and hardware have become more prominent in the gaming world. Even without economic factors like inflation, prices have risen thanks to the sheer amount of work put into improving the video game world.

And the game industry has never been as fruitful as it is now.

Games In Recent Years

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, released for the Wii U and then-new Nintendo Switch in 2017, has sold close to 28 million copies to date. In its first week, the stunning adventure game sold 230,000 units in Japan alone. In the United States, the title had around one million purchases the same week—quadruple the sales figure in Japan. Before factoring in production costs, dividends, etc, this means a gross total of at least $13.79 million for U.S. Sales. Sales for the highly-anticipated sequel will likely result in far higher numbers.

Cyberpunk 2077 had a rough start with its innumerable issues on the PlayStation 4 version. But CD Projekt Red, the company behind the futuristic, dystopian game featuring Keanu Reeves, still managed to sell over 13 million units at launch. While the game being pulled by PlayStation Network and others halted sales for a significant amount of time, a second wind has come and gone, selling nearly 7 million more copies of the game.

Eldin Ring, made by From Software, the studio behind the infamously challenging Dark Souls series and the brilliant yet gore-filled Bloodborne, also sold over 13 million copies in the early days of its release. Just a few months later the open world game had sold over 16 million copies. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that this game sold so well; it won the award for the most anticipated game of the year in both 2020 and 2021. Before accounting sales of Eldin Ring this year, Kadokawa Corporation, which owns 69% of From Software, is worth $1.4 million (over ¥209 million).

GameFreak, the primary game developer for Pokémon games, released a unique spin-off early this year. Pokémon Legends: Arceus, a more exploration-heavy game inspired by the events of Pokémon: Diamond/Pokemon: Pearl. 6.5 million copies of the game were sold in the first week. The current total of sales is double that of release week. That forms a gross total of $74.38 million in its first year, under the assumption that all sales prices across the globe are equivalent to the U.S. $59.99 price point.

Resident Evil: Village, released in May 2021 by Capcom, sold 6.4 million copies by June of this year. The direct sequel to Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was listed as the eighth best selling game last year. Capcom itself has a net worth of $5.4 billion.

Cuphead, the shoot ’em up, indie sensation from 2017, has accumulated over 6 million sales. This may seem low compared to other examples, but this game is from a small studio. Yet the developer, Studio MDHR, was able to reach a lower tier of sales for a triple A studio with a high quality game made in Unity.

Hardware For Gaming

Sony’s previous gen console, the PlayStation 4, has had a lifetime sale quantity of around 117 million units. The PlayStation 5, still in early years of sales, has a total of 22 million units sold, with an impressive release day sale of 3 million units. To date the PS2 is still the most purchased Sony console, selling an astounding 159 million units in its lifetime. It’s plausible more PS5 consoles would have been sold by now if it weren’t for the poor ratio of supply and demand. For its first two years in stores, the console was hard for many consumers to obtain; they were far too limited, leaving many desperately considering scalper prices or waiting unknown lengths of time for stores to restock. Sony will likely see frequent sales as the PS5 enters its third year, since people are still looking to buy it.

But Sony’s consoles aren’t the only hardware bringing in money. The PSVR, Sony’s answer to the virtual reality market, sold over 5 million headsets in its lifetime. Its successor, the PSVR2, has yet to be released. It’s said Sony has invested a heavy amount of money into this VR set, so we can only hope it gives consumers a far more immersive experience at launch.

Long time rival to Sony, Microsoft, has sold over 10 million units for Xbox Series X and its “lite edition,” Xbox Series S. Microsoft is known for far more than its consoles though. The company has invested great amounts in computers, computer accessories, and even AI learning machines. It is currently valued at slightly below $1825 billion.

Microsoft has plenty of additional goodies on the Xbox market too. The company is now selling a handheld gaming system that uses Xbox Cloud Gaming. This means players can play their games on the go and at home on the main console. This is similar to the Nintendo Switch in scenario, but different in method. This cloud gaming system, called the Logitech G CLOUD, is set to release later this month.

With the success of Nintendo Switch titles, it’s fair to assume the Switch itself has sold well. It did, in fact, sell so well that it is the fifth best selling console of all time (so far) selling 111 million units. This wildly dominates their previous portable system, the Nintendo 3DS, which sold almost 76 million units in its lifetime. Additionally, Nintendo released the Switch Lite, which has sold over 18 million units. It’s not hard to see why Nintendo is worth tens of billions of dollars.

With more expectations of games come more expectations of hardware that processes the games. Nvidia, well known for their graphic cards, will soon be launching their latest edition: the GeForce RTX 4090. Nvidia is currently valued at just over $302 billion. Likewise AMD has launched its latest graphics hardware, the Radeon RX 6950. AMD is currently worth $102 billion.

Remember Why Consumers Want These Products

With an emerging market for virtual reality, priced at $21.8 billion dollars, and multiple billion-dollar game companies and gaming hardware companies, video games will continue to be a hot market. With these chances for companies to profit so highly comes the chances for you to land a job in this industry. 

The demand for unique games is as strong as franchise games. Open source software, such as Unity, has made a grand impression on the game market; there is often a strong, knowledgeable community associated with these products that keep lower-tier development studios flourishing. Online education and training programs (like GameDevHQ) enhance the power creative individuals have to contribute to the game market.

Most of the value in everything listed above would be lost without game developers giving these things a reason to be purchased. Companies are looking for people who know how to contribute to a great game—people just like you, so the market continues to thrive.

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