The online gaming industry exploded in 2021 as people stayed indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Global revenues for the industry are estimated to be as high as $200 billion in 2021 alone, and as more regions of the world develop high speed internet access, this figure will only continue to grow. Online gaming has reached the mainstream across all different platforms: console, PC, and of course, mobile. The online gaming industry has provided additional revenue making segments as well including professional leagues, competitive tournaments, and in-app purchases. These events bring with them endorsements and advertising opportunities that only serve to make this market all the more lucrative. Let’s take a look at the ten hottest online gaming companies in the world in 2021.
It should come as no surprise that one of the top online gaming companies in the world is the Japan-based Sony. Its Playstation console is the market leader around the world and Sony provides some of the most popular first-party games for players. Play with friends and opponents all over the world with its high speed network, and download games directly to your machine from the online Playstation Store. Sony has sold over 13 million Playstation 5 consoles globally, and the machine is in such high demand that there are still waitlists at retail outlets over a year since it was released in November 2020.
The other major player in the next-generation console wars is Microsoft, one of the largest companies in the world by market cap. Microsoft’s latest Xbox console has been just as hot of a seller as the Playstation 5, and the latest releases of popular Microsoft flagship games like Halo have provided gamers around the world with reason to celebrate this holiday season. Microsoft also owns the popular game franchise Minecraft, which is one of the most played games in the world.
If there is one franchise that defines mainstream online gaming right now, it’s Activision Blizzard’s flagship franchise Call of Duty. The series has become a global phenomenon and one of the best selling game series of all time. Call of Duty has nearly single-handedly brought competitive gaming to the mainstream, as there are eSports leagues all over the world that are dedicated to the series. Activision Blizzard also has a number of other high profile franchises in its portfolio including Diablo, World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Overwatch, and Candy Crush.
While Call of Duty and Halo are popular, there may be no game that is as popular right now as Fortnite from Epic Games. The first person shooter has taken the gaming world by storm and brings in billions of dollars in revenues for merchandise and game sales. Epic also produces other popular games like Gears of War and Unreal. In fact, Epic’s Unreal gaming engine is used as the platform and developing environment for a majority of the next–generation games on the market. Epic made headlines by taking tech giant Apple to court over how much the company takes from mobile app sales from the Apple App Store.
The online casino industry is booming, especially with more states legalizing online gambling every year. Some reports anticipate that the global online gambling market will be worth upwards of $130 billion on its own by the year 2027. The rapid growth has been facilitated by wider access to mobile data networks and high speed internet in regions that were previously not connected. Legal new online casinos are increasingly growing in the United States.
Online casino companies like BetMGM, Hard Rock Casino, DraftKings, Barstool, and Fanduel are seeing exponential growth in their customer bases, particularly with their mobile apps. You might not think of the online casino industry as gaming, but it accounts for a significant share of the market.
A name that is not as well known in the Western world, Tencent is actually the largest gaming company in the world. The Chinese tech conglomerate dominates the Asian markets, particularly in China. Tencent develops its own games, and owns significant stakes in other online gaming companies as well. The company owns 100% of companies like Riot Games, as well as majority stakes in Supercell, the developer of the hit mobile game Clash of Clans, the aforementioned Epic Games, Garena, as well as minority stakes in Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft, and Roblox. Tencent even owns a stake in Discord, the popular chat and video streaming platform that is used by many gamers to broadcast their gameplay. The company’s most popular games in North America include Call of Duty Mobile and PUBG Mobile, one of the first battle royale games for mobile devices.
As popular as they are, first person shooting games are just not for everyone. Enter the online sports gaming market of which the undeniable global leader is FIFA Online. Electronic Arts develops the popular FIFA series, as well as NFL Madden, NHL, and the PGA Tour. But Electronic Arts does not just do sports games! The company develops the online games for the Star Wars franchise, as well as the first person shooter Battlefield, and Fortnite’s biggest competitor, Apex Legends.
How can we forget the company that introduced most of us to video games in the first place? Nintendo is the beloved Japanese gaming company that has given us cultural icons like Mario, Zelda, and Donkey Kong. The latest console from the company is the Switch, which is aimed at a younger audience while also appealing to the child in all of us. Nintendo isn’t quite known as much for its online gaming presence, but with the next-generation releases, the company has brought some of its classic party games like Mario Kart, Super Smash Brothers, and Animal Crossing to the online market. If you want an added hint of nostalgia, Nintendo has even made their classic library of games for the Original Nintendo and Super Nintendo consoles available online. Play the games of your childhood online against your friends or family anywhere in the world!
Don’t forget about mobile gaming companies! Zynga makes always popular series like Farmville and Words with Friends. Many of Zynga’s games are integrated into social media platforms like Facebook so that you can play directly against all of your friends. Zynga also makes games for the online poker industry and is currently developing games for the Nintendo Switch as well.
While not strictly an online gaming companies, Bethesda has branched out with two of its more popular series. First, Bethesda owns the Elder Scrolls franchise which is one of the most popular RPG games in the world. It won critical acclaim for its Skyrim sequel and recently introduced Elder Scrolls online to the world. Bethesda also develops the Fallout series which is also being brought online for the next-generation consoles.