Video game publisher

A video game publisher is a company that publishes video games that they have either developed internally or have had developed by a video game developer. As with book publishers or publishers of DVD movies, video game publishers are responsible for their product's manufacturing and marketing, including market research and all aspects of advertising.

They often finance the development, sometimes by paying a video game developer (the publisher calls this external development) and sometimes by paying an internal staff of developers called a studio. The large video game publishers also distribute the games they publish, while some smaller publishers instead hire distribution companies (or larger video game publishers) to distribute the games they publish. Other functions usually performed by the publisher include deciding on and paying for any licenses used by the game; paying for localization; layout, printing, and possibly the writing of the user manual; and the creation of graphic design elements such as the box design.

Large publishers may also attempt to boost efficiency across all internal and external development teams by providing services such as sound design and code packages for commonly needed functionality.

Because the publisher often finances development, it usually tries to manage development risk with a staff of producers or project managers to monitor the progress of the developer, critique ongoing development, and assist as necessary. Most video games created by an external video game developer are paid for with periodic advances on royalties. These advances are paid when the developer reaches certain stages of development, called milestones.

Business risks

Video game publishing is associated with high risk:

  • Contrasting with the big budget titles increased expense of "front-line" console games is the casual game market, in which smaller, simpler games are published for PCs and as downloadable console games. Also, Nintendo's Wii console, though debuting in the same generation as the PlayStation 3[9] and the Xbox 360,[10] requires a smaller development budget, as innovation on the Wii is centered around the use of the Wii Remote and not around the graphics pipeline.

Investor interest

Numerous video game publishers are traded publicly on stock markets. As a group, they have had mixed performance. At present, Electronic Arts is the only third-party publisher present in the S&P 500 diversified list of large U.S. corporations; in April 2010, it entered the Fortune 500 for the first time.[11]

Hype over video game publisher stocks has been breathless at two points:


Major publishers

Below are the largest publishers in general according to their revenue in BIllions of Euros.[12]

2015 Name of Publisher Revenue in €bn
1 Japan Sony Computer Entertainment 9.89
2 China Tencent 7.73
3 United States Microsoft Game Studios 7.25
4 Japan Nintendo 3.92
5 United States Activision Blizzard 3.32
6 United States Electronic Arts 3.25
7 Japan Bandai Namco Games 2.05
8 Republic of Ireland King Digital Entertainment 1.7
9 South Korea Nexon 1.55
10 France Ubisoft 1.46

Mid-size publishers

Below are the top AA (midsize) video game publishers, ranked by Metacritic in January 2014 based on game quality according to reviews.[13] These lists are based on the ranking by best to worst publishers according to metacritic's website. Note that two major publishers, Take-Two Interactive and Sega fell to mid-size and one, Square Enix, jumped from mid-size to major. Three mid-size publishers ranked in 2013 were dropped from 2014 chart, namely Xseed Games and Kalypso Media. Note also that iOS games were not included in the figures.

2014 Position Name of Publisher 2013 Position
1 United States Telltale Games N/A
2 Sweden Paradox Interactive 4
3 Japan Capcom 2
4 United States Take-Two Interactive N/A[note 1]
5 Japan Sega N/A[note 2]
6 Hungary Zen Studios N/A
7 United States Devolver Digital N/A
8 Japan Konami 1
9 United Kingdom Slitherine Strategies N/A
10 United States NIS America 9
11 United States Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment 3
12 Japan Koei Tecmo 7
13 Japan Atlus 6
14 Italy 505 Games 5
15 Japan Aksys Games N/A
16 Germany Deep Silver 9
17 France Focus Home Interactive 10
  1. Was #1 as a major publisher
  2. Was #7 as a major publisher

See also


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