Top 10 Asian game companies by revenue 2021
PUBG Mobile, a free-to-play battle royale video game developed by Tencent.

Asian Tech Press (Apr. 27) -- Revenue from the global gaming market reached $175.8 billion in 2021, with approximately 3 billion gamers. Of the total revenue, about $90 billion came from mobile games, followed by console games and PC games with about $49 billion and $36 billion respectively.

In the past year's global gaming market, Asian game companies performed well and absorbed money strongly.

Sensor Tower data shows that Chinese gaming giant Tencent's "PUBG Mobile" and "Honor of Kings" ranked as the top two mobile games by global revenue in 2021, accumulating $2.8 billion each. And "Genshin Impact" from Chinese gaming company miHoYo was in third place, with $1.8 billion in revenue in 2021.

Meanwhile, Japanese video game company Nintendo's "Pokémon GO" and "Garena Free Fire" from Singapore-based Sea Ltd. each earned more than $1 billion in global revenue in 2021.

Based on the findings, Asian Tech Press (ATP) has ranked the top 10 Asian gaming companies in 2021 based on their gaming business revenue that year.

The list includes three companies from China, four from Japan, two from South Korea and only one from Singapore.

Top 1: Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Gaming business saw growth stalls, with overseas market 5 times more than its domestic market.

In 2021, total revenue from Chinese gaming giant Tencent's gaming business was about $27.38 billion, up 12% year-on-year. In terms of amount alone, its revenue from game business exceeded that of Sony and was nearly three times that of NetEase, making it a well-deserved dominant player.

However, with a high baseline for gaming industry due to COVID-19, Tencent's game business slowed down and slightly underperformed NetEase.

Tencent's revenue growth in overseas markets significantly exceeded that of its home market. 2021 saw revenue growth of 6% YoY in the company's China market and 31% YoY in its overseas gaming business, five times faster than that of its home market.

Top 2: Sony Group Corp.

Overall business is outperforming, but lags in developing first-party games.

Sony continued to secure its No. 1 position in Japan with gaming revenue of approximately $24.87 billion in 2021.

Sony's gaming hardware business continued to grow despite the global chip shortage. According to its third quarter earnings for fiscal year 2021, as of Dec. 31, 2021, it shipped 17.2 million PlayStation 5 consoles and 116.8 million PS4 units worldwide. Meanwhile, PlayStation Plus subscribers reached 48 million.

In the third quarter of fiscal year 2021, Sony sold a total of 92.7 million copies of PS4 and PS5 games, 11.3 million of which are first-party games, published by Sony itself, accounting for only 12.2%, while 62% of them were for a digital copy.

Obviously, continue to improve the first-party game lineup, will be the direction of Sony's future efforts.

Top 3: Nintendo Co., Ltd.

Revenue was less than Sony, while profit was more than 1 times

Japan's other gaming giant Nintendo generated revenues of about $15.3 billion in 2021, lower than rival Sony.

But it is worth noting that in terms of profit, Nintendo outpaced Sony's $2.63 billion with $5.4 billion. Its AR game "Pokémon GO" ranked 6th in the global mobile game market with revenue of $1.2 billion in 2021.

Top 4: NetEase Inc.

Revenue grew steadily, with self-published games such as "Naraka: Bladepoint" and "Harry Potter: Magic Awakened" blowing up.

China's NetEase's posted revenues of approximately $9.87 billion from its online gaming services in 2021, up about 15% YoY, accounting for about 71.69% of NetEase's total revenue.

The growth in its gaming revenue was driven by increasing expenses for R&D of NetEase's online games and marketing of its services.

"Naraka: Bladepoint", an action-adventure battle royale game published by NetEase, started its public beta test on Steam last August and sold more than 6 million in three months, setting a new sales record for buy-to-play games in China.

The company's other self-developed "Harry Potter: Magic Awakened", a collectible card game based on Harry Potter IP, generated $180.7 million in its first month and recorded revenue of over $228 million in less than two months since its limited launch in select Asian countries on September 9, 2021.

Top 5: Sea Ltd.

Revenue increased 114.3% YoY, and "Garena Free Fire" was the most downloaded mobile game in the world.

Singapore-based gaming and e-commerce giant Sea Ltd., Known as "Southeast Asia's mini Tencent", reported revenue growth of 127.5% YoY in 2021, with full-year revenue from the gaming and entertainment business of about $4.3 billion, up 114.3% YoY.

The major driver of Sea's growth is "Free Fire", a multiplayer battle royale mobile game developed and published by its gaming unit Garena. According to data tracker, "Garena Free Fire" is the most downloaded mobile game worldwide in 2021 and has maintained the place for three consecutive years.

Garena's quarterly active users reached nearly 500 million and quarterly paid users hit nearly 80 million, up 61.4% and 123.5%, respectively.

Top 6: Bandai Namco Holdings Inc.

Revenue declined YoY, with "Gundam U.C. Engage" and "Dragon Ball" contributing about 70%.

Tokyo-based Bandai Namco's online entertainment business, including games for home consoles, arcades and mobile phones, saw a 6.84% YoY decline in sales revenue to about $2.65 billion in 2021.

Of the total, its online content sales fell 11.3% YoY, still relying on classic mobile game series such as "Dragon Ball" and "One Piece". Bandai Namco's new game "Mobile Suit Gundam U.C. ENGAGE", which was released in the fourth quarter of 2021, remained a top seller, somewhat reversing the earlier steady decrease in revenue.

However, Bandai Namco's profit from its online entertainment business fell 14.04% YoY in 2021 due to an increase in development and upfront costs for new large-scale IPs year-on-year. The company's gaming business, a major business alongside toys, has been in a bitter battle.

Top 7: 37 Interactive Entertainment Network Technology Group Co. Ltd.

High growth in overseas business, and becoming the third largest game developer in China.

Known as 37Games, 37 Interactive Entertainment's revenue exceeded $10 billion for the first time in 2019, making it one of the highest-grossing Chinese game companies after Tencent and NetEase. The company's 2021 financial earnings show that 37 Interactive Entertainment achieved revenue of $2.55 billion.

The rapid growth of overseas business is undoubtedly one of the highlights of 37Games in recent years, with the highest monthly turnover of the company's overseas published mobile games exceeding 500 million yuan, with a combined total of over 30 million newly registered users and the highest monthly active users (MAUs) exceeding 8.5 million.

According to Sensor Tower data, 37 Interactive Entertainment ranked fourth among Chinese publishers in terms of revenue in August 2021, a new high, while coming in 10th worldwide by gaming revenue.

Four of its games, including "Doula Continent: Soul Master Duel", "Trading Legend", "Puzzles & Survival" and "Song of the Cloud City", were listed in the top 15 Chinese mobile games in terms of overseas revenue growth in August 2021.

Top 8: Nexon Co., Ltd.

Sales down, several new games awaiting launch.

South Korea's Nexon achieved full-year revenue of approximately $2.38 billion in 2021, down 6% compared to 2020.

For such performance, Nexon CEO Owen Mahoney said that in 2021 the company focused on the development of large all-new IPs that would be disclosed in 2022 and worked to ensure a new growth momentum.

In addition, Nexon has launched 2D action RPG "Dungeon & Fighter Mobile" on March 24, and will also release new games such as "KartRider: Drift", "ARC Raiders", "Hit2" and "DNF Duel" one after another.

Top 9: Netmarble Corp.

More popularity in overseas than at home, blueprint for metaverse emerging.

Seoul-based Netmarble achieved full-year sales of approximately $2.08 billion in 2021, up just 0.8% YoY. Among them, its overseas sales reached about $150 million, accounting for 73% of the total, another record high.

Facing challenges from a growing number of competitors in different tracks, Netmarble is betting on the metaverse, hoping to reverse its weak performance in its home market by capturing the new opportunity.

In January this year, the Korean game developer announced more than 20 games of different genres under the theme of metaverse and blockchain, including a number of NFT and P2E games such as "Everybody's Marble: Metaworld".

At the same time, Netmarble also announced that it would cooperate with HBO to develop a mobile game adaptation of Game of Thrones, which is also the world's first mobile game using Unreal Engine 5.

Top 10: NCSoft Corp

Revenue declined 4% YoY, with "Paradise W" hitting a record high.

The other Korean gaming giant, NCSoft, performed poorly. In 2021, its sales were approximately $1.92 billion, down 4% year-over-year.

However, its multi-platform MMORPG "Paradise W" recorded the best results in all metrics for all generations of NCSoft games, and the game's traffic has continued to increase.

In 2021, "Paradise M" generated approximately $450 million in revenue and "Paradise 2M" earned about $540 million.

Special Focus: HoYoverse Pte. Ltd

A dark horse in China's gaming industry, making "Genshin Impact" become a phenomenal topselling game.

As a growing international company founded in Shanghai, China, HoYoverse, commonly known as miHoYo, has become a leading player in China's digital entertainment industry. Earlier, it was said that the company had achieved revenues of over 20 billion yuan in 2021, and some even predicted that its earnings were expected to exceed those of NetEase.

Although miHoYo is narrowly behind Korean gaming giant NCSoft in 11th place among those Asian game companies by revenue in 2021, its "Genshin Impact" was a phenomenal hit that must be mentioned.

"Genshin Impact", which debuted globally on September 28, 2020, has generated $2.4 billion in revenue worldwide from the App Store and Google Play to date.

Considering its higher net profit margin, miHoYo is considered to have surpassed NetEase and become the second largest game developer in China after Tencent if only net profit is counted.

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