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Magazine Names Top Game Suppliers

4 Nov, 2003 By: John Gaudiosi

In the $30 billion video game business, the field of players is narrowing, but the amount of money being made continues to grow. Game Developer Magazine has ranked the top 20 video game publishers according to sales, and it's no surprise that Redwood City, Calif.-based Electronic Arts (EA) topped the list. Here's a rundown of the top five, and their future prospects.

No. 1 -- Electronic Arts
Thanks to its reliance on growing franchises in the sports (“Madden,” “NBA Live,” “NHL” and “NASCAR Thunder”) and Hollywood-licensed series (“Harry Potter,” “James Bond” and “The Lord of the Rings”), the software publisher raked in almost $2.5 billion in revenue last year, beating out hardware giants Sony Computer Entertainment ($2.18 billion) and Nintendo ($2.13 billion).

EA, which has 4,000 employees, published 103 titles last year, half of which were licensed games. This fall promises to be very successful for EA, with such hits as Medal of Honor: Rising Sun, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing, Madden 2004, NBA Live 2004 and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004.

No. 2 – Sony
Sony has 12 internal studios churning out game franchises like “Jak & Daxter,” “Ratchet and Clank” and “Gran Turismo.” The company shipped 44 first-party games last year and has several big hits ready for this fall and beyond, including Jak II, SOCOM II and Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando for November as well as Rise to Honor, Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain and Gran Turismo 4 slated for Q1.

No. 3 – Nintendo
Nintendo has been struggling on the hardware front, but continues to put out strong games and dominates the portable market space. This fall, titles like Mario Kart: Double Dash, Mario Party 5 and 1080 Avalanche should appeal to the hardcore GameCube fans. LucasArts' GameCube-exclusive Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike should also help the company move its newly repriced $99 hardware.

No. 4 – Activision
On the software side of the business, No. 1 EA's revenue is almost three times as much as that of its closest software-only competitor, Santa Monica, Calif.-based Activision ($864.1 million). The game studio has also relied on Hollywood licenses (“Spider-Man,” “X-Men”) and extreme sports (“Tony Hawk's Pro Skater”) to find its global audience. The company has this year's answer to Grand Theft Auto in True Crime: Streets of L.A.

No. 5 -- Vivendi Universal
French-owned Vivendi Universal Games ($832.5 million) got its No. 5 ranking as a result of PC edutainment titles through its Knowledge Adventure brand. The company has also relied on licensed Hollywood content (“Battlestar Galactica,” “The Cat in the Hat,” “The Fast and the Furious” and “The Hulk”) to bulk up its console business, which accounts for a scant 25 percent of its revenue.

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