The Industry's Top Video Games

Not surprisingly, big studios were behind 2013’s top video games. But to one industry observer, the story also isn’t that simple.

Feb 8, 2014 at 7:35AM

V

Michael, a bank robber and one of three main characters in Grand Theft Auto V. Source: Rockstar Games.

Once more, big studios dominated the list of 2013's top video games.

You know the names: Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA), and Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO) joined France's Ubisoft (NASDAQOTH:UBSFF) with more than two games each in NPD Group's list of last year's top 10 best-selling video games:

Rank
Game
Platforms
Developer/  Publisher

1.

Grand Theft Auto V

Xbox 360, PS3

Rockstar Games / Take-Two Interactive

2.

Call of Duty: Ghosts

Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, PC, Wii U

Infinity Ward / Activision Blizzard

3.

Madden NFL 25

Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One

EA Tiburon / Electronic Arts

4.

Battlefield 4

Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, PC

EA Digital Illusions CE / Electronic Arts

5.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PC

Ubisoft Montreal / Ubisoft

6.

NBA 2K14

Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, PC

Visual Concepts / Take-Two Interactive

7.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, PC

Treyarch / Activision Blizzard

8.

Just Dance 2014

Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, Xbox One, PS3, PS4

Ubisoft Milan / Ubisoft

9.

Minecraft

Xbox 360

Mojang, 4J Studios / Microsoft

10.

Disney Infinity

Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, Wii U, 3DS

Avalanche Software / Walt Disney

Sources: IGN, NPD Group, Wikipedia.

What can we take from this list? Maybe that, when it comes to in investing in video0game publishers, it's generally better to stick with the stalwarts than to bet on an upstart.

"Gamers are weird," says Justin Cavender, executive editor covering video games for Geek Legacy. "Sometimes they get bored with [big titles] and ask for something new. But then when something new comes out, they don't give it a chance."

Fickle fantasy
Consider the sad tale of former baseball star Curt Schilling, whose 38 Studios spent tens of millions to produce the action role-playing title Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. The company closed its doors in May 2012, barely three months after releasing the game and Schilling -- recently diagnosed with cancer -- is still battling the state of Rhode Island, which backed the studio with a $75 million loan.

Console timing didn't help, Cavender says. Amalur launched toward the end of the last refresh cycle, just as Microsoft and Sony were developing the Xbox One and PS4. Gamers may not have been ready to bet big on a new title with new hardware on the horizon.

The next legendary opportunity?
Publishers are doing what they can to mitigate the risk. In some cases, they're avoiding consoles entirely, and making a mint in the process. Riot Games' League of Legends, for example, which The Wall Street Journal reports as serving 27 million players daily.

That's a massive number that, according to SuperData Research, accounted for $624 million in revenue from in-game add-ons. "You pay a dollar here and a dollar there for characters and [more] to customize them. It adds up," Cavender says, noting that he expects to see more publishers to embrace the model.

Rockstar, for its part, isn't waiting. Grand Theft Auto Online has become so dependent on these sorts of "microtransactions" that the game has its own regulated economy. In October, parent Take-Two injected a first round of "stimulus" to compensate for technical glitches some players had suffered in the early going.

Looking ahead
So what can we expect for the rest of 2014 in video games? That's tougher to say. Unless, that is, you ask Gamespot, which has already identified the three most anticipated games of the coming year. As an investor, I'm inclined to bet on the biggest name franchises and none come bigger than Grand Theft Auto. I still don't believe it's fair to value parent Take-Two for less than the retail sales footprint of its signature property -- especially when there are so many more games in its portfolio, from Bioshock to the 2K imprint of sports games to Max Payne and Red Dead Redemption.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Which do you rate as the industry's top video games? Would you buy, sell, or hold Take-Two Interactive stock at current prices? Leave a comment in the box below to let us know what you think.

Start 2014 off right
The best defense against failure in the market is preparation, and that means doing the hard work to find big winners before they take off. Are you willing to make that sort of commitment? Let us help. The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has just hand-picked his favorite opportunity for the year ahead in our new report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014." Free and immediate access is simply a click away, so get your copy now.

Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Walt Disney at the time of publication. Check out Tim's Web home and portfolio holdings, or connect with him on Google+Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool recommends Activision Blizzard, Take-Two Interactive, and Walt Disney and owns shares of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft, and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.


Compare Brokers