The gaming industry remained strong throughout the 2008 recession, as companies like Nintendo continued selling millions of Wii and DS consoles. The same won't necessarily be true if a recession hits again, as prices for games and consoles soared astronomically since then. But there are some silver linings to the gaming market today.
Game subscription services, microtransactions, and the booming mobile gaming industry offer multiple avenues for game companies to gain revenue outside of new titles and console sales. In fact, analysts expect total global video game revenue to increase from $235.7 billion in 2022 to $321.1 billion in 2026, a rise of 36%.
As a result, it might not be a bad idea for patient investors to consider adding gaming stocks to their portfolios, and there are some excellent choices in October. So let's take a look.
Electronic Arts: A sports games titan
Although tech stocks have been hit particularly hard in 2022 as rising inflation has lead to decreases in consumer spending, Electronic Arts (EA -0.65%) has managed to stave off the worst market declines. The Nasdaq-100 Technology Sector index shed 36% of its value since January, while EA has lost a more moderate 9.4% in the same period.
The company has a near-monopoly on the sports genre with premium live service games, including FIFA and Madden NFL, and other popular series such as The Sims, Apex Legends, and Battlefield. EA's diversified mix of live services and other revenue-generating games makes it one of the most reliable companies to invest in.
Moreover, EA's venture into mobile gaming has further varied its business, and provided a positive boost to revenue. The company's mobile bookings hit more than $1.2 billion in the 12 months ending in June, a 49% increase year-over-year. Analysts expect the mobile gaming market to grow from $140.5 billion in 2022 to $173.4 billion in 2026, which could mean significant gains for EA with its attractive catalog of sports and battle royale smartphone titles.
Take-Two Interactive: A beaten-down stock with promise
As one of the most successful game companies, Take-Two (TTWO -0.94%) is home to the world's most profitable entertainment product: Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V). The game launched in 2013, and soon became the fastest entertainment release to hit $1 billion, later earning the title of most financially successful media title in 2018 when its revenue reached $6 billion.
Take-Two has continued milking its cash cow since it released, with GTA V earning $911 million in 2020 from game sales and microtransactions. The company is home to a variety of other successful titles, such as Red Dead Redemption and NBA 2K, but its astronomical success with GTA V puts considerable pressure on its sequel, due to release within the next couple of years. As a result, Take-Two's stock fell 12.4% between Sept. 19 and Sept. 26 after footage of the upcoming GTA VI leaked online.
The company's stock has recovered some since then, but is still down 34.7% year-to-date as its expensive acquisition of mobile games company Zynga hurt its forecasted earnings. The company expects to report a full-year net loss of $2.50 to $2.75 a share on revenue of $5.73 billion to $5.83 billion when analysts projected $6.4 billion. However, Zynga's revenue rose from $907.2 million in 2018 to $2.8 billion in 2021, which suggests the acquisition will likely prove fruitful for Take-Two, but it will take time.
With a promising venture into mobile games and a highly anticipated sequel to GTA V on the way, October might be the perfect time for long-term-minded investors to snap up Take-Two's stock.
Microsoft: A true force
Substantial market share in lucrative industries such as gaming, cloud computing, and desktop operating systems makes Microsoft (MSFT -0.32%) one of the most diversified tech and gaming companies investors can add to their portfolio. Brands such as Xbox, Windows, Azure, and Office make it a true force in the industry.
Microsoft has become one of the biggest names in gaming, and sells the successful Xbox console and the Windows operating system -- which is used by 96% of PC gamers, according to Valve.
Moreover, Microsoft is currently in the process of acquiring the games company Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. The purchase is undergoing regulatory approval, but if it's successful it would make Microsoft the third-largest gaming company by revenue in the world after Tencent and Sony. The acquisition would also secure the company one of the most profitable game franchises in the world, Call of Duty, which generated $27 billion since 2003.
Buying shares of Microsoft ahead of the likely acquisition -- especially given its growing 21% market share in the $203.5 billion cloud market -- is the right move this month.