Video games are now one of the largest entertainment categories worldwide. Globally, people are spending $200 billion on video game products each year, with that number expected to grow by at least 10% annually as the entertainment category proliferates into older audiences and emerging markets.

For the companies that are the gaming leaders worldwide, this secular growth is a recipe for long-term stock price appreciation, making gaming stocks great buy-and-hold candidates for your portfolio.

Here are three leading gaming stocks to consider buying in March 2023.

1. Electronic Arts: Leader in sports gaming

My first pick is Electronic Arts (EA -0.38%), one of the oldest and largest gaming publishers in the United States. Through internal development and acquisitions, EA has come to own some of the most successful franchises in gaming, with four being the most important right now: FIFA Soccer, Madden NFL, The Sims, and Apex Legends. It also has a strong relationship with smaller gaming studios through its EA Originals platform and an ongoing partnership with Disney to produce Star Wars and Marvel games.

With durable demand from gamers each year, EA has been able to consistently compound its revenue to new heights. Over the last 12 months, revenue was $7.4 billion, which is up over 10,000% since the company went public in late 1989. 

EA Revenue (TTM) Chart.

EA Revenue (TTM) data by YCharts.

Over the next five to 10 years, EA can continue growing its top line by investing heavily in mobile gaming, which only makes up 17% of the company's revenue but is now around half of the overall gaming market.

For example, the company just relaunched FIFA Mobile, which is now estimated to be doing $11 million in monthly revenue and has a significant growth opportunity if the title can keep attracting new players around the world. Management is investing tons of resources into building mobile titles for its popular franchises, which will steadily come out over the next three to five years.

In the past, EA has been a steady grower and should continue to do so in the future. That makes the stock an easy buy if you want consistent long-term performance in your stock portfolio. 

2. Take-Two Interactive: The most successful entertainment property ever

Like EA, Take-Two Interactive (TTWO 0.72%) is a video game publisher in the United States. But unlike EA, it relies on putting its eggs in a few franchise baskets instead of diversifying across a ton of gaming categories. The single most important franchise in its portfolio is Grand Theft Auto.

Grand Theft Auto (GTA) titles are open-world experiences where players can steal cars, interact with in-game stories, and complete missions to rise in the ranks of a fictional criminal world. Its last title -- GTA V -- was released in 2013 and has sold a whopping 175 million units over the last 10 years.

The average selling price for GTA unit sales is unknown, but assuming they are around $50 (new titles routinely sell for $70 in the gaming world), that equates to $8.75 billion in lifetime sales, or more than both Avatar movies grossed at the box office, combined. And this is before considering add-on content that Take-Two sells within its GTA Online service, which has steadily grown in popularity each and every year. 

A new GTA game was recently announced to be under development, creating huge anticipation among the gaming community. The exact release date is not known, but it is safe to assume it will be coming out within the next few years. If the game can equal or even pass the commercial success of GTA V, there is likely a lot of upside in Take-Two's share price.

3. Nintendo: Family fun and IP expansion

Nintendo (NTDOY 0.08%) is a well-known leader in the gaming industry, specifically targeting family and kids' content through its popular franchises like Mario, Pokémon, and Animal Crossing.

With an integrated model where the vast majority of its titles are sold exclusively on its own hardware devices, Nintendo has a huge distribution advantage that few (if any) publishing competitors can match. This allowed it to retain a leadership position in the gaming world for multiple decades. For reference, over the last 12 months, Nintendo generated revenue of $12.66 billion, which is only surpassed by Playstation, Xbox, and the Chinese gaming giant Tencent

I believe Nintendo can retain its pole position in family gaming content for decades to come. But the company has ambitions beyond just gaming, hoping to turn itself into more of a Disney-like entertainment giant.

This year, the company is releasing an animated Super Mario Movie as its first foray into video content. It opened two theme parks called Super Nintendo World in conjunction with Universal Studios, with plans to open four around the world (locations are Japan, Singapore, California, and Florida) over the next few years. It also is planning to open multiple Nintendo stores in major urban markets to sell merchandise and interact with its most intense fans.

These expansion projects should bring in money on their own, but more importantly will drive even more demand for Nintendo's games, which is how it prints billions in profits each year. If the company is successful with these new initiatives, I think the stock can do very well for shareholders over the next decade and beyond.