The video game industry is booming…but for investors, separating the winners from the losers isn’t child’s play. The global video game market is likely to double to $300 billion in revenue by 2025, according to tech research firm GlobalData, driven by the expansion of mobile-phone and online gaming and the entry of deep-pocketed competitors such as Amazon, Apple and Google in addition to longtime players Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony. Also, there has been tremendous growth in games played by multiple players over the Internet, such as Fortnite, in which 100 players fight against one another for survival. And rather than buying individual games in stores such as GameStop, players are paying fees for monthly subscriptions to online services that allow them to stream or download games.
Two subscription services—Apple Arcade and Google Stadia—were launched last year, hoping to become the Netflix of gaming. But they’ve had lukewarm results, partly because of competition from free online video game providers such as Epic Games, the privately held maker of Fortnite. Epic made more than a billion dollars in 2019, not by charging for the game but by selling optional virtual accessories such as character outfits.
My take: Content will remain king. Investors should focus on third-party video game publishers with a history of churning out blockbuster games for consoles, PCs and mobile devices. Their stocks can benefit no matter what platform gamers choose to play on or what business model prevails. Two attractive video game publishers now…
Activision Blizzard (ATVI) hits include World of Warcraft, which has had $9 billion in revenue since 2004. It partners with YouTube to stream live broadcasts of tournaments for games such as Overwatch and Call of Duty.
Electronic Arts (EA) makes best-selling games such as the FIFA soccer series, Madden NFL and Battlefield.