Mobile gaming has exploded in popularity over the past decade. As smartphones have become ubiquitous and mobile internet speeds have increased, gaming on the go has become a massive industry. In 2021, mobile gaming revenue surpassed $90 billion globally, accounting for over 50% of the total gaming market.
The mobile gaming landscape is dominated by a handful of major publishers. The top 10 companies account for over half of all mobile gaming revenue worldwide. Let‘s take a look at the 10 largest mobile gaming companies and delve into their key games, revenue sources, and future outlook.
Headquarters: Shenzhen, China
2021 Mobile Gaming Revenue: $27.9 billion
China‘s Tencent is by far the largest mobile gaming company worldwide. It single-handedly generated over 25% of global mobile gaming revenue in 2021.
Tencent‘s mobile gaming empire is built on mega hits like Honor of Kings, PUBG Mobile, and Clash of Clans. It also owns Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends, one of the most popular PC games ever.
The Chinese tech giant has aggressively expanded its gaming business by acquiring stakes in Western publishers like Epic Games, Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard, and Supercell. Tencent also partners with Nintendo for distribution of the Switch console and games in China.
Looking ahead, Tencent aims to further grow its international footprint. It seeks to build on the success of PUBG Mobile by localizing more games for Western markets. The company is also investing heavily in cloud gaming technology.
Headquarters: Hangzhou, China
2021 Mobile Gaming Revenue: $10 billion
Fellow Chinese firm NetEase is the world‘s second largest mobile gaming company. While it doesn‘t match the scale of Tencent, NetEase has found major success with in-house developed titles.
NetEase struck gold with mobile versions of popular PC franchises like World of Warcraft and Minecraft. It has partnered with Activision Blizzard and Microsoft to localize these games for Chinese audiences.
More recently, NetEase has focused on creating mobile adaptations of Western IPs tailored specifically for Chinese gamers. Harry Potter: Magic Awakened and The Lord of the Rings: Rise to War exemplify this approach.
2021 Mobile Gaming Revenue: $4.3 billion
Singapore‘s Garena mainly publishes games focused on the Southeast Asian market. Garena launched Free Fire in 2017, and it has become one of the world‘s most popular mobile games with over 1 billion downloads.
Garena has leveraged Free Fire‘s BR gameplay formula into new variations like Free Fire MAX. It also licenses major titles like League of Legends and FIFA Online 3 in Southeast Asia.
The company aims to further grow its mobile esports ecosystem in the region. Garena organizes high-profile Free Fire esports tournaments and sponsors esports teams.
4. Activision Blizzard
Headquarters: Santa Monica, CA, United States
2021 Mobile Gaming Revenue: $3.2 billion
Activision Blizzard is the largest Western mobile gaming firm. However, mobile only accounts for a small portion of its overall business. The company is better known for hit console and PC franchises like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.
In the mobile sphere, Activision Blizzard largely relies on two key titles. Call of Duty Mobile has proven a big success, generating over $1.5 billion since launching in 2019. Its 2013 acquisition King Digital also provides major mobile revenue through Candy Crush Saga.
Microsoft is acquiring Activision Blizzard for nearly $69 billion. The deal isn‘t finalized yet, but it would make Microsoft the third-largest mobile gaming company.
Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan
2021 Mobile Gaming Revenue: $2.3 billion
Cygames has emerged as the leading mobile gaming firm in Japan. The company is owned by internet provider CyberAgent.
Cygames scored a massive local hit with Uma Musume Pretty Derby, a unique horse girl mobile RPG. The game generated close to $1 billion in 2021 alone.
In Japan, Cygames also finds success with established franchises like Granblue Fantasy and Puzzle & Dragons. The developer partnered with Nintendo on mobile title Dragalia Lost.
As one of the biggest fishes in Japan‘s pond, Cygames is focused on retaining its domestic dominance against NetEase and Tencent. The quirky appeal of its games also presents an opportunity to attract more overseas players.
Headquarters: San Francisco, CA, United States
2021 Mobile Gaming Revenue: $2.25 billion
Zynga established itself as a mobile gaming pioneer with early Facebook hits like FarmVille. Today, Zynga caters to a more casual, female-skewed mobile audience.
Its hyper-casual titles like High Heels! have generated over 1 billion downloads. Zynga‘s acquisition of companies like Peak Games and Rollic has expanded its arsenal of quick snack-sized games. Advertising, in-app purchases, and downloads drive revenue.
In 2022, Zynga was acquired by Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two Interactive for $12.7 billion. The deal cements Take-Two‘s position in the mobile gaming big leagues.
Headquarters: Helsinki, Finland
2021 Mobile Gaming Revenue: $2.24 billion
Supercell is one of the most successful Western mobile gaming developers. The Finnish studio is owned by Tencent and produces a selective handful of top-grossing titles.
Supercell struck gold twice with Clash of Clans and Clash Royale. These two games account for the vast majority of Supercell‘s revenue. Both Clash titles have amassed huge competitive esports scenes.
Supercell‘s games thrive by keeping players engaged over years through frequent updates and in-game events. Though its catalog is small, Supercell generates more revenue per employee than any other developer.
Headquarters: Shanghai, China
2021 Mobile Gaming Revenue: $1.5 billion
MiHoYo has rapidly ascended into the top echelon of mobile gaming on the back of just one game. Genshin Impact launched in 2020 and made nearly $3 billion across all platforms in 2021.
This anime-style action RPG creates an open-world adventure for players to collaboratively explore. Genshin Impact stands out through its production value, depth of content, and gacha monetization system.
Building on the success of Genshin Impact, miHoYo is expanding into merchandise, anime, and other media. Its next major release Honkai: Star Rail aims to follow in Genshin‘s footsteps.
Headquarters: San Francisco, CA, United States
2021 Mobile Gaming Revenue: $908 million
Niantic pioneered real world mobile gaming through location-based AR technology. It was initially an experimental Google startup before pivoting to focus on its own IP.
The developer struck gold with Pokémon GO in 2016. The AR sensation generated over $5 billion in just 5 years. Pokémon GO remains Niantic‘s most lucrative game by far.
Niantic leverages its platform for major brand partnerships like Pokémon GO. The company is working on AR versions of titles with Nintendo, Sony, and others. It aims to establish its platform as critical infrastructure for AR gaming.
10. Electronic Arts
Headquarters: Redwood City, CA, United States
2021 Mobile Gaming Revenue: $718 million
Although not primarily known for mobile titles, Electronic Arts rounds out the top 10 largest companies. EA is better recognized for its console and PC franchises like FIFA, Madden, Battlefield, and The Sims.
However, EA has ramped up its mobile gaming presence through acquisitions. It acquired Glu Mobile for $2.1 billion in 2021, inheriting titles like MLB Tap Sports Baseball and Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.
EA‘s latest mobile titles center on casual, sports, and RPG genres. The publisher is also working to bring established console IP like Apex Legends and Sims to mobile platforms.
- Tencent dominate the mobile gaming industry, generating over 25% of global revenue in 2021. Chinese firms like NetEase and miHoYo are also major players.
- Mainstream Western publishers like EA and Activision Blizzard are playing catch-up in the mobile space. Social and casual games are proving most successful.
- Acquisitions are reshaping the industry, such as Microsoft‘s deal for Activision and Take-Two‘s purchase of Zynga.
- Japanese and Korean gaming firms have yet to gain much mobile traction outside their home countries.
- AR developers like Niantic represent the future direction of mobile gaming technology.
The mobile gaming industry shows no signs of slowing down. With an estimated 2.8 billion mobile gamers worldwide, publishers will keep churning out content to meet demand.
A few key trends will shape the future of mobile gaming:
Continued Growth in Emerging Markets – Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America offer massive untapped mobile gaming potential. Developers are localizing content for these markets.
Cloud Gaming – Services like Xbox Cloud Gaming, Amazon Luna, and Google Stadia will enable AAA franchises to expand to mobile through streaming.
Cross-Platform Experiences – More developers are releasing titles across iOS, Android, PC, and consoles to maximize accessibility and revenue.
Advanced Monetization – Publishers will keep innovating models like battle passes, subscriptions, and embedded advertising to monetize mobile users.
AR/Geolocation Integration – Location-based AR gaming gained popularity through Pokémon GO. Expect more developers to experiment in this space.
Esports Expansion – Competitive tournaments and leagues will drive further momentum around multiplayer mobile titles.
While the mobile giants of today like Tencent won‘t be dethroned anytime soon, the field is more open than ever for upstarts and indie developers to create the next smash hit. The barriers to entry in mobile gaming are low compared to developing for consoles and PCs. Viral hits like Among Us have shown that innovative ideas executed well can gain huge user bases out of nowhere.
As technology advances to enable richer gameplay experiences on smartphones, mobile gaming will increasingly resemble immersive AAA titles traditionally confined to PCs and consoles. The line between mobile and non-mobile gaming continues to blur. Major players across the industry will eventually derive a sizable chunk of business through mobile platforms.