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Video game publisher

Video game publishers are companies that publish video games that they have either developed internally or have had developed by a video game developer. Most video game publishers also produce and publish computer games, but the term "video game publisher" is often used generically to refer to companies that publish interactive games despite the platform used to play them.

Table of contents
1 Overview
2 Business Risks
3 Investor interest
4 Selected Video Game Publishers
5 Other video game publishers
6 Notable former video game publishers


As with book publishers, video game publishers are responsible for their product's manufacturing and marketing, including market research and all aspects of advertising. They usually finance the game development, sometimes by paying a video game developer (the publisher calls this external development) and sometimes by paying an internal staff of developers called a studio. The large video game publishers also distribute the games they publish, while some smaller publishers instead hire distribution companies (or larger video game publishers) to distribute the games they publish. Other functions usually performed by the publisher include deciding on and paying for any license that the game may utilize; paying for localization; layout, printing, and possibly the writing of the user manual; and the creation of graphic design elements such as the box design. Large publishers may also attempt to boost efficiency across all internal and external development teams by providing services such as sound design and code packages for commonly needed functionality.

Because the publisher usually finances development, the publisher usually tries to manage development risk with a staff of producers or project managers to monitor the progress of the developer, and assist as necessary. Most video games created by an external video game developer are paid for with periodic advances on royalties. These advances are paid when the developer reaches certain stages of development, called milestones.

Business Risks

As businesses go, video game publishing is risky:

Investor interest

Video game publishers who are publicly traded on stock markets are not known as a successful group. Interest from investors varies with time. At present, Electronic Arts is the only third-party publisher present in the S&P 500 diversified list of large U.S. corporations. Interest from outside investors was high during two notable periods:

Selected Video Game Publishers

The top 20 video and computer game publishers, ranked by Game Developer Magazine in September 2003 in order of estimated game sales revenue:

  1. Electronic Arts
  2. Sony Computer Entertainment (console manufacturer)
  3. Nintendo (console manufacturer)
  4. Activision
  5. Vivendi Universal Games (including Universal Interactive, Sierra Entertainment, and Blizzard)
  6. Take Two Interactive
  7. Atari (formerly Infogrames)
  8. Konami
  9. Microsoft (console manufacturer)
  10. Sega (former console manufacturer)
  11. Square Enix
  12. Ubisoft
  13. THQ
  14. Capcom
  15. Bandai
  16. Namco
  17. Acclaim
  18. Koei
  19. Eidos Interactive
  20. Midway Games

Other video game publishers

Notable former video game publishers

Some of these publishers went out of business; others were purchased or merged with a larger company, and no longer do business under this name, or they exist in name only as a brand.

See also: video game, video game developer, game designer, game programmer, console manufacturer