Combined value of private companies at $188 billion
(updated October 2021)
Beijing; est. 2012 / valuation reported as of Mar 2021
|$62.5 billion *|
Cary; est. 1991 / post-money valuation as of Apr 2021
Bellevue; est. 1996 / private, estimated value as of May 2021
|$17.8 billion †|
San Francisco; est. 2012 / post-money valuation as of Sep 2021
Seongnam; est. 2002 / private, estimated value as of May 2021
|$8.9 billion *|
Zurich; est 2010 / private, estimated value as of Feb 2021
Dublin; est. 2004 / private, estimated value as of Sep 2020
Shanghai; est. 2012 / rumored value as of Dec 2020
|9.|| Sorare |
Paris; est. 2018 / post-money valuation as of Sep 2021
San Francisco; est. 2010 / post-money valuation as of Jan 2019
Culver City; est. 2011 / post-money valuation as of Oct 2020
São Paulo; est. 2011 / post-money valuation as of Aug 2020
Wrocław; est. 1991 / private, estimated value as of May 2021
|$2.4 billion *|
|14.||Mobile Premier League |
Bengaluru; est. 2018 / post-money valuation as of Sep 2021
|15.||Animoca Brands |
Hong Kong; est 2014 / post-money valuation as of Oct 2021
Paris; est. 2013 / post-money valuation as of Aug 2021
Nicosia; est. 1998 / private, estimated value as of Feb 2016
|$1.5 billion †|
|18.||1047 Games |
Zephyr Cove; est. 2016 / post-money valuation as of Sep 2021
|19.||Devolver Digital |
Austin; est. 2009 / private, estimated value as of May 2021
|20.||Rec Room |
Seattle; est. 2016 / post-money valuation as of Mar 2021
|21.||Moon Active |
Tel Aviv; est. 2011 / post-money valuation as of Jan 2020
|22.||Jam City |
Culver City; est. 2010 / SPAC combined enterprise value as of May 2021
Tokyo; est. 2020 / post-money valuation as of Sep 2020
San Francisco; est. 2019 / post-money valuation as of May 2021
|25.||Dream Games |
Istanbul; est 2019 / post-money valuation as of Jun 2021
Bellevue; est. 1991 / private, estimated value as of May 2021
|$1 billion *|
|total combined valuation:||$188.8 billion|
(Original text, June 2021)
This list highlights private bootstrapped game companies, alongside the venture-backed game companies that have reached unicorn status on the path to initial public offering. Also included are the special purpose acquisition companies, valuated before completing the process.
Together, they represent $200.2 billion dollars in value.
The average gaming unicorn is 13.1 years in the making. There are fewer than thirty in the wild today.
These companies capture the public imagination, the capital markets’ resources, and the attention of the tech press at large. For entrepreneurs, they represent the holy grail for any start-up.
There are more companies that will eventually reach this stage of growth — if they are not acquired first.
Readers are encouraged to email with omissions. There are certainly private game companies with post-money valuations exceeding one billion US dollars that are not on this list. When companies decide to keep their status secret, there is a certain reputational and strategic price they pay. Most firms ultimately need visibility to succeed in the public market.
Return on Investment —
pre-IPO valuations are lower than after-market worth: e.g., Unity’s last private valuation was $6 billion; today the public market cap is $24.69 billion. Roblox’s last private valuation was $29.5 billion; today the public market cap is $42.86 billion. If the values on this list are not exceeded post-IPO, this may represent a failure to realize return for the last round of private investors.
Games One can state that Lilith Games is a unicorn based on revenues alone, though no value seems to be published in the west. VSPN is likely in the category as well. Reports indicate that Hypergryph and Papergames are worth tens of billions of RMB. Chinese companies are significant to the global market, but access to detailed information is limited.
Plantation; est. 2011 / valuation reported as of Sep 2020
|—$6.2 billion *|
London; est. 2012 / adjusted value as of Mar 2020
|—$1.5 billion *|
* Playstudios became publicly-traded on Jun 22, 2021; this Index originally had the SPAC combined enterprise value as of Feb 2021 at $1.1 billion.
* IronSource became publicly-traded on Jun 29, 2021; this Index originally had the SPAC combined enterprise value as of Mar 2021 at $9.4 billion.
* Krafton became publicly-traded on Aug 10, 2021; this Index originally had an over-the-counter valuation as of Apr 2021 at $17.9 billion.
* Nexters became publicly-traded on Aug 27, 2021; this Index originally had the SPAC combined enterprise value as of Feb 2021 at $1.9 billion.
* 1. ByteDance: GameLook reports 25% of the company revenue comes from gaming. Bloomberg reports shares trading at a $250 billion valuation at the end of March. South China Morning Post reports shares offered at a $400 billion valuation to new investors more recently—but does not confirm transactions closing at that price. For the purposes of this list, Games One features the gaming worth as 1/4 of the the most recent, credible valuation. That number will continue to increase before a final public offering.
† 3. Valve: in March of 2019, Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter valued Valve at $10 billion on behalf of Bloomberg, who then pegged the company estimate to performance of the Russell US indexes subsection for electronic entertainment, for the purposes of estimating the founder’s wealth in real-time. $17.8 billion is the current Pachter-Russell number. Games One neither agrees nor disagrees with that valuation, and presents it un-altered for context.
* 5. Smilegate: if the company ever goes public, it is only to add to their prestige. Smilegate has already reached status as a top five game company in Korea. Locals believe the exchange is not currently rewarding game companies as a sector, and Krafton had delayed IPO because of that—if that process is measured in months, then a Smilegate IPO would be measured in years. The market will appreciate in the interim. For the purposes of this list, Games One assigns a valuation to Smilegate, pegged to 50% of the current reported valuation of Krafton. Both firms had the same revenue in 2020, but the operating profits of Smilegate were some 47% of their competitor. That gives a fair market comparable for today, and should be reassessed upon future developments.
* 13. Techland: in June of 2019, Polish market research firm PMR valued the company at $2.5 billion. PMR’s sector analyst maintains an approximate valuation of $2.4 billion for the company today.
† 17. Wargaming: in February of 2016, Bloomberg profiled the founder, putting the company worth at $1.5 billion, less than 3x annual revenues. The valuation has not been revisited since. While the fundamentals of Wargaming have not changed significantly since then, the broader value of public game companies has risen in those five years. Games One neither agrees nor disagrees with the estimate, and presents it unaltered.
* 26. Bungie: the company has no public valuation, despite a $100 million investment from NetEase in June of 2018. Without knowing the fundamentals, Games One can reasonably say that, if Bungie were listed on a public stock exchange today, the share price multiplied by number of shares outstanding could reach $1 billion in total value, based on some brand loyalty from the public. If the book value is higher, that has not been effectively communicated to the street or to the industry.
— Magic Leap: in April of 2019, the company’s post-money valuation was $6.7 billion. According to PitchBook, institutional shareholders devalued that figure by 93%, and in mid-2020, the company was only valued at $450 million, accounting for a loss of $6.25 billion dollars in worth.
— Improbable: in July of 2018, the company’s post-money valuation was $2 billion. It was reported in March of 2020 the company had $500 million in cash, but the original business model failed. While the company continues to post losses, they expect an in-development game to achieve a surprise success and save the company. It’s possible. Games One believes the cash on hand gives them a phenomenal opportunity to transform into a leading acquisition company—building exceptional value through bold M&A strategy. Otherwise, marking down the valuation by 75% may be generous.
Copyright © 2021, by Evan Van Zelfden. All Rights Reserved.