A little research on game stocks goes a long way...

Video Game Stocks

Below is a listing of virtually every publicly-traded video game stock (and symbol) in existence around the world. I also include personal commentary on select game stocks, but please don't make any investment decisions based upon my opinions. I am not a stockbroker, although I did have my series 7 license up until a few years ago. If you trade these gaming stocks, you're on your own buddy.

Activision/Blizzard - ATVI
Activision was originally founded in 1979, and has grown into a behemoth company with a market cap of over $14 billion (market cap means you multiply the outstanding shares by the current share price). They recently purchased Blizzard, and thus World of Warcraft, which was and is the top subscription-based MMORPG video game in the world. Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, and Guitar Hero are some of their best-known titles. Activision's CEO, Bobby Kotick, is a polarizing figurehead. Some think he's a genius, and some...don't. My view is that he would fall into the latter category, specifically:

- His primary focus is to monetize
everything; it's maniacal.
- He believes gamers are "clamoring" for a CoD subscription based system. Say
- He fired Call of Duty creators Vince Zampella and Jason West at Infinity Ward for breach of contract, who then signed with Electronic Arts, followed by over 35 loyal employees. Keep in mind, CoD is an extraordinarily important element within Activision's video game portfolio.
- He publicly admits that he doesn't play video games, the reason being he thinks he'd become addicted (what a lame politician-esue answer). He doesn't even play Activision's games to give them the green light before publishing! Ok, so let's get this straight: the CEO of the largest video game publishing company in the world does not play video games. That alone would prevent me from buying this stock.

Electronic Arts - ERTS
Formed in 1982, Electronic Arts ("EA" for short) specializes in sports titles, but over the past several years has done diversified it's game lineup considerably. The Sims, Dead Space, Madden Football, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, Battlefield, and Mass Effect are some of their more notable franchises. In 2008 they made financial headlines when they offered $2 billion to purchase Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) at $26 per share. TTWO's management declined, and the stock closed today at $10.46. Sounds like management at both companies is equally imbecilic.

Take-Two Interactive - TTWO
Formed in 1993, this company is wrought with controversy. It seems they are always pushing the proverbial lines (GTA and Manhunt), making them the prima-donnas of the video game industry. Their game library includes Grand Theft Auto, Bioshock, Mafia, Max Payne, and Red Dead. Sounds like an impressive list, right? It is, which makes one wonder why they seem to lose money every quarter. Their market cap sits at less than $1 billion, making them a prime target for acquisition. In fact, the EA bid I mentioned above was turned down by Take Two management, even though it would have been a great decision for their stockholders. This type of management behavior during a takeover bid is common; where management of the company being acquired is afraid their cushy jobs will be eliminated (or worse, private use of the corporate jet could be relinquished), and thus they posture themselves as steadfastly against any bid, regardless of merit, behind the guise of making the best decision for shareholders. It's pathetic. Since the bid of $26 per share from EA, TTWO shares have fallen to $10.46 as the market of close today. This belongs in the rant section, doesn't it?!

Ubisoft - UBSFF
This France-based company was formed by five brothers (the Guillemot's) in 1986, and is now 20% owned by EA. Their game portfolio includes Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, Myst, all Tom Clancy games (Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon, H.A.W.X., and Rainbow Six), as well as Prince of Persia. A market cap of less than $1 billion makes this company a prime takeover candidate as well, although that chance has been lessened with EA's considerable ownership percentage. One problem is that the company is not US-based, and as such they are not held to our fairly stringent GAAP rules, making it little more difficult to determine their true earnings.

THQ Interactive - THQI
Incorporated in 1989, THQ Interactive is becoming less and less relevant with each passing year in my opinion. Sure, they've got some great games in their line-up, including Saints Row and Red Faction, but despite this their earnings are weak and their gaming portfolio is fairly bland. In contrast to TTWO, at least THQ has a positive cash flow, although with a market cap of just over $300 million, they're a very small fish in a very large pond.

Konami - KNM
This company has been around for a long time, and any NES player remembers their name fondly (Contra, anyone?). Based in Japan, but with locations around the world, they still churn out popular games from popular franchises such as Castlevania, Meta Gear, and Contra (overdue). Oh, and in 1981, they published a game that achieved some fame: Frogger.

Nintendo - NTDOY
The mother of all gaming companies, Nintendo prefers in-house software development (as opposed to acquiring a popular intellectual property by purchasing an independent developer, which is what most companies do). Oddly, they are also majority owners of the Seattle Mariners. Home to Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Donkey Kong, Mario and Zelda games), Nintendo took a leap of faith with its Wii console, and it has paid huge financial dividends. They are the most kid-friendly of the major publishers, rarely showing blood in their games (they wanted a blood-free version of Mortal Kombat in the 90's). Despite their immense size, they remain innovative and are willing to take calculated risks.

Gamestop - GME
Previously Babbage's (founded in 1984), this company has been making money hand-over-fist as of late, helped by their adoption of dealing in used games (this is where the big money lies). Think Funcoland, but with new games too. Although their business follows the cyclical ebb and flow of the overall video game industry, they have minted a fortune in recent years. In 2009, they opened over 400 new stores around the world, and currently have over 48,000 employees.

Atari - ATAR
Founded in 1982 by Nolan Bushnell, Atari had some groundbreaking moments, but far more disappointing failures. After the success of their Atari 2600 console, they've become an industry punchline. In 2008, Infogrames purchased Atari for $11 million, and then changed the entire company's name to Atari in 2009. In April of 2010, Nolan Bushnell re-joined Atari as their CEO. Their corporate story is, from what I've read, being turned into a big budget movie.

Eidos - EIDSY
In their prime, Eidos Interactive had some well known games in their portfolio, including Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, Thief, Legacy of Kain, Timesplitters, the infamous Kane and Lynch, and the even more infamous Daikatana. After a series of disappointing years, Eidos was purchased by Square Enix.

Interplay - IPLY
Barely a speck on the video game industry's screen, Interplay published a few games you may have heard of including MDK, Earthworm Jim, and Fallout. Before you say, "Hey! Fallout is a great game!" keep in mind we're talking Fallout 1 and 2, not Fallout 3. In 2007, Bethesda purchased the rights to the Fallout franchise, while Interplay retained the rights to a Fallout MMORPG.

Midway Games - MWY
Sumner Redstone, the media billionaire, used to own a controlling majority (87% at one point) in this company, and I have never understood why. It's struggled since it's glory days in the mid-90's when it published Mortal Kombat, a franchise it spent over a decade bleeding dry (no pun intended). At one point the envy of the industry, Midway has fallen to the depths of mediocrity and financial distress.

Mad Catz Interactive - MCZ
While not a video game publisher, Mad Catz focuses on video game peripherals such as controllers, joysticks, and cables. I've never been particularly impressed with their products, as they can seem cheap and relatively generic.

Capcom - CCOEF
Short for "Capsule Computers," this Osaka, Japan based company has produced venerable titles such as Mega man, Street Fighter, Devil May Cry, Resident Evil, Final Fight, Dead Rising, and Lost Planet. They have stood the test of time, and are firmly entrenched as a pillar in the video game industry.

Here is a list of video game stocks and symbols that I am not overly familiar with:
Gravity - GRVY
Immersion - IMMR
Bam Entertainment - BFUN
Mad Catz Interactive - MCZ
Shanda Interactive - SNDA
Webzen - WZEN