Richest People in the Gaming Industry

We look into those who made a fortune out of video games and how they did it, what impact they had on the gaming industry, and what they do with all this cashload

In 2019, the gaming industry is bigger than ever, and video games are the most profitable form of entertainment. It’s fair to say that gaming is the future. Today, we take a look at the wealthiest of moguls in the industry to find out just how they have accumulated astonishing amounts of money and what do they do with it. Some invest, some give it to charity. Some like to talk about philanthropy, and some donate quietly. For you, gaming is a hobby, but for these people, it’s business first and foremost.

Disclaimer: not all data may be accurate since not everyone discloses their net worth and things change fast in our hectic world.

William Ding — $14.7B, NetEase

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William Ding has made billions thanks to NetEase, which he founded in 1997. There he helped create MMORPGs like Fantasy Westward Journey. His company also operates localized versions of Minecraft, World of Warcraft, Diablo III, Overwatch, and Hearthstone – one of the biggest titles in the world. Now NetEase is working on its first multiplayer VR game with an open world setting.

Ding was China’s first gaming billionaire, and in 2003 he was the richest Chinese overall. Now NetEase is one of the largest producers of MMORPGs and mobile games. It works closely with Mojang (Microsoft) and Blizzard and faces fierce competition from Tencent.

In 2005, Ding donated $1.2 million to China's Red Cross Society in order to help the tsunami victims in China.

Random fact: In 2012, Ding’s NetEase went into pork production.

Tim Sweeney — $7.18B, Epic Games

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Who controls Fortnite, controls the world. Or something like that. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney is certainly loaded, with a net worth well over $7 billion ($7.18B to be exact). He’s #217 on this year’s Bloomberg list of world’s richest people. That means that he’s officially wealthier than Rupert Murdoch and Gabe Newell.

It’s not Fortnite that made him rich though. Epic Games has long been a prosperous company with tons of successful projects. It was founded in 1991 (as Potomac Computer Systems) back when Sweeney was studying mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland. The company then was renamed Epic MegaGames and, in the end, just Epic Games. It’s the sole owner of Unreal Engine, one of the most popular game engines out there.

Tim Sweeney is a known philanthropist who spends millions on conservation projects. For instance, he donated $15 million to protect 7,000 acres in his home state of North Carolina.

Random fact: Tim spent over 10,000 hours learning programming on online forums.

Robert ‘Bobby’ Kotick — estimated $7B, Activision Blizzard

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Activision Blizzard is one of the biggest names in the world of gaming – in many ways thanks to its CEO Bobby Kotick, who bought a 25% stake in Activision in 1990.

Kotick started as a software developer for Apple – he was one of the people who worked on the famous Apple II computer. At that time, he was going to the University of Michigan, but, as per Steve Jobs’ recommendation, Kotick decided to drop out to concentrate on his entrepreneurial career.

In 1991, he acquired Activision for $440,000 to save it from extinction and was appointed CEO. After the merger with Blizzard (a decision he was very supportive of), he has become the new company’s boss.

In the gaming world, Kotick is known for being hard on his partners, sometimes forcing them to make changes for the “benefit of the gaming community”. Still, many gamers consider him more of a corporate figure – not someone who actually cares about the games. But no one will argue that he’s a very successful person: according to Celebrity Net Worth, he has a net worth of $7 billion and owns 4,635,300 shares of Activision Blizzard as well as 70,000 shares of Coca Cola, which constitutes $3.3 million. In 2008 he earned $30,841,004 – 319 times the typical employee. This fact alone forced The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations call it “legal highway robbery”; it was also implied that Kotick evades taxes.

Random fact: Kotick appeared in Moneyball, a 2011 film starring Brad Pitt. Soon after the film’s director Bennett Miller shot a short Call of Duty movie.

Kim Jung-ju — $5.46B, Nexon Corporation

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Kim Jung-ju is a well-known South Korean businessman, famous for his company Nexon, founded in 1994. It was he who launched the world’s first MMORPG Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds, which allowed the company to grow (2018 was a record year for revenue and income) exponentially; now it’s the largest gaming company in South Korea. With Kim as the CEO, the studio released a bunch of popular titles such as MapleStory, KartRider, and Mabinogi. Now Kim controls 47 percent of Nexon. He’s not as ‘’clean’’ as Sweeney, though: his name has long been associated with bribery charges; in 2017, he received a suspended two-year prison sentence.

Kim also enjoys philanthropy, especially technology, health and education of the youth. In 2016, he invested more than $18 million into Korea’s first pediatric rehabilitation hospital.

Random fact: He’s the pioneer of the freemium gaming business model.

Gabe Newell — $4.85B, Valve

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Gabe Newell is one of the biggest gaming superstars. He’s the famous co-founder of Valve, known for both fantastic games, including Half-Life, Portal, and Counter-Strike, and Steam, the largest video game digital distribution platform for PC.

In 1983, after Gabe dropped out of Harvard University, he started working at Microsoft, where he helped to perfect the early version of Windows. In 1996, he founded Valve along with another programmer Mike Harrington. The debut game from the company, Half-Life, became a cult and commercial success – the studio has sold over 9.3 million copies since 1998.

Gabe Newell is a popular, albeit a bit controversial (remember when he called PlayStation 3 ‘’a waste of time’’?) figure in the gaming world. He’s not really known for philanthropy, although he is one of the co-founders of Foundry10, an educational company which explores non-traditional learning.

Random fact: He’s not overly fond of hugging.

7. Kwon Hyuk-Bin — $4.1B, Smilegate

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Smilegate is one of the biggest South Korean game developers and publishers, and it owes everything to its founder, Kwon Hyuk-Bin. Created in 2002, the company gained nationwide fame after the release of CrossFire, one of the most popular first-person shooters in the world.

Kwon’s first foray into the market was unsuccessful: his education startup 4Csof collapsed soon after its creation. After that Kwon declined Samsung’s offer – he wasn’t interested in a job, he wanted to develop video games. Thanks to Smilegate’s partnership with Tencent, CrossFire has generated over $6.8 billion in revenue.

Kwon is a known philanthropist: he spent over $5 million building schools in Vietnam and China and donated more than $2 million to Sogang University, his alma mater.

Random fact: In 2018, he was Korea’s #8 richest man.

Michael Morhaime — $1.8B, Blizzard Entertainment

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Michael Morhaime is a big name in the gaming industry, mostly thanks to his involvement with Blizzard Entertainment, which he co-founded in 1991. In 2018, he stepped down as the president and CEO.

It all started with Bally Professional Arcade – an obscure game console that inspired Morhaime to start writing his own games, even though he focused more on hardware than on software. After he got an internship at a San Jose microchip company, Morhaime started thinking about his own company. Thus, Silicon & Synapse was co-founded with Allen Adham and Frank Pearce. Later it was renamed as Blizzard.

A legend in the gaming world, Morhaime helped to create World of Warcraft, one of the biggest games ever, which led to him being honored at the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards.

TheRichest estimated his net worth to be at least $1.8 billion. In 2017, Morhaime made a $2.25 million deal on a seven-bedroom home in Rancho Mirage, California.

Random fact: A man of many talents, Morhaime also plays bass guitar in Elite Tauren Chieftain – a fictional metal band consisting of Blizzard employees.

Taek-Jin Kim — $1.7B, NCSoft

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Kim Taek-jin is the founder and the CEO of NCSoft, #2 online gaming company in South Korea. Before striking on his own, Kim oversaw the development of the first online internet service in Korea. He founded NCSoft in 1997, and in 1998 released their first game – the massively popular Lineage. In 2004, it was followed by Lineage II and City of Heroes. Along with Hancom’s founder Lee Chan-jin, he developed Hangul Office, the popular South Korean word processing application. Kim owns 12% of NCSoft, which is equivalent to almost $1.1 billion.

Random fact: Kim himself is a massive baseball fan, and the owner of NC Dions, which he founded in 2011.

Markus "Notch" Persson — $1.6B, Mojang

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Sometimes all it takes to become a billionaire is one successful game. In this case, it’s one of the biggest titles ever made – Minecraft. It was developed by Markus Persson aka Notch, along with Carl Manneh and Jakob Porser. Previous to that, Markus was mostly known for Wurm On­line.

After Minecraft had gained cult status, the Swede has decided to sell it along with his studio Mojang for $2.5 billion. That decision skyrocketed him into becoming one of the wealthiest people in gaming. In 2014, he paid for a $70 million home in Beverly Hills. Persson himself said that he mostly spends money on computer stuff and traveling. In 2014, he said that being rich is ‘’weird as f**k’’ and promised to donate a sizable amount of his money to charity.

Notch is a controversial figure, mostly for his political opinions, some of which have been labeled “tone-deaf” by critics.

Random fact: Notch is a member of Mensa International, the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world.

Shi Yuzhu — $1.5B, Giant Interactive

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Shi Yuzhu is not the name you hear often, at least in the West. In China, though, he’s one of the most influential persons, famous in the profitable world of online gaming. He is chairman of Giant Interactive Group, which focuses on MMO games, most notably ZT Online.

A graduate of Zhejiang University, Shi starting making money in the 1980s, while working with computer software. Since then he’s tried various roles, and now he serves as the CEO of Minsheng Bank. Shi’s far more eccentric than many of his peers: his vast knowledge, taken from comics and books, allowed him to become one of the most tech-savvy persons in the country. In China, he’s a well-known figure, with more than 6.5 million followers on Sina Weibo (Chinese social network).

Random fact: Shi’s previous company, Zhuhai Giant Hi-Tech Group, founded in 1991, was destroyed by massive debt. Reason? Allegedly, Mr. Shi wanted to build China’s tallest building, but 70-story skyscraper was never completed.

Igor and Dmitry Bukhman — $1.4B each, Playrix Holding Ltd.

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Igor (left) and Dmitry (right)

A few years ago, nobody has heard about Russian brothers Igor and Dmitry Bukhman, but now each of them is worth about $1.4 billion. All thanks to their insanely successful Playrix Holding Ltd, which serves as a conveyor belt for many of the most popular mobile games around. Playrix publishes casual mobile titles like Fishdom and Gardenscapes, and it’s one of the biggest in mobile publishing. It’s possible that soon it’ll be able to challenge Activision.

It all started in Vologda in 2001. Two brothers didn’t know anything about business, they just wanted to code games. They started not with Half-Life, but with smaller projects that often copied the classics, like Xonix or Tetris. When Facebook and smartphones appeared, the brothers took the opportunity to go global. Now they employ more than 1100 people around the world.

Random fact: Their first game was developed on a Pentium 100-powered PC.

Mark Pincus — $1.2B, Zynga

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Mark Pincus is known for many things. In 1995, he founded his first startup, Freeloader, Inc. In 1997, he created Support.com. Pincus has 2 Ivy League degrees – no mean feat. A serial entrepreneur, he has always known how to multiply his fortune: he was a founding investor in a number of successful companies like Facebook, Snapchat, Xiaomi, and Twitter. In 2007, he created Zynga Inc., the studio that developed games for social media. Responsible for such universal hits as Words With Friends, Mafia Wars and FarmVille, it went public with a $1 billion IPO in 2011. Mark owns almost 7% of the company, which is worth $251 million.

Pincus is known for his and his companies’ altruistic work: Zynga has donated more than $20 million to charity.

Random fact: Zynga’s name and logo are inspired by Pincus’ dog, Zinga.

Yasuhiro Fukushima — $1.2B, Square Enix

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The honorary chairman of Square Enix Holdings, Yasuhiro Fukushima still plays a big role in the company he helped create. Fukushima is ranked #32 on Forbes Magazine's “Japan 50 Richest”. In 2019, his net worth is estimated to be $1.2B. Fukushima owns about 19% of Square Enix shares, worth $639 million.

Fukushima founded Eidansha Boshu Service Center in 1975. In 1980, tired of selling tabloids, he came up with a new subsidiary called Eidansha Systems, later renamed as Enix. The rest is history: Enix started publishing video games, most notable Chunsoft’s Dragon Quest series, still hugely popular in Japan.

In 2002, Enix merged with Square, which resulted in the creation of Square Enix, a true gaming colossus that owns IO Interactive, Eidos Interactive, and other well-known studios.

Random fact: The name Enix was formed by combining the words ‘’phoenix’’ and “ENIAC”, the world's first digital computer.

Kagemasa Kōzuki — $1.1B, Konami

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Kagemasa Kōzuki (middle)

Konami, founded in 1969 by Kagemasa Kōzuki as a jukebox rental and repair business, is now one of the biggest entertainment and gaming conglomerates in the world. Starting small with a couple of breakthrough hits like Frogger and Super Cobra, it’s grown into a massive company, known for Castlevania series, Silent Hill, Contra, Dance Dance Revolution and so on. Nowadays it mostly focuses on its gaming machines in casinos. Kōzuki, now 78 years old, continues to run it. In 2019 he was 35th richest person in Japan.

Random fact: For a CEO Kōzuki is very hard to reach – he’s a known recluse who rarely speaks in public.

Yoshikazu Tanaka — $1.1B, GREE

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GREE, Inc., a Japanese Internet media company, started as a hobby for Yoshikazu Tanaka. Now it’s a gaming giant, famous for its free-to-play mobile and social-network-based games.

In 2003, at the age of 26, Tanaka started working on his side-project, SNS GREE website. By that time, after a stint at Sony Communication Network Corporation, he was working at Rakuten, Inc. That’s when he got his idea to create his social network. Soon after, with the success of his idea, he was already ranked 24th among “Japan's 40 Richest Billionaires” by Forbes Asia.

GREE has a ton of successful games under its belt, including DragonSoul, Modern War and Knights & Dragons. In 2005 it acquired mobile game developer (and creator of mobile hits Crime City, Modern War, and Kingdom Age) Funzio for $210 million. In 2017 GREE closed three studious and called it quits on the Western market.

Yoshikazu Tanaka serves as GREE’s president and chairman. He owns a 46% stake ($442 million), and in 2019 his net worth is estimated to be $1.1B.

Random fact: Tanaka started taking interest in the way the technology changes our society after reading “Power Shift” by Alvin Toffler.

Paweł Marchewka — $1.1B, Techland

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Techland is one of the most famous Polish studios alongside CD Projekt RED. And there would be no Techland without its founder, Paweł Marchewka. With him as the CEO, the studio produced hit games like Dead Island and Dying Light.

Marchewka is a new name amongst billionaires. This year, he was included in the 100 richest Poles list published by Wprost, holding the 8th position with 4.36 billion zlotys (around $1.1 billion) net worth.

Techland started as a simple publishing company, which was mainly localizing computer programs for the Polish market. Soon after its creation, in 1993, it started working on its own software like translator programs and games. Now the company, which has an office in Canada, employs more than 300 people.

According to Marchewka himself, it was his interest in gaming that started it all. His first “company” was founded when he was in the fourth grade. Back then, he had to travel from his hometown Ostrów Wielkopolski to Wroclaw, where he could buy, copy and then sell Amiga games to anyone interested. His business wasn’t strictly legal, but at that time Poland had no strict piracy laws, and there was no one in the country to legally publish the titles. Now it is his games that are being pirated – the price of success.

Random fact: Techland is not a public company, and Paweł owns most of it.

Victor Kislyi — estimate $1B, Wargaming.net

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Wargaming is the one the most well-known and successful companies in Belarus, and its main product, World of Tanks, remains a massive hit with millions of active players. The game and its many spin-offs allowed the company’s creator Victor Kislyi to become the first ever Belarusian billionaire.

It all started in 1995 when Victor Kislyi was attending Belarusian State University in Minsk. In 1998, Victor along with his buddies founded Wargaming.net which worked on their first commercial product – DBA Online. After the relatively successful Operation Bagration in 2008, Wargaming finally had their breakthrough in 2010 with World of Tanks, an MMO featuring 20th-century era combat vehicles. The title allowed Kislyi – and Wargaming – to expand massively.

It’s hard to say whether Kislyi has retained his Billionaire title – in 2017 Forbes didn’t mention him at all.

Random fact: Kislyi really does love his creation. He himself had over 10 000 battles in World of Tanks – about 50 hours per month.

Hajime Satomi — $900M, Sega Sammy

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Hajime Satomi is the founder of Sammy Corporation, which has merged with Sega. The current President and Director of Sega Sammy Holdings founded pachinko maker Sammy in 1975, and since then the company has become one of the leading manufacturers of slot and pachinko machines. In 2004, he orchestrated the merger with Sega that resulted in the creation of $4.5 billion Sega Sammy Holdings Inc. In 2013, fearing the possible crisis of the gambling industry in Japan, Satomi helped build South Korea’s first integrated resort, Paradise City.

Satomi is ranked #50 on Forbes Magazine's “Japan 50 Richest”. As of now, Satomi owns 8% of the company and 5% of medical company MediciNova, which in total makes $314 million of his net worth. Haruki Satomi, his son, is the chairman and CEO of Sega Sammy.

Random fact: Hajime Satomi is a top-ranked owner of thoroughbred horses.

Palmer Luckey — estimate $700M, Oculus VR, Anduril Industries

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Palmer Luckey is not a household name, but his invention Oculus Rift certainly is. The famous VR kit that singlehandedly revived the world’s interest in virtual reality still plays a big role in the increasingly oversaturated market, while its creator has seemingly left gaming in order to track illegal immigrants. It’s a fascinating story.

Indeed, Palmer Luckey is a controversial person. After the early Oculus Rift success, the whole company has been sold to Facebook for $2 billion. In 2017, one year after the deal, Luckey was fired. Soon after he founded Anduril Industries – the defense technology startup that helps to detect illegal immigrants. It seems that he no longer wants to be the face of VR. His net worth is estimated to be at least $700 million.

Luckey is not exactly known for philanthropy, but in 2016 he did join the advisory board of Stack-Up – an organization that sends troops video games for rehabilitation. Most notably, he secretly donated $100,000 to fund Donald Trump’s inaugural celebrations. Not to mention supporting other Republican candidates.

Random fact: After the deal with Facebook, Luckey bought 1969 Ford Mustang convertible ($16,000+), a Tesla Model S ($75,000+) and a helicopter, which could cost from several hundred thousand to millions of dollars. But he still insists that newfound riches haven’t gone to his head, as he still lives with seven friends in a shared house.

Marcin Iwiński and Michał Kiciński — $670M and $580M, CD Projekt Red)

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Marcin Iwiński (left) and Michał Kiciński (right)

CD Projekt is a massively respected company, famous for the groundbreaking open-world RPG The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, as well as game distribution service GOG.com. Recent achievements helped it become the largest publicly traded video game company in Poland worth over $2 billion.

Of all this is thanks to its founders Marcin Iwiński ($670m) and Michał Kiciński ($580m), the 13th and 15th richest Poles, respectively. Both Iwiński and Kiciński owe about 22% of CD Projekt (one share is worth around $57,84). Things are obviously going well for them – in 2017, they were rated much lower (31st and 42nd places with $262 million and $230 million respectively). In the last three years, Iwiński alone has octupled his wealth. All of this has been possible most likely thanks to The Witcher’s popularity and the hype for upcoming Keanu Reeves-infused Cyberpunk 2077.

Random fact: Just like fellow-countryman Marchewka, schoolboys Iwiński and Kiciński started making money by selling pirated games from the West.

Ilkka Paananen — $400-700M, Supercell

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Ilkka Paananen is Finland’s top earner and the founder of Supercell – one of the hottest mobile game developers in the world. Starting with €5 million in 2005, he managed to transform the company into a $10 billion behemoth. All of this was possible thanks massively popular mobile titles like Clash of Clans, Hay Day, Boom Beach, and Clash Royale. In 2018 alone, Supercell’s games generated a profit of $635 million. Paananen’s net worth is estimated to be at least $400 million.

According to Paananen, most of his success was possible due to a couple of things: €5 investment from the Finnish government agency, one-year military training and unique structure of his company, where smaller teams have much more autonomy that one might expect. In 2016, Tencent Holdings Ltd. paid $8.6 billion to acquire Supercell. All Supercell employees are part owners; because if this, creative director Mikko Kodisoja and John Nicholas Derome have also been Finland’s top earners for quite some time. In 2017, Paananen’s salaries and capital gains amounted to $74.4 million.

Supercell is known to be a generous company, contributing millions to charity. After its employers donated €3.4 million to Finnish New Children's Hospital, they broke the record for the largest charity donation done by company employees in Finland. Co-founders Ilkka Paananen and Mikko Kodisoja also have founded the ME foundation, known for its charitable donations.

Random fact: Paananen believes that taxes benefit all: “We don’t use ‘tax-efficiency’ techniques. I’ve been ridiculously lucky with my life. There’s philanthropy – which we do – but contributing to free education and healthcare in the country you came from helps the next generation. Freedom and responsibility all the way.”

Don Mattrick — estimate $100-150M, Zynga, EA, Microsoft

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Don Mattrick is a former CEO of Zynga, a social gaming company. During his career, he worked at EA and Microsoft, where he was one of the bosses at Xbox. At the age of 17, he founded Distinctive Software, which (according to Geoff Mair interview with Don Mattrick - no live link, just a Wiki citation) had become the biggest independent game developer in North America prior to its acquisition by EA. That helped him get top positions at EA – he served as the President of Worldwide Studios and oversaw EA's global studios.

In July 2007, Mattrick found his way into Microsoft, where he acted as a Senior Vice President managing the Xbox 360 and PC businesses. With his help, the Xbox 360 installed base has grown rapidly, while Xbox LIVE started bringing serious money. Sadly, many people will forever remember him as “the guy who messed up the Xbox One unveiling”, when Microsoft’s new console was met with much negativity from the press and general public.

A few years later, in 2013, Mattrick left Microsoft and joined Zynga as the CEO. His time at the company was cut short – in 2015, after various losses, he resigned. Over the two-year period. Mattrick was said to receive $50 million in addition to estimate $15 million he reportedly received after leaving Zynga.

Other than that, after numerous years as the President of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, he surely accumulated a lot of money – he cashed out $21 million in stock options after leaving EA. In 2015, he sold his house in Vancouver for $51 million.

Random fact: According to former Xbox game designer Seamus Blackley, despite the fact that Mattrick had been working on the Xbox project for a while, he never believed in the console’s future success.

Sam and Dan Houser — estimate $80M and $100M respectively, Rockstar Games

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Sam (left) and Dan (right) Houser

The Houser brothers are one of the biggest world-builders in the world of gaming. After all, they were creative driving forces behind the world-famous Grand Theft Auto franchise. While Dan Houser has written most of GTA games, Sam Houser took the franchise into the 3D territory.

In 2009, both brothers appeared in Time magazine's 100 most influential people list. Despite this, not much known about them since the brothers shy away from the spotlight. Dan Houser, for example, is very unlike his most famous creations – he’s polite and quiet, and he cares a lot about his creations. “It’s not cool to be out there pursuing fame,” he tells in his interview to GQ. “I try not to have a massive ego. Video games will keep you fairly humble. It’s not the movie business.”

Both brothers love working with each other, and both earn millions at Take-Two Interactive; their latest creation Red Dead Redemption 2 broke several records by generating $725 million in sales from its opening weekend. A couple of years ago, Sam bought Truman Capote's previous New York home for $12.5 million. Now Rockstar Games is worth over $3.5 billion. Some estimate Sam’s worth to be about $80M, and Dan’s about $100M. In 2018, it was reported that the two brothers received the majority of $538M Take-Two's royalties, but Take-Two denied the information, saying that “thousands of team members benefit from the profits generated by the games.”

Random fact: Daniel Radcliffe played Sam Houser in the 2015 television film The Gamechangers.

Riccardo Zacconi — $27.2M, King, Activision Blizzard

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The first Italian on our list, Riccardo Zacconi, achieved fame thanks to King, the studio behind the notoriously popular Candy Crush Saga mobile game. His net worth is estimated to be $27.2M.

LUISS Guido Carli alumni, Zacconi started as a project manager and a consultant. He struck gold when he co-founded King, becoming its CEO. A decade letter it grew into one of the biggest and most profitable mobile gaming businesses worldwide. In 2016, the company was bought by Activision Blizzard for$5.9 billion. That didn’t help its biggest hit, Candy Crush: the number of its active users waned rapidly from 449 million in the fourth quarter of 2015 to 272 million in the first quarter of 2019.

In 2019, after 16 years at the help, Riccardo Zacconi stopped being King’s chief executive. Now he’s the new chairman with a base salary of £100,000 a year, plus a portion of King’s profits. Overall, Zacconi is Activision Blizzard’s second-highest paid executive after Bobby Kotick, of course. In 2018, he was due $3.6 million shares of King’s profits as well as $19.8 million as executive compensation.

Random fact: Zacconi is infamous for trademarking the word “Candy” and trying to force other game makers to stop using the word “Saga” in the title.

Richard Garriott — estimate $1.4-30M, NCSoft, Portalarium

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While by far not the richest person on our list, Richard Garriott is certainly one of the most interesting. After all, who else can claim that he is mostly known as “Lord British” and has actually been to space?

Garriott has been in the gaming business for a long time – since 1974. While at the university, he created Ultima, one of the most important and influential computer RPGs. In 1992, he sold his company Origin Systems to Electronic Arts for 30 million dollars. In 1997, he first came up with the term MMORPG (Massively multiplayer online role-playing game). In 2007, Richard, the son of NASA astronaut Owen Garriott, spent $30 million to visit the international space station for 12 days. A lifelong space enthusiast, he even bought the Soviet Luna 21 lander and the Lunokhod 2 rover in 1993 for $68,500.

Garriott’s net worth is estimated to be around $1.4 Million although it may vary. In 2010, he was awarded $28 million after his lawsuit with NCSoft was settled. Besides, Garriott likes to spend his money well; for example, he himself has built Britannia Manor in Texas – a custom built mansion with secret passages. The house was later sold for around $3.5 million.

Now Garriott serves as the CEO and Creative Director of Portalarium studio, where he has recently been developing Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues, a fantasy RPG and a spiritual successor to the Ultima series.

Random fact: Back in the ‘90s, Garriott had to scare off a deranged fan who broke into his house with an Uzi. While another intruder tried to break into his house last year.

Peter Molyneux — estimate $887K, 22Cans, Lionhead Studios

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The game industry knows a lot of divisive figures, but not many can boast such level of notoriety as Populous and Dungeon Keeper creator Peter Molyneux. Although many respect his vision and the ability to create games that are unlike anything else, most remember Molyneux as a, well, liar – that one guy who always oversells what he has in store and finally delivers a product that looks nothing like it was described. He’s also famous for his bizarre quotes, many of which you can find here.

The famous “overhyper” Molyneux is known for making bold claims about his games and rarely delivering on his promises. It happened with Black & White, and then again with Fable. Peter has a volatile temper, which resulted in him severing ties with Microsoft (which has bought Lionhead Studios from him in 2006 for at least $20 million) and the press. Recently Molyneux has been hyping up his new game called Legacy.

How rich is Molyneux? He himself says that he’s “not by any measure a hugely wealthy individual”, although his net may very well be worth at least £700k. Three years ago, Molyneux’s 22Cans was worth £1.2 million

Random fact: Peter Molyneux’s favorite gaming console right now is Nintendo Switch.

Todd Howard — estimate $100K-1M, Bethesda Game Studios

Richest People in the Gaming Industry-27

While it’s hard to accurately predict Todd Howard’s net worth, it’s clear that he, as executive producer of one of the biggest game studios in the world, has sufficient funds. Howard’s net worth estimates differ wildly from source to source: from $100K to $1M, and even $15M.

In the gaming world, Todd Howard is a famous and somewhat notorious figure. For many years, Howard has been leading the development of the Fallout and The Elder Scrolls series. Recently, though, people started turning on once lovable Todd – mainly due to his scandalous decisions concerning the recent developments of Fallout and other notable franchises. Both professional critics and gamers universally hated the ill-fated online-only Fallout 76, which he directed. But even with all the controversies, we can’t forget that Todd Howard has given the world the best The Elder Scrolls episodes, as well as Fallout 3. After all, he has created five consecutive Game of the Year award winners – a serious achievement.

Random fact: Bethesda rejected his application a couple of times – first when he was still in school, and then after he had graduated.

Jason Jones — estimate $100K-1M, Bungie

Richest People in the Gaming Industry-28

Jason Jones has always shied away from the spotlight, rarely giving away interviews, but his name is legendary in the gaming world. It was he, after all, who has co-founded the video game studio Bungie with Alex Seropian, and who brought the iconic Halo franchise to life. It’s hard, if possible at all, to guess his net worth, but it’s certainly substantial considering Jones’ successes. In 2005, Jones got into TIME Magazine's list of the 100 most influential people.

Jones found Bungie in 1991 while in his second year at the University of Chicago. Along with Alex Seropian, he published his game Operation Desert Storm, and together they created Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete. In 1996, Myth: The Fallen Lords was released to critical acclaim. But by far the most crucial and influential game on his resume is, surely, Halo: Combat Evolved, which has singlehandedly changed the way the shooters were made for the consoles. After a long sabbatical from Bungie, Jones returned with Destiny – a massively successful console online shooter. The Halo franchise alone has made more than $5 billion

Jones works as the Chief Creative Officer at Bungie, who is now thinking about its next new IP. In 2018, the company received $100M from NetEase, the Chinese internet tech giant.

Random fact: Unlike many others, Jones first started making games for Macs, not PCs.

The gaming industry is massive, and each year it produces new millionaires and billionaires. Some multiply their profit; some spend little time in the top 500. It’s almost impossible to remember everyone since everything changes so rapidly. Besides, the market can be turbulent, and things are changing fast.

Did we miss anyone? Be sure to let us know in the comments.