CounterStrike: Global Offensive. Apex Legends. Fortnite. League of Legends. Starcraft. These are all massive games, all of them among the top ten esports today. The companies behind them are usually massive corporations with billions in revenues each year, releasing one "serious" "triple-A" game after another. These publishers, in turn, are not dedicated solely to their high-profile business. Some of them are rounding up their cash flow with games that are not considered "serious" by the community - but they are surprisingly popular among players.
Ubisoft released its first "Rayman" game in 1995 - it was a side-scrolling platformer with Rayman, an alien hero with a constant smile on his face, out to save its colorful homeworld from the evil Mr. Dark. The game was first released on Atari Jaguar, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn, followed by a PC (MS-DOS) release later in the year. The game was an unexpected success, spawning a 44 game franchise across all platforms from legacy consoles and smartphones. And it introduced a bunch of characters that are goofy, funny, and completely unexpected from the company that gave us Assassins Creed and Far Cry 5: the Rabbids.
The Rabbids series is a Rayman spinoff that first emerged in 2006. These funny characters - called Lapins crétins in French. Since then, these insane furries were turned into a TV series and a comic book series, made their way onto various pieces of merchandise, and a feature film version is also in the works. Oh, and 14 games were released featuring them.
Candy Crush (Activision Blizzard)
King.com, the company behind the popular Candy Crush franchise, released its biggest success on Facebook in 2012. The game was insanely popular, being downloaded by almost 3 billion people since its release and generating $1 million per day for its publisher at its peak. This situation was crying for a takeover: Activision Blizzard, the company that gave us everything from Call of Duty to StarCraft and Overwatch bought the company in February 2016 for US$5.9 billion.
Plants vs. Zombies (Electronic Arts)
When you hear Electronic Arts, you think of Need for Speed, Anthem, Apex Legends, and Star Wars: Battlefront - and not Zuma, Peggle, Bejeweled, and Plants vs Zombies. Surprising as it may sound, EA has a massive pile of popular casual games in its portfolio, developed over its 20-year history by PopCap Games.
PopCap Games was founded in 2000 and made its breakthrough with "Bejeweled", a jewel-swapping browser game, in 2001. The game set the template for most of the "match-3" games to come and was inducted into the Computer Games Hall of Fame in 2002. Over the years, PopCap released several successful casual games, ranging from Alchemy and Peggle to Zuma but its biggest success to date was the tower defense title "Plants vs. Zombies" - the one that spawned an entire franchise.
PopCap was acquired by Electronic Arts in 2011 - the gaming giant reportedly paid around $1.3 billion for the company. Since then, the company has released several free-to-play sequels to its titles, including several titles in the "Plants vs. Zombies" series.
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