Medicine and engineering – that’s where the money is, kids. That’s what your high school guidance teacher told you, anyway, but then, your high school guidance teacher was probably a 50-something perv named Mr Douglas who wore his pants pulled up too high and made creepy, inappropriate comments to the girls, and spent his days wishing he’d been a celebrity like Garry Glitter instead.
The fact is, if you want to get rich, you should go into the video games industry. These people would know:
In 1997, Jones started work on a real-time strategy game called Blam. After deciding it was much better as a third-person shooter, and then deciding it was much better as a first-person shooter, Jones then decided that Halo: Combat Evolved was a much better name. You know how that story ends – more than 43 million copies sold, over US$3 billion in the bank, and the total reinvention of the console FPS.
Jones keeps his personal finances private, but with big numbers like that to his name, he probably has to employ a team of biogenetically engineered super soldiers to keep that sort of information secret. That’s got to cost a bit.
After creating the Ultima series, “Lord British” dumped all that silly game design stuff for a bit and bought a US$30 million ticket to the International Space Station. For fun. Last year, he officially changed his name to Richard Garriott de Cayeux, which even sounds expensive.
The former president of EA’s Worldwide Studios division cashed in his stock options for US$21 million in 2009, before taking a new job as president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business where he spends a lot of time telling people that everything is better with Kinect. I’m sure his pay cheque counts too.
Bobby Kotick is CEO and president of mega-publisher Activision-Blizzard. If you had a dollar for every person who said “Bobby Kotick is evil”, you’d probably have about US$8.3 million a year. If you were Bobby Kotick, anyway.
Fukushima, an architect turned entrepreneur, started a little company called Eidansha Boshu Service Center in Tokyo in 1975. You probably haven’t heard of it. A few years later, the company was renamed Enix. You’ve probably heard of it. Several decades on, Fukushima’s estimated net worth is around US$660 million, which is way more than you can count on all your fingers and toes combined, so you know it’s a lot.
After dropping out of Aoyama Gakuin University in 1975, Satomi founded Sammy Corporation, an equipment manufacturer for Japan’s pachinko industry. In 2004, Sammy Corporation acquired Sega Corporation for $394 million, and you know where this is going. Forbes puts his net worth at US$1.15 billion.
Pincus owns Zynga, which basically means he also owns, like, half of Facebook. Which is oddly appropriate considering that just about every game put out by Zynga is like the other half of some other game released by another company. Like a twin, basically. Like an identical twin. He’s (in)famously admitted that “I did every horrible thing in the book too, just to get revenues right away. I mean we gave our users poker chips if they downloaded this Zwinky toolbar which was like, I don’t know, I downloaded it once and couldn’t get rid of it.”
Gabe Newell is a founder of Valve Corporation, famous for the Half-Life, Portal, and Left 4 Dead franchises, and of course, digital distribution platform Steam, as well as an intergalactically recognised pillowcase superstar. Of the 1,226 billionaires around the globe, Newell is ranked 854th, with an estimated net worth of US$1.5 billion. It’s still not enough money to ship Half-Life 3 on time, though.
The ex-CEO of Nintendo retired in 2005 after 55 years at the company to become the 11th richest man in Japan. He’s worth US$2.5 billion, although that’s much less than the $7.8 billion he was worth in 2006 before Nintendo plunged into financial semi-crisis.
You know who loves casual gamers? This guy. The founder and CEO of mobile gaming and social networking service GREE is already worth US$3.5 billion at the age of just 35. The thing about casual games, you see, is that there’s huge heaps of cash in it.