The youngest publisher when it comes to the video game industry on this list, Microsoft has been able to build a pretty reputable brand of iconic characters. Sure, a lot of it is thanks to Microsoft's purchase of Rare back in 2001, taking on the characters like Banjo-Kazooie, Conker, Joanna Dark of Perfect Dark fame, the Battletoads, and many more. However, Microsoft itself has been able to construct some notable characters on its own, such as one of the biggest faces, if not THE biggest face, on the FPS scene, Halo's Master Chief. Then, there are characters like the C.O.G. forces from Gears of War, Marcus Fenix and the crew, as well as having franchises like Crackdown, Forza, and much more. Microsoft's IP may not resonate as strongly as the other publishers' line of franchises and characters, but to say the publisher has no pull with gamers is a faux pas.
If this was back in the 1990s, a golden era of gaming, then Sega would be higher on this list. However, really, the only character from the embarrassment of riches that Sega had that is still relevant and commonly used today is Sonic the Hedgehog, and his games haven't been the most enviable to have. I mean, when a social media account that posts daily memes as "humor" is what's talked about most lately considering Sonic the Hedgehog, then things aren't looking too hot. Still, it's nice to think of Sega's history of characters, but since most aren't around anymore, I don't feel that Sega should be as high on this list as other publishers. Though, I can very much see the opposite end of the argument. Regardless, today, Sega has franchises like Phantasy Star Online still going strong, Hitsune Miku that has grown into a cultural sensation in Japan, and numerous popular PC series going on to this day. While not as relevant as it once was, Sega still has franchises that are a force to be reckoned with.
|Don't mind some of these third-party characters. They just wanted to share the spotlight.|
Between Mega Man, the cast of the Street Fighter series, the cast of the Resident Evil series, Dead Rising's Frank West, Phoenix Wright, Breath of Fire's Ryu and Nina, Darkstalkers, Strider, and many more, Capcom is absolutely loaded with modern and classic characters associated with some very popular franchises. The Marvel vs. Capcom series showed that Capcom has got the goods character-wise in regard to video games that Marvel has when it comes to characters comic book and film-wise. While not all of Capcom's franchises are still as relevant as they used to be, the ones that still are remain some of the most popular and worthwhile from a third-party publisher, much more any publisher. It is for these reasons that Capcom has ended up at the number two spot on this list.
Really, who else could it be? Not only has Nintendo has several decades as a video game company to build its illustrious library of IP, but it helps when Mario is in the same league as Mickey Mouse in familiarity. Heck, Mario even made it onto the international stage this past summer, appearing in Tokyo, Japan's Olympic preview event in front of millions upon millions of people. Then, there's all of the endearing franchises and characters that continue to entertain gamers the world over, such as the aforementioned Mario, Link, Zelda and Ganondorf from The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, Pikachu from Pokemon, Kirby, Animal Crossing, Fire Emblem, and new franchises like the Splatoon that somehow resonated with millions despite being on a poor-selling system. Nintendo remains relevant in the gaming scene thanks to its collection of worthwhile characters and franchises, and it's the only company who could somehow keep a console afloat for most of its life off the back of its own franchises.