Video gaming is enjoyed by people of all ages across the world. It’s a multi-billion dollar entertainment industry, worth more than the movie and music industries combined. This blog gives an insight into the latest video game industry statistics, trends and demographics, and explores the impact of COVID-19 on gaming behavior.
How popular is gaming as a leisure activity? According to Statistica, the video gaming industry is huge and shows no signs of slowing down. While there were almost two billion video gamers across the world in 2015, this figure is expected to rise to over 3.3 billion gamers by 2024.
Asia-Pacific is at the heart of the global gaming industry; some 48% of the world’s gamers are in that region, with China, Japan and South Korea the leading markets. Latin America is currently the fastest growing area in the world. (Newzoo 2020).
A 2020 survey by Statistica estimates there are 175 million video gamers in the US and this number is expected to rise to 182.6 million by 2024. The Entertainment Software Association reports that 65% of American adults play video games on at least one platform e.g. laptop computer, smartphone, video game console etc.
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the number of gamers to an all-time high, with non-gamers picking up video game controllers as a social lifeline, and pre-existing gamers spending even more time and money on gaming activities.
According to Nielsen Games Video Game Tracking, the number of people playing video games due to the COVID-19 pandemic increased between March 23 – June 3 2020 by 46% in the US, 41% in France, 28% in the UK and 23% in Germany.
A Statistica report into the global revenue of selected entertainment sectors found that video gaming is the most lucrative entertainment industry worldwide. It was worth $145.7 billion in 2019 which far surpassed the $42.5 billion in movie box office takings and $20.2 billion for music.
Mobile gaming is the most rapidly-increasing platform for gaming worldwide. In 2020, smartphone games accounted for almost 50% of global gaming revenue. As smartphone usage continues to rise across the world, mobile games revenue is predicted to surpass $100 billion by 2023. (Statistica, 2021).
China ranked first among the biggest gaming markets worldwide, with a revenue of $40.85 billion. While the video gaming market in the US ranked second, at $36.92 billion in annual revenues (Statistica, 2021).
Here are five trends in the video game industry that look set to last beyond 2021.
When live sporting events were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people turned to esports (competitive video gaming, usually for a cash prize). Players compete against each other online or at spectator events in large stadiums and arenas. It has become a billion-dollar industry with significant year-on-year growth. According to Statistica, global esports revenue is valued at $1.08 billion in 2021 and this is forecast to grow to 1.62 billion in 2024.
In 2020, an increasing number of video games became more inclusive of different cultures and lifestyles, and this trend is likely to continue. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, developed by Insomniac Games, features an Afro-Latino teenager and Hades, developed by Supergiant Games, has a cast of ethnically diverse Greek gods. Plus, video games such as The Last of Us Part II and Tell Me Why have LGBTQ+ representation.
According to Empirical Software Engineering, around 15% of all video games on Steam are “early access” and this trend is set to continue throughout 2021 and beyond. Early access means gamers can try out games ahead of their official launch and game developers can use player feedback to alter and enhance the game. Rimworld became one of Steam’s highest-rated games largely thanks to an early access strategy.
Cloud gaming is a convenient solution for gamers frustrated at waiting hours for a new video game to download or struggling with storage issues on their PC or console. It bypasses these issues by streaming the game in real time. Streaming services, like PS Now, give Sony a recurring revenue stream and gaming companies a way to monetize old games.
Along with the rise of cloud gaming is gaming subscriptions. This service gives players unlimited access to hundreds of video games for a monthly fee. Apple Arcade and Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass are major players in the gaming subscription market. Now that these global organizations are involved, subscription services are likely to go from strength to strength.
Gamers are stereotypically thought of as young and male. While it’s true that many young people are now playing video games, the changing reality of the face of gaming is that women now make up almost half of gamers worldwide, and older people are joining in as well. The diversity of games types and the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to this growing and changing demographics of video game players.
The Pew Research Center conducted a 2018 survey of American youth between the ages of 13 – 17 and determined that almost all US teenagers play video games regularly (Anderson & Jiang, 2018). They found that 83% of female and 97% of male youth reported playing video games on some platform – console, smartphone or laptop.
Although young people are gaming more than ever before, they are by not the only ones. Millennials (18 – 34), Gen Xers (35 – 54) and older adults are playing, too. In 2019, Entertainment Software Association surveyed over 4000 households in the US and reported the following about US gamers:
According to survey data compiled by Statistica (2021):
Gaming is an increasingly popular source of entertainment for older adults. AARP, a US-based non-profit seniors’ interest group, conducted an online survey in 2019 of roughly 1600 American adults aged 50+ who play video games at least once per month.
These older gamers reported playing for fun, stress reduction, and to stay mentally sharp and challenged. 73% of these older gamers used mobile devices, as opposed to computers, and most preferred puzzles over shooter or action games. Of those survey respondents, 55% said gaming had a positive impact on their well-being, 40% said it had no impact, while 5% reported a negative impact.
This survey, while not representative of the general population of older adults, offers a snapshot into some trends in older gamers worthy of attention.
Women now represent almost half of the gamers worldwide:
Although women represent almost half of worldwide gamers, some of their motivations, games choices and experiences in the gaming world are significantly different than that of male gamers and they are underrepresented in research studies and in professional leagues. Furthermore, a 2020 study of the top 14 global gaming companies found that men held 84% of executive positions in the gaming industry and only 24% of those working across the industry are women.
As the number of people playing video games worldwide continues to rise, so does the prevalence of problematic gaming. It is estimated that 3% of the world’s 3.4 billion gamers suffer from gaming disorder. To treat the growing number of people seeking professional support, clinicians and mental health practitioners need access to specialist training to advance their skills and knowledge.
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