Number of Gamers Worldwide 2022/2023: Demographics, Statistics, and Predictions - Financesonline.com (2022)

How many active video gamers were there in 2020?

There were 2.69 billion video game players worldwide in 2020. The figure will rise to 3.07 billion in 2023 based on a 5.6% year-on-year growth forecast. The global games market had $159.3 billion in revenues for 2020, almost half of which came from the Asia Pacific market.

Source: Newzoo (2020)

Gamers are not the minority as TV and film paint them out to be. Newzoo reports there were 2.69 billion gamers in the world by the end of 2020. Growth has been steady with an average of 5.6% year-on-year (YoY) increase. 2021 figures are forecast to reach 2.81 billion gamers that will earn the global games market an estimated $189.3 billion.

Games revenues for 2020 reached over $159.3 billion with almost half of market earnings generated by the Asia Pacific region. Growth in APAC was driven by demand from its 1.5 billion gamers.

The rise of subscription gaming services and cloud gaming has opened income opportunities beyond the sales of game titles and gear. Independent game developers can develop and launch their games without the need for a game publishing company. Gamers, on the other hand, can earn from tournaments and streams from their social media channels.

This article explores the number of video gamers, the biggest gaming markets, and other aspects of the gaming industry, including the impact of COVID-19, by digging deep into the categories below:

Number of Gamers Worldwide Table of Contents

  1. Gamers’ Geographical Breakdown
  2. Top 10 Countries By Gaming Revenue
  3. The Biggest Gaming Markets
  4. Gaming Devices and Platforms
  5. Gamers’ User Profile
  1. Gamers’ Age Range and Gender Split
  2. Types of Gamers
  3. Time Spent Playing Video Games
  4. Payment Method of Choice for Gaming-Related Purchases
  5. Gaming Monetization and Revenue

As almost the entire world was brought to a standstill because of COVID-19, almost half of the world’s population had become more engaged in games. As businesses everywhere stopped their operations and economies were suffering recession-like losses, the gaming industry continued with its busy streak.

Industry observers expect that as more people become engaged in gaming, more revenues, particularly those for the long-term, will likely be generated. However, it will likely be difficult to replicate the level of growth achieved during the pandemic, as it would take another similar global crisis to achieve it.

Nonetheless, gaming vendors will definitely search high and low to keep their clients engaged in their game offerings, which is among the major challenges for industry players once the health outbreak is through.

Gamers’ Geographical Breakdown

Two of every 5 people across the world is a gamer. Leading the global market in the number of gamers and revenue is China, followed closely by the United States.

China, despite being a late starter in the gaming space and an initially small market, zoomed into the top of the gaming world. The Chinese government actually enforced a 14-year ban on game console imports and sales amidst fears of the youth developing gaming addictions (Culture Trip, 2019). However, the Chinese PC games market, not included in the ban, flourished.

PC-based gameplay soon gave way to microtransactions, and then social network games like the once overly popular Farmville, and eventually, mobile games in the vein of League of Legends.

Since 2015, a year after the game console ban was lifted, China has earned more gaming revenue than the US, with the figures reaching a record high in 2016 and then slowing down in 2018, when another government measure saw new games licenses being frozen due to renewed fears of gaming addiction among the youth.

Nonetheless, in 2020, the total number of gamers in China continued to increase to remain as the top gaming market worldwide, reaching 655 million (Statista, 2020).

Source: CGIGC (2020)

Top 10 Countries By Gaming Revenue

The Asia Pacific region is well represented in the list with China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea placing in 2020’s top five gaming markets. Combined revenues for the three countries surpass the revenues of the remaining countries put together.

Source: Newzoo (2020)

The Biggest Gaming Markets

As earlier mentioned, China has 665 million gamers in 2020, the biggest number of gamers in the APAC region and the world (Statista, 2020). This translated to $40.85 billion in revenue for 2020. Although the 2018 license freeze slowed down the YoY growth rate, the Chinese gaming market was still able to post a modest from $36.5 billion in 2019 (Newzoo, 2020).

The US trails China with over 244 million gamers (NPD Group, 2020). The figures vary depending on the source and demographics counted but it is estimated that 3 out of 4 Americans play video games on various consoles with more than half playing on mobile phones.

Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Germany complete the top 5 biggest gaming markets. The relatively mature Japanese gaming market continues to grow, reaching almost $19 billion in revenue for 2020. At far fourth and fifth places are the Republic of Korea and Germany, with $6.56 billion and almost $6 billion, respectively.

China and the US are head to head in Newzoo’s Global Games report for 2020, with each country’s gaming markets worth $40.85 billion and $37 billion, respectively.

Source: IBISWorld (2020)

The fastest-growing mobile gaming market is the Southeast Asian region, which saw significant expansion due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam are leading the way with $4.3 billion in revenues for the mobile segment alone for the 2019-2020 period (Newzoo, 2020).

Source: Newzoo (2020)

Europe has the third largest revenue at $32.9 billion for 2020, powered by the vibrant gaming markets of Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Spain. Latin America is in fourth place, with $6.8 billion, while the MENA region is the fifth and smallest region in terms of revenue with $6.2 billion.

Gaming Devices and Platforms

The games market can be broadly divided into five segments: browser PC games, console games, downloaded/boxed PC games, smartphone games, and tablet games. Smartphone games have the biggest slice of the pie with a 40% market share, followed by console games with 28% (Newzoo, 2020).

Total spending in the US on video game hardware, software, and accessories, including game cards, reached $1.2 billion in mid-2020, as a result of the widespread lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic (NPD Group, 2021). This was historically the highest since Nintendo’s Wii was launched in 2009.

Source: NPD Group (2020)

Market Share per Gaming Platform

Mobile gaming makes up almost half (49%) of the total market with a combined smartphone and tablet gaming revenue of $86.3 billion for 2020. All segments have achieved positive growth except browser PC games which dropped -8.7% YoY.

Source: Newzoo (2020)

Source: Newzoo (2020)

Number of Gaming Consoles Sold

The PlayStation was the most popular console in 2020. With a massive 57.5% market share, Sony’s premier gaming console remains the gaming console to contend with (StatCounter, 2021). Nintendo’s Switch came in second, capturing 42% of the global console market.

Overall gaming console sales reached $92.2 billion in 2020, growing by 17.43% versus the previous year. Analysts attribute this significant upsurge as a direct impact of the ubiquitous lockdowns caused by the pandemic. And although the overall revenue is expected to decrease by 2021, a gradual growth until 2025 is still expected.

Source: StatCounter (2021)

What’s more, the PlayStation 2, despite being launched some 2 decades ago, remains the most popular gaming console until today, with almost 158 million units sold worldwide (StatCounter, 2021).

Sources: Statista, VGChartz (2020)

In addition, cloud gaming, the new gaming ecosystem launched in 2019, achieved substantial growth in 2020, generating $584.7 million in total revenues, or a huge 244% YoY increase (Newzoo, 2020). This is why analysts predict that cloud gaming will likely reach $4.8 billion in 2023.

Gamers’ User Profile

The real-world gamer demographic is more complex than the stereotypical gamer persona of a 30-something man-child living in his mother’s basement. In fact, video gaming had ceased to be merely a hobby.

A 2020 study found that as video games become a typical element of a typical American’s life, the average gamer’s age also goes up. The evidence: while 38% of gamers still belong to the 18-34 age group, 6% are from the 65 years old and above demographic (ESA, 2020).

Likewise, the study found that the average age range of an American gamer is 35-44 years, while 70% of those below 18 years and 64% of US adults play video games on a regular basis. Also, most gamers play video games because they help them relax (79%) and offer mental stimulation (80%).Moreover, 61% of American gamers play using their smartphones, and around 75% of US households have at least one gamer in their fold.

Source: ESA (2020)

Gamers’ Age Range and Gender Split

Gamers range in age from children under 18 to post-Boomers 70 and up. 68% of American adults (163.3 million) are gamers, while 70% of American kids aged 18 and below (or 51.1 million) are gamers, too (ESA, 2020).

As most people stayed in their homes out of necessity during the pandemic, many Americans turned to video games to pass the time. A survey found that 37% of respondents said that they will likely spend more on video games because of the pandemic (MorningConsult, 2020).

Source: Morning Consult (2020)

Three out of four American households have a gamer and 64% of American households own a gaming device. Over 70% of parents believe playing video games are educational. Nearly 60% of parents play video games with their children at least once a week.

The Gender Divide Gets Blurred

The gender split has a slight skew in favor of male gamers at a 59% to 41% ratio in the US(ESA, 2020). The average gamer age is 34 years for men and 36 years for women. Likewise, there are likely more females among older American gamers (Visual Capitalist, 2020).

Source: Visual Capitalist/Washington Post (2020)

When it comes to game genres, 71% of American gamers prefer casual games, 53% like action games, and 48% love shooter games (ESA, 2020). Younger male gamers tend to play on a console, while younger female gamers prefer playing on their smartphones. And for both genders, those aged 64 and below prefer playing with friends, while those aged 65 and above love to play games by themselves.

Likewise, age groups usually agree on why they play video games, e.g., 25-54 gamers say games help them relax, those aged 55-64 think that games offer mental stimulation, and so on. Using ESA’s age groups of gamers, here are the key age and demographic differences of today’s American gamers (ESA, 2020):

Age Group

Male

Female

18-3475% play on a console
51% most often play action games
68% prefer playing with friends
70% say games help them stay connected with family and friends
77% play on a smartphone
46% most often play casual games
48% prefer playing with friends
55% say games help them stay connected with family and friends
35-5470% play on a console
38% most often play action games
44% prefer playing with friends
83% say games help them relax
78% play on a smartphone
67% most often play casual games
58% prefer playing with friends
77% say games help them relax
55-6456% play on a smartphone
48% most often play casual games
42% prefer playing with friends
87% say games provide mental stimulation
63% play on a smartphone
74% most often play casual games
37% prefer playing with friends
82% say games provide mental stimulation
65+68% play on a PC
58% most often play card games
77% prefer playing alone
46% have been playing games for 10 years or less
60% play on a PC
76% most often play card games
81% prefer playing alone
63% have been playing games for 10 years or less

Types of Gamers

Industry expert Newzoo recently launched its Gamer Segmentation, which identifies the nine personas that capture all types of gamers in the world today. This

  • The Ultimate Gamer (14%) – Loves gaming very much and spends money and free time on games.
  • The All-Around Enthusiast (10%) – Interested in all types of games, from watching to playing.
  • The Conventional Player (3%) – Has plenty of gaming devices and loves playing, but doesn’t love to watch others play.
  • The Subscriber (21%) – Prefers high-quality games, especially free ones; will only spend on games if needed.
  • The Lapsed Gamer (15%) – Unlike before, now prioritizes other things than gaming.
  • The Backseat Viewer (6%) – Used to play a lot before, now finds fulfillment in watching others play.
  • The Popcorn Gamer (14%) – Gaming isn’t really a favorite pastime, but really loves watching others play.
  • The Hardware Enthusiast (9%) – Always updated about and with the latest in gaming gadgets, consoles, etc.
  • The Time Flier (23%) – Plays games during free time; prefers mobile games.

Time Spent Playing Video Games

Dropping in an hour to 5 hours a day, gamers worldwide spent an average of 6.33 hours a week playing video games in 2020, a considerable 11% drop from 2019’s 7.11 hours (Limelight, 2020). Male video gamers clocked in 6.84 hours each week compared to 5.8 hours for female gamers.

According to Statista’s 2020 Global Consumer Survey, here are the times that gamers spend on playing games:

Source: Statista Global Consumer Survey (2020)

Average Gaming Time Per Region

For two straight years, Germany has the highest weekly average game time of almost 7 hours of gameplay a week, which is a 13% decline versus 2019 (Limelight, 2020). Just like last year, South Korea has the lowest with 5.04 hours. At a close second is the United Kingdom with 6.89 hours a week, while at third place is the United States with 6.76 hours/week.

Source: Limelight (2020)

Average Gaming Time Per Age and Gender

Just like last year, 26- to 35-year-olds play the longest in 2020, at 7.5 hours per week(Limelight, 2020). The youngest age group, 18-25, is in a close second, spending 7.48 hours every week. 60+ old gamers only spend 4.70 hours a week playing.

Source: Limelight (2020)

The average longest gaming duration is 4 hours 36 minutes, a 7% rise versus the previous year (Limelight, 2020). The country with the longest average consecutive gaming hours is Japan with 5.33 hours of gameplay, while the shortest is the Republic of Korea with 3.36 hours. Age-wise, the segments with the longest and shortest gameplay are the 18- to 25-year-olds with 6.56 hours and the 60-plus with 2.58 hours.

Gender-wise, the male gamer as expected plays longer than his counterpart. For 2020, men play 5.17 hours straight on average, while women play 4.02 hours. However, when playing consecutively for 10-15 hours, women play longer by 2.03%, and for playing over 15 hours straight, female gamers play more by 4.2% (Limelight, 2020).

Source: Limelight (2020)

Payment Method of Choice for Gaming-Related Purchases

The video game industry makes money not only from game titles and hardware sales. For 2020, digital games revenue reached its highest worldwide total ever, at $12 billion. Analysts attribute this in part as an effect of the pandemic, which compelled most people to stay at home and play video games.

Microtransactions for upgrades such as downloadable content are worth over $6 billion annually. Exchanges are facilitated through credit and debit card transactions. Credit cards are the preferred payment method but security and usability concerns make gamers wary.

E-wallets are gaining support: 26% choose PayPal as the preferred payment method for in-game purchases. Other payment methods include WeChat Pay, Google Pay, and Apple Pay.

Source: SuperData Research, PayPal

Gaming Monetization and Revenue

There are over 2,400 video game companies worldwide, providing employment for hundreds of thousands and generating revenues of over $160 billion in 2020. Video game monetization has extended to other avenues such as Esports and streaming gameplay on YouTube and Twitch.

Source: A&E (2020)

Source: Mediakix (2019)

Overall worldwide eSports market revenue in 2020 is $950.3 million, with a total global audience size of 495 million in 2020. Esports has been recognized as a potential sporting activity by the International Olympic Committee in 2017. It made its historic debut as a medal sport in the 30th South East Asian Games. Though not part of the Olympic games, exposure will steer discussions on Esports’ validity as a competitive sport. This fast-growing gaming segment is expected to reach around $1.6 billion by 2020 (Statista, 2020).

Source: Newzoo (2020)

References:

  1. 2020 essential facts about the video game industry. (2020). Entertainment Software Association.
  2. 2021 game market & gaming industry. (2021). The NPD Group.
  3. Ali, A. (2020, November 9). The state of the multi-billion dollar console gaming market. Visual Capitalist.
  4. Console operating system market share worldwide. (2021, February). StatCounter Global Stats.
  5. Fernandes, G. (2019, November 12). Games market trends and publishers to watch in Southeast Asia: The world’s fastest-growing mobile games market. Newzoo.
  6. Fernandes, G. (2020, September 30). Half a billion dollars in 2020: The cloud gaming market evolves as consumer engagement & spending soar. Newzoo.
  7. Gough, C. (2020, July 28). Topic: ESports market. Statista.
  8. More people are gaming in the U.S. (2020, July 20). The NPD Group.
  9. National tracking poll. (2020, April 5). Morning Consult.
  10. Newzoo’s key numbers | Games, Esports, mobile. (2018, March 29). Newzoo.
  11. The state of online gaming – 2020 whitepaper. (2020, March 10). Limelight Networks.
  12. Tanchan, R. (2019, May 8). A history of video gaming in China. Culture Trip.
  13. Thomala, L. L. (2020, December 18). Total number of game users in China from 2008 to 2020. Statista.

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Number of Gamers Worldwide 2022/2023: Demographics, Statistics, and Predictions - Financesonline.com (1)

By Nestor Gilbert

Nestor Gilbert is a senior B2B and SaaS analyst and a core contributor at FinancesOnline for over 5 years. With his experience in software development and extensive knowledge of SaaS management, he writes mostly about emerging B2B technologies and their impact on the current business landscape. However, he also provides in-depth reviews on a wide range of software solutions to help businesses find suitable options for them. Through his work, he aims to help companies develop a more tech-forward approach to their operations and overcome their SaaS-related challenges.

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