Charting the growth of the global gaming marketplace

By Jared Wynne

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May 21, 2020

Reading time: 3 min

The days when gaming was meant for a collective of “geeks” are long gone. Today, gaming is a global industry that includes people from all walks of life. As Newzoo CEO Peter Warman, says, “Now more than ever, gaming is at the heart of the global entertainment business.”

But just how big is the global gaming industry today, how does it compare to other mainstream entertainment sectors, and what is the future for this rapidly growing business? Let’s take a look at some of the remarkable headline numbers behind the growth of gaming.

How big is the gaming industry?

Figures for the gaming industry vary depending on which analysts you ask, but they are all in the same ballpark. The Newzoo Global Games Market report says that gaming was worth $152.1bn in 2019, while Gamesindustry.biz puts the figure slightly lower at $148.8bn. Newzoo puts the year on year growth of the industry at 9.6%, while Gamesindustry.biz quotes a slightly lower growth of 7.2%. Either way, gaming is a huge economic phenomenon, with more than 2.5bn people playing games around the globe. This represents around a third of the world’s total population.

How is the gaming industry split?

Just under half of gaming revenues, around $68bn, come from mobile gaming. Consoles take around a third at $48bn, and PC gaming accounts for the remainder with $35bn. The densely populated Asia Pacific region is the world’s largest market, taking up almost half (47%) of all revenue. Yet North America, a far less populous area, still takes an impressive 26% at $39bn. This is more than Europe, the Middle East, and Africa combined ($34.7bn).

How does gaming compare to other entertainment sectors?

In 2018, gaming passed an important milestone in the US entertainment industry when it matched the revenue of Hollywood films. It has also outpaced other forms of computer-based entertainment, such as online gambling. Although the gambling industry is also growing rapidly, video gaming was valued at almost three times that of the casino and sports gaming sectors, where websites like the online casino Unibet, were estimated to be worth around $53bn in 2019.

What is the future for gaming?

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It is estimated that spending on games and gaming will continue to grow at around 9% year on year, with experts forecasting a global value of $196bn by 2022. To put this into context, Statista estimates that it will take until 2024 for the online gambling industry to reach just $94bn, which is a full $100bn less than the games industry.

Of course, these are just estimates, and with the gaming industry evolving all the time, the growth could be substantially greater than is currently being predicted.

Cloud-based gaming, Netflix-style player subscription services, and the growth of “event gaming” such as the Fortnite World Championship that sent streaming service Twitch into overdrive will all increase access to gaming for an ever wider audience. This is sure to have a positive impact on the value of the industry.

One thing is certain: With a global value higher than the GDP of Hungary and other prominent nations, gaming is no longer just a niche market. In just a few short years, it has become a massive part of the global entertainment sector. And with growth predicted at around 10% per year, it’s only going to become bigger. 

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