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Ready Player One: The Booming Global Video Game Market

June 22, 2020 Melissa Ledesma

Shutterstock_537529714 gaming game play tv fun gamer gamepad guy controller video console playing player holding hobby playful enjoyment view concept - stock image

The $165 billion global video game market has been steadily climbing since 2009, but the global pandemic reinvigorated consumer drive to be player one, leading to predictions that the global video game market will hit an industry high valuation of $180 billion by 2021.  

Social distancing and stay at home orders helped video game brands experience revenue surges in Q1 2020. Even before the coronavirus helped catapult the video game market to heighten popularity, video game ad spend was forecasted to exceed $5 billion by the end of 2020.

Choose Your Player: Gaming Audiences

The gaming community is better described as a population. Since 2014, the number of gamers worldwide has steadily risen an average of 5.9% each year. In 2019, there were more than 2.47 billion gamers globally. Even before coronavirus, experts estimated the number of gamers could grow to 2.7 billion by 2021. China and the U.S. are at the top of the gaming market leaders board, with $36.5 and $35.1 respectively in annual game revenues.

Gamers represent an incredibly diverse group of individuals, both in geographic and demographic differentiators. 

Consumers From Nearly All Age Segments Play Video Games

Representing 40% of the market, Millennial audiences make up the largest segment of gamers, with Gen Z and Baby Boomers representing 21% market shares each. In general, Baby Boomers prefer to play computer games, while their younger counterparts enjoy playing via mobile devices or gaming consoles. Although most Millennials consider themselves casual or novice players, among players ages 18-35, 12.2% are considering careers as professional gamers. According to Statista data, 60% of gamer parents also play video games with their children at least once per week. 

Men Are Not The Only People Playing Video Games

Shutterstock_634787303 good relationship cute little girl with young mother using joystick playing video game sitting together in living room wooden floor enjoying family holiday.

There is a misconception that the vast majority of gamers are male. However, the gender divide among gamers is almost evenly split with 54% male players and 46% female players. The Japanese gaming market represented the largest segment of female players, with two out of three gamers identifying as female. Note, however, that men spend more time per week playing video games compared to women, with an average of 7.9 hours compared to 6.3 hours. 

Gamers Come From Diverse Backgrounds

According to the Nielsen 360 Gaming Report, in 2019, 67% of U.S. gamers were caucasion/white, 13% were Hispanic and 12% were black. Although Hispanic players do not represent the majority of all gamers, they represent an audience with higher than average weekly play time (12 hours compared to 9 hours for other groups), according to the “Big Picture” report by HispanicGamers.com. Hispanics are also more likely to play video games with others (with 35% teaming up compared to non-Hispanics at 21%) and most likely to purchase and wear video game related apparel. Video game use is greater among younger black players compared to white players of the same age, with 83% of black gamers ages 13-17 playing at least once per week.

All Levels Of Education & Income Are Represented In The Gamer Population

Gaming is not restricted to any income level. 25% of gamers earn $50K per year or less, 38% earn $51K to $75K per year, and 37% earn more than $76K per year. According to the “Gaming Profiles” reported by Finances Online, 52% of gamers have at least a bachelor’s degree or higher. 

COVID-19 Helped The Gaming Industry Level Up

As consumers around the world sought desperate escape and entertainment, video games experienced impressive jumps in demand. COVID-19 supported a spike in media consumption, including 36% of consumers worldwide increasing the amount of time they spent playing video games online and via mobile devices. As a result of societal shifts resulting from COVID-19, the gaming industry boasted increased sales in three key revenue areas in March: digital games, physical games and game consoles. Sales of game consoles saw the most dramatic increase at 155%

Gaming quickly grew as an in-home entertainment option that allowed consumers to enjoy creative and captivating distraction from real world woes while feeling connected to others without physical contact. In April, 37% of adult respondents ages 18 to 29 in the U.S. confirmed they expected to increase their video game spending as a result of the global pandemic. Video game spending in April broke records, exceeding $10.5 billion globally. Following an impressive March performance, April earnings for mobile, PC and consoles were up 14%, 12% and 42% respectively from the year prior. Based on April earnings, Peacekeeper Elite was the top mobile game, League of Legends was the top PC game and Nintendo’s Animal Crossing was the top console game.  

Video Game Advertising Presents An Opportunity For Brands

Marketers have an opportunity to approach video game advertising as an innovative strategy to connect with their target consumers. Many brands have embraced video game related advertising because of its general low cost of entry in addition to its massive and diverse audience population. Compared to traditional broadcast advertising, video games provide access to large audiences with less competition for brands. In-game video brand advertising on console games give brands opportunities to increase their exposure to new audiences and establish deeper connections with target markets by aligning with the entertainment that speaks to the audience’s interests. 

Similarly, brands who advertise within mobile games can communicate with users as players engage in game play and ads alike. Most in-game advertising is designed to fit the gaming experience similar to native ads. Therefore, in-game advertising via mobile games allows consumers to choose to engage with brands and empowers brands to present the most relevant campaigns to their target audiences. As the video game industry continues to expand with sales in PC, console and mobile games, marketers have opportunities to increase their brand affinity and engagement. As the video game market grows, it is likely more targeted and sophisticated monetization options will grow with it. 

Are You Looking For New Ways To Engage With Your Target Audience?

Digital Media Solutions® (DMS) helps brands flourish by capitalizing on consumer intent and engagement, deploying sophisticated martech with big data intelligence to connect brands with consumers at the moments they’re most ready to take action, using messages proven to resonate.

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About the Author

Melissa Ledesma

An innovative problem solver by nature, Melissa Ledesma is both experienced and passionate about the digital marketing industry. She has held a number of high-level positions within the real estate, mortgage, entertainment and digital advertising industries, including Director of PR and Business Development at NJ Lenders Corp. and Director of Communications & Government Affairs at Eastern Bergen County Board of Realtors. As Director of Content & Communications at Digital Media Solutions (DMS), Melissa demonstrates a strategic, creative and tactical approach when handling the thought leadership programs and marketing and communications efforts for DMS and its family of brands. She manages all conferences, sponsorships and event execution and plays a pivotal role in the creation of written, digital and video content for all campaigns. Melissa has consistently positioned the team at DMS as experts in performance marketing across multiple industries.

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