Player Numbers Will Soar Past 3 Billion Towards 2024

Powered by just under 3.0 billion gamers, the global games market will generate $175.8 billion via consumer spending in 2021, representing a slight -1.1% year-on-year decline.

This decline is caused by the PC and console market, which we forecast to decrease -2.8% year on year to $35.9 billion (PC) in 2021 and -8.9% to $49.2 billion (console), as the after-effects of COVID-19 will shape the market this year.

We forecast the mobile gaming market will generate $90.7 billion in consumer spending in 2021, growing +4.4% year on year. This is more than half of the global games market, as the segment is less affected by the effects of COVID-19 than PC and console gaming. We outlined these details and the factors driving growth in 2021 in our recent article.

The games market’s long-term trajectory remains undeniably positive, but the market simply cannot sustain 2020’s impressive growth for another year. The market’s slight decline this year is temporary, the number of gamers is growing, and how they engage with the pastime is becoming more complex.

The metaverse trend is also accelerating at an unprecedented rate, and VR is once again blooming after a few quiet years. To that end, this year’s report features a special focus on both topics as well as our usual industry-leading market estimates, trends, rankings, and data.  

Continue reading for a selection of key high-level findings from the full report. If you’re already interested in diving deeper into our insights and data, download the free version of the report here.

The Consumers Driving the $176 Billion Games Market

We recently published an article about our games market estimates for 2021 and beyond, which you can read here. To summarize the article and reiterate an important point: the games market will swiftly recover from its slight -1.1% decline this year.

The market will grow with a healthy CAGR (2019 to 2024) of +8.7% to reach $218.7 billion in 2024, surpassing the $200-billion threshold in 2023. But who are the almost-three-billion players driving this vigorous market?

How many people play games? mobile PC console

As you can see, the Asia-Pacific region by far accounts for the most players worldwide (55% of the global number), which makes sense as the region is home to roughly the same share (54%) of the world’s online population.

Asia-Pacific’s high share of players is in no small part due to the massive population numbers in China, but the region also contains growth regions such as India and Southeast Asia. Revenues paint a different picture, however.

Europe and North America heavily overindex for player spending, together accounting for over 40% of games revenues. But remarkably, the two markets house less than a quarter of 2021’s gamers worldwide (14% in Europe and 7% in North America).

Owing to the maturity of markets in these Western regions, growing revenues within them is a key challenge for publishers. This revenue saturation is why many established game companies in Europe and North America are increasingly paying attention to markets in the Middle East & Africa and Latin America.

These two regions are the world’s fastest-growing in terms of number of players. As is the case every year, the main drivers for player growth in Latin America & the Middle East & Africa are:

  • Growth in their online population.
  • Improving internet infrastructure.
  • And smartphone and mobile internet data plans becoming more affordable.

For similar reasons, Western developers are eyeing some of the highest-potential markets in Asia-Pacific too, including China, India, and growth markets in Southeast Asia.

Looking for market-level data for these areas and more? Learn more about the full report here.

More than 90% of 2021’s Gamers Play via Mobile

Due to Asia-Pacific’s appetite for mobile games, as well as the segment’s accessibility and ubiquity in all markets, 2.8 billion of the world’s 3.0 billion gamers this year will play on a mobile device. This is compared to 1.4 billion on PC and 0.9 billion on console.

There is understandably plenty of crossover here, as more consumers than ever before play across multiple segments. This is in part driven by the ongoing trend of platform agnosticism (blurring lines between platforms), which is in turn driven by crossplay.

We cover these topics and more in detail in the full report subscription.

More Player Growth Is Imminent

Player growth rates from 2020 to 2021 are already impressive (+5.4%), and many of the new gamers to enter the market during the pandemic will continue spending and engaging with the pastime. Nevertheless, even more players will enter the market:

Newzoo_Global_Player_Forecast_June2021 Is the number of gamers increasing?

The image above charts the player base’s impressive nine-year growth trajectory from 2015, when the player number sat at just over 2.0 billion, until 2024’s player number of over 3.3 billion.

But the ways many players are engaging with games has changed, accelerating one of the most talked-about and potentially disruptive trends in the market.

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