Global Gaming Market Overview
The global gaming industry keeps growing year after year, generating bigger revenues, engaging more and more people, adapting to technological changes, and attracting more actors to the ecosystem. According to Statista, the video games market’s revenue is projected to reach is projected to reach $385 billion in 2023, with a year-on-year growth of 7.9% until 2027.
This impressive figures are partly due to the high engagement rate that video games have nowadays, enabling brands to reach a huge audience from every generation via gaming. A remarkable 79% of the online population engages with games in one way or another. This engagement, while sizable across all generations, is particularly apparent for Gen Alpha (born 2010 or later) and Gen Z (born 1995-2009). All types of game-related engagement tend to increase with each younger generation (Newzoo). 42% of Gen Alpha engages with games across all dimensions, including playing, viewing, and other forms such as socialization, podcasts, in-person events. This level and breadth of engagement among youngsters signals that gaming is becoming more than just a pastime. (Newzoo)
The more the gaming market grows, the more ways there are for the different players in the ecosystem to boost their revenues from it. Microtransactions, subscriptions, advertising, eSport, licensing. Even free-to-play games are now generating massive revenues. Fortnite, for example, generated $5.8 billion revenue in 2021 for Epic Games as a free game (Businessofapps). In fact, mobile games are one of the most important revenue sources for the market, as stated by Newzoo’s reports that point out that there will be a spend of $200 billion on in-game purchases by 2023.
E-sports and streaming accentuate this growth by increasing the popularity of these games. The eSports gaming industry will ascend to $2.2 billion by 2023 (Markets and Markets). As an example of the importance of it, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is organizing the Olympic eSport Series in Singapore in June, a series of competitions on virtual sports simulations such as Just Dance or Zwift. The most popular games are missing from the list, but maybe we will be able to see them during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, as the Minister for Sport, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, has already expressed an interest in hosting the event in France.
Video game streaming is cooling down since 2021, when it was particularly high due to the lockdowns. However, in Q1 2023, the number of hours watched across the leading platforms was still over 46% compared to the same period in 2020, and more than doubled Q1 2019 (Stream hatchet). Streaming has even become a viable career path for many gamers. Popular streamers can earn money through sponsorships, advertising, and donations from their fans. This has led to more engagement with games and increased player retention.
In-game ads have also skyrocketed, especially in the form of product placements or sponsored content. In-game advertising is gradually becoming part of gamers’ daily life, as it is the better way to reach elusive users, mainly the younger generations, who use less traditional media. Research highlights that gamers are largely receptive to seeing ads within their games, with 57% saying they are satisfied with the current balance of branded content in games or want to see even more (7stars).
Free games and mobile games have become very popular these days, and even if the sales of these games don’t generate enormous revenues, advertising, additional paid content, and ‘pay to play’ compensate it.
Additional paid content and ‘pay to play’ are two monetization methods that generate revenue directly from the player. These payments tend to be small sums, often ranging from $0.99 to $5. The way this generates significant revenue is tied to the ability of a user to make the same transaction repeatedly. In the case of ‘pay to play’ models, where users pay to get more playtime or in-game advantages, this can be done any number of times while playing the game. This gives players a feeling of being rewarded for their purchase and encourages them to continue to do so.
Alternative payment methods, such as Direct Carrier Billing and Mobile Wallets, make purchases easier than ever. In fact, the largest segment of the carrier billing market is, and will still be in the coming years, digital games. This vertical will grow to $40.8 billion in 2027, up from $32.1 billion in 2023 (Juniper Research).
Top Gaming Trends
The growth of the global video game industry is the consequence of fast technological advances and a post-pandemic context, where gaming has solidified as more than a pastime.
The trend that is evolving the most is mobile gaming. It has become increasingly popular in recent years, and this is expected to continue in 2023. With the rise of 5G technology, mobile games will become even more accessible and offer more immersive gameplay experiences. Mobile gaming is also becoming more mainstream, with more and more people of all ages and backgrounds playing games on their phones.
This leads to an increasingly popular trend, cross-play games. A cross-play game is a game that can be played on several different platforms. In other words, they allow you to play online multiplayer games with your friends and family, regardless of which console or PC each person uses. These games are available on several platforms, and allow all players to play together, in some cases even mobile players are able to join online games with PC or console players.
Augmented and virtual reality technologies are becoming more advanced and accessible. This will lead to more immersive gaming experiences that will transport players to new worlds and provide them with more realistic gameplay experiences. As technology continues to improve, we can expect to see more games using augmented and virtual reality. The AR and VR video game market will hit $11 billion by 2026, with a 18.5% CAGR from 2021 to 2026. (Industry ARC).
Cloud gaming has also become a trend to watch, as it allows video games to be played on different devices without graphics processing being a problem. The computing power is deported to remotely hosted servers that run the games and then transmit the image to the players. To take advantage of such a service, all you need is access to an Internet connection and a screen on which to play: a computer, a connected television set, a smartphone, or a tablet, for example. According to Statista, in 2025, the global cloud gaming market is projected to reach $8.17 billion in revenue, up from a $2.38 billion in 2022.
A brand new gaming trend, still on its first steps, is blockchain gaming. This is a new concept called “play to earn”. The purpose is very simple: play and earn money, more precisely, crypto-currencies and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). Data from a DappRadar report shows that crypto gaming now accounts for almost half (49%) of on-chain activity.
Gaming will definitely keep its steady growth during 2023 and we will see it evolving together with technology. If you want to know more about the gaming ecosystem and the monetization and distribution possibilities, contact our team of experts here.