Oct. 9, 2021
How Many People Play Video Games in The World?
7 min read
What are the numbers for people who play video games? How many people play?
As video games grow in popularity, the more people get involved. However, the "nerdy" aspect of video games really convinces people to underestimate this form of entertainment. A lot of mainstream personas assume gaming is for a niche subset of people, but is that really true?
So, what are the numbers like for people who play video games? How many people play? What demographic of people play? When you take the entire world into account, what do video game fans really look like?
Popularity of Video Games
Let's knock out the most critical number straight out the gate: as noted in 2020, more than 200 million Americans play video games in the US alone. That means roughly 65% of American adults are video gamers.
Worldwide, though? The market is even more influential. According to Statista, Latin America has 274 million gamers, the Middle East/Africa has 388 million, and Europe has 391 million. The most astounding audience is in Asia, though, with 1.5 billion gamers. That means that, worldwide, the number of gamers in the world as of 2020 was roughly 2.77 billion.
It's estimated that by the end of 2021, that will rise to 2.8 billion (if not more). The number of gamers increases exponentially each year; in 2016, the number was only 2.5 billion. Since there are only 7.67 billion people on the planet, roughly 36% of the world are gamers. So it's only a matter of time before everyone in the world plays video games. The global video game population is also being shifted up thanks to the popularity of mobile games.
The gaming industry sees the way their product sells and is making immense profits off of it. In 2016, the value of the US market alone was $17.68 billion. With those kinds of margins, no wonder more and more business professionals are flocking to video games.
The Influence of Esports
Part of the reason that the gaming industry is so popular is the existence of esports. Yes, single-player masterpieces like the Mass Effect series, The Witcher 3, or the Dark Souls franchise make fantastic leaps and bounds for the gaming industry. But esports have a unique, consistent element to them that turns casual fans hardcore: more than playing video games, gamers in the world also love competition.
Between industry juggernauts like Fortnite, League of Legends, CS:GO, and Dota 2, their business models have revolutionized free-to-play competitive gaming. The tournaments, brand deals, in-game events, and purchasable cosmetics have turned these games from simple, fun experiences to dedicated, multi-faceted, multi-talented communities of professionals, players, and fans. Beyond that, with the popularization of mobile games, the global population that play video games has drastically shifted up.
Top Games By the Numbers
No surprise, free-to-play games are the kings of getting people to download. As far as the stats show, PUBG is the top downloaded game with 1 billion players worldwide.
Some other top contenders include:
- Crossfire- 1 billion users
- Dungeon Fighter Online- 700 million users
- Speed Drifters- 700 million users
- Minecraft- 600 million users
- Candy Crush Saga- 500 million users
- Among Us- 500 million users
- Microsoft Solitaire- 500 million users
- Fortnite- 350 million users
Now, these numbers do get a little complex sometimes. After all, some companies only publicly track open accounts, others share peak amounts of users each month, etc. The complicated part is that since so many of these games are free to play, there are a decent amount of players with multiple accounts for different reasons, so just tracking the number of accounts isn't always accurate.
For example, notable top games like League of Legends (111 million monthly), WoW (100 million), Overwatch (50 million), CS:GO (46 million), TFT (33 million), and DOTA 2 (13 million) are not in the top technically, even if they still rake in millions of players. Video gamers love those titles, and the general expectations are to have even more people playing video games in the years to come.
After all that excellent information on just how popular video games actually are, let's break down some more facts to get an accurate idea of what the average gamer looks like and what kinds of gaming keeps them coming back for more.
Age and Video Gaming
Now, age does play a role in gaming audiences, and it might not be the numbers you expect. After all, 72% of gamers are 18 or older. While many people picture it as some childish hobby, older gamers spend their free time enjoying stories and gameplay to unwind. Notably, the average gamer is 34 years old, owns a house, and has children.
More unexpected, 36 is a magic number age for gamers, too. The average video game purchaser is 36, and 46% of gamers are 36 or older. So, older generations enjoy video games just as much as younger ones. It's not all squeaky-voiced 12-year olds playing XBOX (even if it feels like it sometimes).
Video Game Preferences
Some of the most important things to think about with the popularity of video games are players' preferences worldwide. What kind of games are fans actually playing the most?
At a glance, there's a lot of argument for FPS supremacy: 27.5% of all US video games purchased in 2016 were shooters. Similarly, 35% of multiplayer gamers prefer playing FPS games.
However, looking at the same US demographics, 71% prefer casual games, 53% like action games, and 48% love to focus on shooting in their games. Thus, while still popular, casual games are clearly an underground goldmine.
But speaking of goldmines, the money-making kings of gaming might surprise you: it's free-to-play games. 78% of digital game revenue comes from them. While they don't cost $60 like many Triple-A main titles, that same lack of cost makes it easier for players to convince themselves to spend a little here or there for their favorite things. After all, if they've played 100 hours of Lux in League of Legends, why not spend $5 to get her beautiful skin cosmetic? And with 56% of the most frequent players focusing on multiplayer games, which are often free, that's a lot of money to make.
Gaming Consoles and PC
Gamers take their hardware for their gaming very seriously. There's a reason there are console wars or heated online debates about consoles vs. PC. That debate is very split, however, with 49% of gamers preferring consoles. It's a complex argument because while consoles have specific game titles and comfortable controls, PC games have customizable systems and over 30,000 games on Steam.
And as far as console wars go, the PlayStation was the most popular of 2020, but that could switch when the next generation of consoles debuts.
Regardless of if you're team console or PC, XBOX or Playstation, the internet has been a revolutionary tool for video gaming. After all, 83% of games that fans purchase are in a digital format instead of a CD.
The Mobile Gaming Revolution
For a very long time, consoles and computers were the only way anyone could game. However, as programmers and developers have perfected making data files smaller and storing more on mobile devices, mobile gaming has become a real contender in the video game world.
By the end of 2020, smartphones accounted for over 50% of the gaming market. That number is supposed to increase to 57% by the end of 2021.
Just looking at North America, there were 214 million mobile gamers in the US and Canada in 2020. 65% of those are US women ages 10-65. In general, 60% of American adults actually prefer to play games on their smartphones at this point.
Also, some developers downsized console/computer exclusive games to turn them into mobile gaming options. Look to the mobile versions of Skyrim, Sims, or LoL: Wild Rift. On its first day alone in the Americas, LoL: Wild Rift saw 6 million downloads.
Children and Video Gaming
Many media outlets like to scapegoat video games as what's wrong with children these days, but the truth behind kids and gaming is a lot more wholesome.
For example, 70% of parents surveyed have said video games positively impacted their child's life. In the US, 57% of parents say they play video games with their kids once a week, if not more. Gaming has become a bonding experience that brings the family together.
And of course, we couldn't talk about worldwide demographics without confirming that yes, even in 2021, 92% of US teen boys play games on a console. Some things just don't change, even if the rest of the video game industry is evolving daily.