2020 was a record year for the video game industry: on mobile devices, computers and consoles. The industry proved its resilience throughout the pandemic, and it doesn’t appear cooling off now, in the new normal. Market and player analysis.
According to the annual report published by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), in the United States, 55% of gamers played more during the pandemic and 90% of them stated that they will continue to play even when social distancing is no longer required.
Mobile video games: lightning-fast growth
Mobile video game audiences and downloads peaked at the start of the pandemic. Use stabilised during 2020. The latest report from Sensor Tower indicates a 20% increase in downloads from the two main app stores (Google and Apple).
“Video games have brought comfort and connection to millions during this challenging time,” Mat Piscatella, an industry analyst for NPD, said recently. According to the ESA’s 2021 report, gamers agree that video games bring joy, mental stimulation (87%) and a tool to fight stress (87%). They’ve even become a family affair: 74% of parents play video games with their children at least once a week. That’s 19% more than in 2020.
What are the most popular games?
In-app games are currently the fastest growing segment with about 60 billion downloads in 2020.
Three types of games stand out in particular:
- hyper-casual: lightweight, instantly playable with a short session, like Stair Run.
- casual: accessible to a wide mass audience and hobbyists, like Angry Birds.
- mid-core: more complex, take time to play, like Clash of Clans.
Consoles and PCs are in great shape
Given that many kinds of social entertainment (going out, sport) were restricted, HD games (on console) took over. The number of daily active users (DAU) increased by 38.27% on average. Over the months, the consumption of video games on mobile devices and tablets naturally moved to more comfortable media: home consoles and computers (PC, Mac).
Gamers used to play at the weekend; they’ve moved their habit to week days. The shift is estimated at 52%, which seems to be holding now that western economies are opening up again.
More time spent on video games
“People aren’t reading or watching movies. They’re gaming”, stated the headline from the New York Times last May. British researchers analysed gamer behavior during the pandemic and established a link between the lockdown and time spent on video games. In addition to being able to complete more games, the participants in the university study reported that they could try longer games and games with more complex story lines.
10.5% of participants played several times a day before the pandemic. Nearly 40% did during the lockdowns, as shown in this chart.
Young people and seniors: everyone is playing
38% of the British adult population plays video games on their mobile phone every day. Nearly a quarter play on a console or a computer. 54% of people ages 35 to 44 play online on a mobile device every day: that’s more than the younger generations.
“Advertisers, ignore geriatric gamers and it’s game over”, said an amused James Chandler last June during Gaming Week. According to IAB UK’s Marketing Officer, times have changed: gaming is not only attracting GenZers but OAGs – old-age gamers – a cohort of players that is highly active (and, therefore, highly valuable to advertisers). In fact, 24% of those aged 65 and over play every day, all media included.