- Gaming usage and viewership of gaming video content (GVC) increased in 2020.
- But we expect some of this growth will taper off in 2021.
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As physical sporting events were put on hold and brick-and-mortar stores closed their doors, digital entertainment alternatives ranging from Fortnite to Animal Crossing provided consumers the ability to hone electronic communication skills and expand virtual cities and islands.
It comes as no surprise that gaming usage and viewership of gaming video content (GVC) spiked in 2020, as consumers spent more time at home and the video game industry provided a means to stay entertained and connected with friends.
But will this trend continue into 2021? Insider intelligence predicts that some of the gaming market growth will taper off in the coming year.
US Gaming Device Demographics & Trends
Gamers turned to their Nintendo, Playstation, and Xbox devices as time spent at home increased in 2020—monthly digital console gamers saw a larger increase than any other gaming device, growing by 6.3% from 2019.
Despite the rise in popularity of gaming consoles in 2020, the return to in-person work, school, and other events will cause this bump to plateau. Additionally, the way gamers play now has expanded far beyond the traditional “hard-core” narrative, of gamers who dedicate 20+ hours a week to their digital console.
Still, mobile phones are the most popular gaming device by a huge margin; there will be more than 150 million monthly mobile gamers in the US this year, amounting to over 89% of all digital gamers. The convenience of mobile gives it a leg up on all other gaming technologies simply because gamers can play on their device anywhere at any time—a quality that laptops and game consoles lack.
Other gaming platforms that serve as a happy medium between convenient mobile gaming technology and more advanced console systems are laptop and PC devices. There will be over 98 million monthly desktop/laptop gamers in the US in 2021. While this is a slight decrease from 2020, it still amounts to more than half of all digital gamers.
However, it’s important to note that Insider Intelligence foresees the number of desktop/laptop gamers decreasing once the pandemic subsides, as casual gamers will likely opt to play on mobile devices and more serious gamers will continue to spend time with console devices.
US Gaming Trends and Stats
The narrative of gamers being young, tech-savvy males has shifted to a more diversified audience. As stated above, mobile gaming jumped in popularity in 2020—and because mobile and cloud gaming platforms have built-in social components and offer a wide variety of gaming options, they attract a more diverse audience.
For example, in the first six weeks after it was released in March, more than 13 million copies of Nintendo Switch’s “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” were sold in Japan, Europe, and the US.
However, consumers who play first-person combat-style games on devices like an Xbox or PC still skew young and male. YouGov completed a survey in 2020 to identify “hard-core” gamers—those who dedicate more than 20 hours a week to console play. Seventy-seven percent of respondents over the age of 18 identified as male compared with 23% who identified as female, and 65% of the hardcore gamers were ages 18 to 45.
Overall, there will be 177.7 million monthly gamers in the US this year—this means that more than half of the US population will identify as a digital gamer by the end of 2021. And with the rise of gamers comes an increase in viewers.
Gaming Video Content (GVC): Game Streaming Viewership Trends
Hunger for social interaction in 2020 increased the demand for game streaming, where consumers could communicate with gaming influencers and other GVC viewers.