A world at play:

What the video game industry looks like right now

The video game industry has come a long way since the release of Pong and consumer-ready home gaming consoles in the early 1970s.

With modern-day games and gaming platforms offering photorealistic graphics, reality simulation, and the ability to connect with millions of other players online, playing video games has become more than just a childhood hobby for many — it has evolved into a lifestyle for people of all ages. 

Today, a whopping 65% of Americans play video games, and the highest concentration of gamers are between 18 to 34 years old. In 2022, the market size in the United States was estimated at $97.67 billion, breaking industry records.

The global market for video games is similarly massive. The industry was estimated at $217.06 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow by more than 13% every year through 2030. Factors like greater network bandwidth and the popularity of mobile video games on smartphones are driving the growth.

From video game industry statistics, demographics, and platform market share to industry-wide gaming trends, Liquid Web’s State of the Video Game Industry Report will help paint a picture of where the video game sector stands and where it’s headed. 

Let’s take a closer look at video game statistics on topics like:

What constitutes a gamer?

Just as mobile gaming demographics are diverse, the entire gaming industry is seeing shifts in what constitutes a modern-day gamer. Contrary to the stereotype that gaming is male-dominated, women accounted for almost half of all gamers in the U.S. 

Plus, as millennials have gotten older, the average gamer's age has also increased to 32.

Here’s how video gaming industry statistics show the demographics breaking down by age as of 2023:

  • Under 18 years: 26%
  • 18 to 34 years: 35%
  • 35 to 44 years: 14%
  • 45 to 54 years: 11%
  • 55 and older: 14%

Gaming platforms: How gamers choose to play

With more gaming platforms to choose from than ever before, the way gamers play has expanded past traditional video game consoles and gaming PCs. Below, we will break down current video game statistics around: 

Console and PC video game statistics

In 2023, game consoles saw significant growth, a relief after supply chain issues and delays in releasing new titles slowed growth in the wake of the pandemic. Video game industry statistics show revenues were up 7.4% in 2023, outperforming PCs and mobile games. 

Microsoft’s new Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation 5 consoles experienced significant growth in 2023, helped by the release of popular game titles

Total revenues for the “big three” console video game developers in 2023 were staggering:

  • Sony PlayStation: $26.791 billion.
  • Microsoft Xbox: $15.43 billion.
  • Nintendo: $12.042 billion.

While mobile gaming has made inroads, analysts expect strong console sales to continue. Sony estimated it would sell 25 million PS5 consoles in 2023, a record among its PlayStation devices. Microsoft and Nintendo also reported significant increases in revenue related to sales of consoles, services, and content.  

It’s interesting to note how sales across current generation consoles will shift over time, considering Microsoft’s recent acquisitions of massively successful game developers like Bethesda and Activision Blizzard. Time will tell if Microsoft going all in on its innovative Xbox/PC Game Pass subscription and exclusive titles will pay off to lure loyal PlayStation fans over to Xbox.

As of 2022, two out of three gamers played on a PC or console, and 72% of PC and/or console players used at least two platforms. 

In terms of game development, PC remains the most popular platform for developers. In a 2024 Game Developers Conference (GDC) State of the Industry Report, 66% of developers reported that PC is their platform of choice. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X take up the second and third spots at 35% and 34%, respectively, as the top platforms they’re developing new projects for. 

Mobile video game statistics

Portable gaming is attractive because it provides convenient access to compelling entertainment experiences. The video game industry is pushing toward a world where you can access games anywhere and anytime.

Mobile gaming has become the largest sector in the gaming industry, yielding the most opportunities for marketers. A 2022 survey showed mobile phones were the most used devices for gaming in the U.S. and worldwide, while VR headsets were the least popular.

For example, social gaming platform Zynga — a leading developer of the world's most popular social games — reported 40 million daily active users (DAU) via mobile phones as of the first quarter of 2022 This is up from 37 million in the previous quarter. 

Worth $115.81 billion in 2023, current gaming stats show the global mobile gaming market is projected to record a value of $165.88 billion in 2027, rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.4%.

Mobile gamer demographics are also highly diverse, as mobile games are easily accessible from smartphones while on the go.

To get a sense of who actually plays mobile games, here are a few attention-grabbing statistics to think about:

  • As of October 2022, 51% of mobile gamers played on iPhones, and 40% played on Android devices (Statista)
  • In 2022, mobile game downloads reached almost 90 billion, which is 6 billion more than in 2021. (data.ai)
  • The U.S. was the largest mobile gaming market worldwide in 2022, followed by Japan. (Statista)
  • As of 2023, there are 3.38 billion mobile game players, a number that is growing by over 6% every year (Newzoo)
  • More than half of those who regularly play games on a smartphone are women. (Statista)

Cloud video game statistics

Much like the mobile gaming market, the cloud gaming market is also on the rise. Valued at $1.02 billion in 2022, it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 45.5% through 2030.

This rise in popularity is due to factors like expanding Internet access, more game accessibility in the cloud, digital-only variants, and the rise of high-speed network infrastructures such as 5G. 

Additionally, cloud gaming allows players to access games via remote servers rather than installing memory-intensive games on a console or PC — making it an even more popular choice than other platforms. 

The rising trend of social media games also plays a role in the growth of cloud gaming, as many social networking organizations are acquiring cloud gaming providers to offer more gaming options on their platforms. 

For example, in December 2019, Facebook, Inc. (now Meta) acquired PlayGiga — a Madrid-based cloud gaming startup. 

Cloud gaming is making inroads in the entertainment sector as well, as Netflix started offering cloud gaming in 2023. It will be interesting to see if other large entertainment companies follow suit. 

The current key market players in the cloud gaming sector include:

  • Microsoft.
  • Ubitus.
  • Vortex.
  • Google.
  • Amazon.
  • Intel.
  • Tencent.
  • Sony.
  • Blacknut.
  • Playkey.
  • Loudplay.
  • Apple.
  • Electronic Arts.
  • Hatch Entertainment.
  • Jump Gaming.

How the pandemic shaped gaming

Compared to many other economic sectors, the video game industry remained resilient throughout the pandemic in 2020. Sales of video game-related software, hardware, and accessories increased because of lockdown orders, as many people turned to video games to pass the time. 

Although video game industry statistics show sales were at an all-time high, there were still some negative impacts of COVID-19. For example, hardware production issues caused by the pandemic also played a role in shaping the video game industry in 2020. 

The Nintendo Switch — one of the pandemic’s most sought-after gaming consoles due to the widespread popularity of “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” — suffered from major supply chain issues as a result of both lockdown orders and quarantines. 

For the most part, big-budget games experienced delays in their development cycles. Even behemoth franchises like Halo and Battlefield saw continuous pushbacks in the release dates of their latest entries. 

But while bigger studios were more adversely affected by the pandemic for games already in development, the impact of COVID-19 offered an opportunity for smaller studios that could leverage their agility and flexibility to thrive — leading to the greater diversity in the game options we see today.

The world of indie game development

Indie developers were able to escape the adverse effects of supply chain issues caused by the pandemic due to increased agility and flexibility over bigger studios. Today, hobby developers and indie studios are still driving growth in new indie game releases — and their numbers seem to be growing. From 2018 to 2023, indie game publishers made up about 99% of the releases on gaming platforms.

The outlook for indie developers would appear bright. But as the world continues to adapt to post-pandemic life, indie developers no longer have an edge over the mammoth developers that have also learned to adapt. The opportunity for these smaller development teams remains high, but challenges remain as steep as ever.

Are indie games profitable?

Competing against larger studios on all platforms is a true David-and-Goliath struggle, even though the barriers to entry for indie developers continue to break down. While indie games make up the overwhelming majority of offerings on Steam, they only account for about 40% of sales. In addition, over half of indie games never make more than $4,000 in revenue.

However, the top 1% make more than $7 million in lifetime sales. But there are plenty of examples of indie developers that have done quite well. Here’s a look at some of the top-selling games of all time, some of which many might not realize started out as indie games:

Judging whether a game is profitable is extremely difficult since there’s a lot of data developers don’t share publicly, and video gaming stats may not tell the whole story.

Over the last decade, many large and small developers have turned to alternative ways of earning revenue on their titles. The most common is what’s known as a “free-to-play” — sometimes also referred to as “freemium” — a model where downloading and playing a game comes at no upfront cost to the user. However, the developer will design in-game content that users can choose to purchase but ideally doesn’t affect their gameplay if they don’t want to pay. In 2021, 15.4% of titles on Steam were free

Some other ways indie developers can monetize their games include:

  • Subscriptions.
  • Merchandise.
  • In-game advertising.
  • Promotional partnerships.

Most profitable indie game genres

The kind of game aspects a developer wants to make can take many forms, such as the story, gameplay mechanics, art style, and more. In some cases, it makes sense to home in on a specific genre.  

While it’s not uncommon for games to cross multiple genres, here’s a breakdown of several genres and their median revenue in 2020 on Steam:

Some of the more notable takeaways are that casual games are oversaturated and have less earning potential. Another factor this data doesn’t show is the breakdown between the challenges of creating a game for single and multiplayer experiences. 

For the most part, multiplayer experiences can offer huge potential for creating games since massively multiplayer online (MMO) games and role-playing games (RPGs) present the most opportunity for profitability. However, many indie developers may shy away from creating multiplayer games due to the complexity of maintaining a consistent and enjoyable experience for players.

What does the modern game developer look like?

Delving into video game industry statistics can give us a good picture of the people creating the games we love.

The 2024 State of the Game Industry Survey finds that game developers are still overwhelmingly male, making up almost 70% of the respondents. Just under a quarter were women, with 5% identifying as non-binary. Twenty-one percent said they were members of the LGBTQ+ community.

In terms of race, 65% said they were Caucasian, while only 9% of respondents reported being Hispanic, and 12% indicated they were Asian.

As of 2023, some of the most in-demand jobs in gaming include metaverse strategist, user interface (UI) engineer, and developer. Developers today have expertise in multiple programming languages and techniques, as well as expertise in navigation, physics simulation, and logic. As the games industry increasingly uses cryptocurrencies, many are also knowledgeable about blockchain engineering. 

One thing you can count on in the game industry is change. As we move further into 2024, these are a few major trends we can expect to see. 

  • Esports — multiplayer video games played competitively for an audience — is a major growth area. One firm estimated the value of the 2023 market at over $2.1 billion.
  • Developers will continue to take advantage of generative AI, using it to personalize experiences and develop dynamic narratives that adapt to players’ decisions.
  • Advancements in Internet speed and bandwidth will support the increased growth and adoption of cloud gaming and gaming as a service. This could attract gamers and new audiences who don’t want to purchase gaming hardware and individual titles. This will also feed an explosion in subscription services, with revenue estimated to reach $11 billion by 2025

The future of the video game industry

With the development of advanced video game technologies, faster and more powerful connectivity, and more options for different gaming preferences, the video game industry remains more robust and diverse than ever. 

The near future looks to be a period of steady growth, satisfying those who are settled in their game routines and those who crave something new and different.

If you’re an agile developer looking to create the next online title that captivates imaginations and creates unique experiences gamers will love, Liquid Web is here to help. With our fully managed online game hosting options — including cloud dedicated and dedicated servers — you can easily control every gameplay aspect.

Reach out to our team today to discover which hosting option is right for your online gaming needs.