The video game industry reached $101 billion in revenue in 2016, and is expected to grow 6.2% annually through 2020. Revolutionary changes in how gamers engage and experience games are happening. The following seven statistics provide an overview of important trends currently shaping the future of the industry, including virtual reality (VR), mobile gaming, game streaming, and the industry shift to digital content delivery.
65% of U.S. households own a gaming device
Gaming has become a mainstream form of entertainment, which partly stems from the growth of tablets since the introduction of the iPad in 2010. But, more importantly, this statistic speaks to the entertainment value of video games relative to other forms of entertainment. The majority (52%) of the most frequent gamers feel that video games provide more value for their money than other entertainment choices.
A typical new release game costs $60 -- and keep in mind the many free-to-play games available today -- which can lead to tens of hours of entertainment, if not months or years. This drives down the dollar-per-hour value of a video game to a pittance compared to spending about $10 going to the movies, which only lasts a few short hours.
The average gamer is 35 years old
Believe it or not, playing video games is very much an adult thing these days. Only 27% of gamers are 18 or younger. The majority of gamers are working age and have money to spend, which should help the industry grow. In 2016, gamers spent about 43 billion hours playing Activision Blizzard (ATVI 1.90%) games including Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and Call of Duty. Those 43 billion hours translated to $4.9 billion of in-game revenue, or 74% of the game maker's total revenue in 2016.
70% of gamers watch gaming-related content on YouTube
The gaming video content (GVC) market -- which refers to people who watch live game streaming sites such as Alphabet's (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) YouTube or Amazon.com's (NASDAQ: AMZN) Twitch.tv -- is one of the hottest trends in the gaming industry. It's estimated to reach $4.6 billion in revenue in 2017. YouTube has the largest share of game viewers with an estimated 517 million in 2016, while Twitch is a distant second with 185 million last year. This audience is very engaged with games, has a balanced male/female viewership (46% are female), and have a high average income of $58,000. Activision Blizzard is the most represented game company on Twitch's top 10 most-watched games list. With GVC viewers spending 56% more on digital games per month than non-viewers, Activision is in good position to thrive from its high Twitch representation.
56% of video game sales were digital in 2015
Digital distribution is exploding in the game industry. In 2010, digital sales made up only 29% of total game sales. Now, the three top U.S.-based game makers -- Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts (EA 0.96%), and Take-Two Interactive (TTWO 2.75%) -- are generating the majority of annual revenue from digital channels, which include full game downloads, in-game content, subscriptions, and mobile games. Digitally delivered content costs very little to produce compared to printing a bunch of game discs, and therefore generates a higher margin than physical game sales. This has fueled the rise of video game stock prices over the last few years, as game companies have enjoyed expanding margins and profits as a result.
62% of console players also play on a mobile device or tablet
The mobile gaming market is the largest and fastest-growing revenue category in the $101 billion video game industry. Mobile revenue made up 39% of the industry in 2016, and by 2020, Newzoo predicts mobile to make up 50% of the industry's total forecast revenue of $128.5 billion. No company is better positioned to capitalize on this growth than Activision Blizzard, which acquired the maker of Candy Crush for $5.9 billion in 2016.
67% of gamers 13 or older play video games to be social
Through the 1990s, gaming was mainly a single-player-focused experience. There was no high-speed internet allowing consoles to facilitate online multiplayer gaming. Today, gaming is very much contiguous with social media. Top-selling games from Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, and Take-Two all thrive on their online, multiplayer game modes. Gamers expect it. It's not a coincidence that some of the most-watched games on Twitch have also been some of the top-selling games over the last year. These include Playerunknown's Battlegrounds on PC, Blizzard's Overwatch (which received over 100 game of the year awards in 2016 and has a player base over 30 million), and Take-Two's Grand Theft Auto V (the highest-rated game on console that has sold over 80 million copies).
40% of frequent gamers say they're likely to buy a virtual reality system within the next year
Virtual reality (VR) got off to a slow start in 2016, but seems destined for a bright future. SuperData Research estimates the VR market to reach $28 billion by 2020, and Sony (NYSE: SNE) is well-positioned to benefit with Playstation VR. According to Nielsen, Sony Playstation VR is the top choice for gamers 13 and older versus competing VR headsets, including Samsung Gear VR, Facebook's Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, and HTC Vive.