According to the latest online gaming statistics for 2022, roughly 40% of the world’s population are online gamers. In recent decades, the metaverse has shifted from traditional single/multiplayer experiences on a local level, to online multiplayer gaming across multiple countries and continents
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By studying the evolution of the online gaming industry, this allows us to analyse trends, and judge how online gaming statistics have changed over time, and predict how they might change in the future for the UK and beyond. We have even compared broadband data to reveal the best and worst places in the UK for online gaming.
According to online gaming research by Ofcom, 60% of UK adults aged 16+ stated that they played games on some form of console, desktop, or smartphone device (either online or offline). Comparatively, the figure for 3-15-year-olds was 91%.
In addition, research from UK Safer Internet Centre also discovered that:
65% of 8-17-year-olds found online gaming an important part of their lives.
70% of young people admitted that playing online games in 2021 was more enjoyable than in previous years.
Revenue for online gaming in the UK is expected to reach more than £21 billion by 2022.
Between 2022 and 2027, the annual growth rate is forecast to reach almost 7%, resulting in an expected market value of £29.4 billion by 2027.
In 2021, the UK video game market value was around £7.16 billion—up nearly 2% from 2020.
Game hardware sales in 2021 totalled £2.66 billion—a 17.4% increase from the previous year. The main cause of this was the sale of console hardware, which rose by almost a third (32.9%) from 2020, to reach a record high of £1.13 billion. This was driven largely by 2021 being the first full calendar year for Sony’s PS5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series consoles.
There was also substantial growth in Virtual Reality (VR) hardware sales, generating around £183 million in revenue—nearly 42% more than 2020 sales.
Sales of PC game hardware and console game accessories were marginally up from the previous year, by around 6% and 2.5%, respectively.
The consumer game software market was valued at £4.28 billion in 2021—a decrease of more than 6% compared to 2020, but a rise of over 11% from 2019 figures.
Digital console software continued to be the biggest area of consumer spending for online gaming software in 2021, at £1.65 billion. However, this was almost 6% less than in 2020.
Mobile gaming also constituted a significant portion of total spending at £1.46 billion—unchanged from 2020 figures. Collectively, digital software and mobile gaming accounted for 75% of consumer spending on gaming software in 2021.
Digital PC revenue was down by more than 7% in 2021 on the previous year, to £620 million. On the other hand, boxed software declined by more than 20%, to £511 million (the largest percentage decrease of all categories of spending).
Pre-owned software purchases accounted for less than 1% of software spending in 2021—down by approximately a fifth compared to 2020, at just under £34 million.
Total spending on video game culture continued to grow throughout 2021, rising to £226 million—almost 14% more than 2020.
Almost three-quarters (70%) of consumer spending for video game culture was on toys and merchandising, and accounted for just under £160 million. This is a third more than in 2020.
Streaming and video game content generated almost £50 million in 2021—a 9% rise from the previous year. Books and magazines also saw significant growth at more than 12% in 12 months, however, only contributed £11.8 million to the total spending for 2021.
Consumer spending on film, TV, and soundtracks was just under £4 million for the year—a dramatic reduction compared to 2020 sales, by more than 82%.
In total, across all age groups and types of purchase, the average spend for the total UK gaming population is more than £200 per month.
UK gamers spend more on digital full game purchases than they do on any other category of online gaming spending. With an average spend of almost £46 per month, this is marginally more than the average monthly spend on physical new full game purchases (just under £45).
The age group that spends the most is those aged between 13-15 years old. With an average spend of around £52 a month, this is almost five times more than the 55-64s (the group with the lowest average monthly spend). Those aged between 35-44 are the second highest spenders, paying an average of £43 each month.
In terms of individual categories, those aged between 35-44 spend the most per month on digital full game purchases (£11.59), whereas 13-15-year-olds pay out more on in-game spending and physical new full game purchases (£10.53 vs £12.14).
In terms of tournament prize winnings, Dota 2 was the highest-grossing online game for 2021, with more than £46.6 million in earnings. This was more than double that of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in second place, with around £20.4 million.
PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG) on mobile was the third highest-earning game in tournament play, at around £19 million, followed by Fornite at just under £18 million in 2021.
Arena of Valor and standard PUBG were the only other two remaining games to have double-digit tournament earnings for 2021, with approximately £15.6 million and £14.2 million, respectively.
Cumulatively, Dota 2 was the highest-earning game for 2022, with total winnings of more than £309 million. This was more than Fortnite and Counter Strike: Global Offensive put together, where each game accumulated around £145 million in 2022 alone—around half that of Dota 2.
Between 2022 and 2027, we estimate that Dota 2’s tournament earnings will increase to £525 million (a projected rise of almost £216 million). Fortnite’s earnings are predicted to double over the next five years, to more than £291 million, while Counter Strike: Global Offensive will see moderately large growth of around £100 million.
League of Legends, in seventh position for five-year projected earnings, had more cumulative tournament wealth in 2022 than the three games above it. However, its estimated prize winnings for the next five years are not expected to exceed £40 million.
The most common age demographic for UK online gamers is 12-15 years old, with over three-quarters (76%) stating that they play online games. From 16 years of age onwards, the relative percentage of online gamers within each age group declines, down to only 13% for those aged 65+. Over a third (35%) of those aged 45-54 were online gamers, which is roughly the same percentage as those between the ages of 5-7.
91% of children aged 3-15 play games on some type of device. Consoles are the leading gaming device amongst this age group (59%), followed by:
Smart TV (10%)
VR headset (1%).
Given that, according to children mobile phone statistics, 61% of children own a smartphone device by the age of 10, it is perhaps unsurprising that over half play online games using a mobile phone.
Some of the best game consoles for kids in 2022 include the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series S and X. However, popularity may differ depending on the gender of your child, as online gaming research by Ofcom shows that it’s generally more common amongst boys than girls. Almost three-quarters (73%) of boys use a games console for online gaming, compared to just 44% of girls.
|Device for online gaming||Boys||Girls|
|Desktop, laptops, or netbooks||34%||29%|
Over a third (34%) of boys will use either a desktop, laptop, or netbook to game online, yet the comparative figure for girls is just 29%. More than twice the number of boys play games using a VR headset compared to girls (7% vs 3%).
Research by Childwise indicated that 14% of children aged 4-15 have a Microsoft Xbox Series X or an Xbox Series S console. Boys are twice as likely than girls (18% vs 9%) to have one at home, with ownership highest amongst 11-16-year-olds (20%).
On the other hand, one in 10 children have a Playstation 5—this has doubled since 2020 when only 5% had one. Similarly, boys are more likely to own a PS5 compared to girls (12% vs 8%). By contrast, one in three console-owning households had a Nintendo Switch.
According to our 2022 screentime report, the average UK adult spends around five hours a day on a screen—an increase of two hours a day from 2020.
Furthermore, online gaming research by Ofcom discovered that, for those aged between 13-64, the average amount of time spent gaming online was seven-and-a-half hours per week (around one hour per day). Throughout 2021, there was an increase of 25% in time spent online playing games, specifically by those between 55-64.
The study also revealed that younger people were spending more time gaming online in 2021 than ever before. For parents with children aged 8-17:
85% agreed that their children were spending longer online.
58% of these children stated that online gaming changed their mood for the better.
59% claimed they feel good about themselves.
60% feel less lonely.
Conversely, only 17% of adults thought they spent too much time playing online games, which suggests people in the UK are able to manage their time online effectively.
Of all age groups in the UK, those between 13-15 spend longer online than any other, with an average of just over 11 hours per week. This is almost four-and-a-half hours more a week compared to those aged 55-64, who spend the least amount of time playing online games (six hours, 26 mins).
On average, men spend almost three hours more a week online gaming compared to their female counterparts.
One in six adults surveyed by Ofcom in 2021 reported playing video games, regardless of the device.
Smartphones are the most popular device for playing online games amongst UK adults, occupying 37% of the total, followed by game consoles at 30%. Less than a fifth of adults (19%) use a tablet for their online gaming, compared to 14% for laptops.
Despite traditionally being a console market, the UK as a whole has now shifted towards smartphones. In 2021, mobile devices accounted for half the devices used for gaming for those aged 16-34, and almost 50% of those aged 35-54. However, game consoles do remain the preferred choice for 16-34-year-olds to access online games.
According to mobile phone user statistics, women are more likely to use a smartphone to play games compared to men (41% vs 33%). However, men are more likely to use game consoles (39% vs 22%). Overall, almost two-thirds (63%) of men admitted to playing online games, compared to just over half (56%) of women.
When broken down by age, the relative proportion of online gamers decreases as people get older. Almost nine in 10 young adults aged 16-24 played games online, compared to just over a quarter (26%) of those aged 65+.
Online games are categorised as anything that can be played via an internet browser or an installed application.
There are a huge variety of video game genres, including:
Massive multiplayer online games (MMOGs).
Casual and social games.
Subscription-based games (such as World of Warcraft).
Free-to-play games that have in-built options for purchasing additional premium content or functionality (such as Fortnite).
Creative and building games, such as Roblox and Minecraft, were the most popular games amongst children in 2021, with just over half (51%) of those aged 3-15 playing this type of game. This figure jumps to 57% for those aged 8-11 but drops to 47% for the 12-15 age group.
Around a third of children played a game that was either action or adventure-based, or involved puzzles, quizzes, or a virtual world, while less than a quarter (24%) played sport-based games. The least popular options were simulation experiences (13%), followed by fitness and dance, and playing 1v1 games, which were preferred by one in five UK gamers.
With some of the biggest upcoming video games of 2022 yet to drop, we must look back to sales figures from 2021 in order to fully determine the UK’s most popular video games.
Our gaming trend report can reveal that Hogwarts Legacy, God of War Ragnarök, and Starfield are amongst the most anticipated games still to come in 2022, so it’s widely anticipated that 2022 sales data could certainly blow 2021 figures out of the water in the years to come.
FIFA 22 was the best-selling game of 2021, with more than 2.3 million copies sold across the UK. This is more than the combined sales for Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto V, which sold around 975,000 and 967,000 units, respectively.
Despite being released almost a year earlier, sales of FIFA 21 remained strong in 2021. With just over 600,000 sold last year, this made it the fourth best-selling game of the year. This was narrowly in front of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, with over 599,000 sales.
In terms of physical sales, FIFA 22 was the best-selling game of 2021, with more than 916,000 copies sold across the UK. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was in second, with just under 600,000, while Animal Crossing: New Horizons came in third position, selling around 450,000 copies in 2021.
Call of Duty: Vanguard and Minecraft were the fourth and fifth best-selling games of the year, selling almost 407,000 and 364,000 physical copies, respectively.
When broken down into digital sales, FIFA 22 sold more copies in 2021 than any other game (more than 1.4 million). This was more than double the sales for Grand Theft Auto V, and almost three times the sales figures for Call of Duty: Vanguard in third place.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War sold over 408,000 digital copies in 2021, alongside just under 375,000 for FIFA 21, making them the fourth and fifth highest-selling games of 2021 for digital sales, respectively.
In 2021, downloaded games for PC yielded much lower numbers than their counterparts for games consoles.
Football Manager 2022 was the most downloaded game for PCs, with around 138,000, followed by Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2 (both with similar figures of around 110,000).
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege in fourth generated about 82,000 downloads last year, compared to 60,000 for Football Manager 2021 in fifth.
In February 2022, Candy Crush Saga was played by an average of 1.2 million UK adults a day—more than any other gaming app on the market. This represented 5% of the online adult population, with an average daily audience of around 1.2 million—around double that of Solitaire Grand Harvest and Words with Friends in fifth and eighth place, respectively.
Pokemon Go was the second most popular, with 1.6 million visitors in February 2022, followed by Roblox with 1.5 million. Both represented about 3% of the online adult gaming population. However, Pokemon Go had a much higher average daily audience by comparison (725,000), with more than double that of Roblox—even though the latter was released four years earlier in 2012.
Despite being the most recently released game in the top 10, Royal Match comes in 10th. Almost three times fewer people playing Royal Match in February 2022 compared to Candy Crush in first place, with an average daily audience of 400,000.
However, this was not the lowest daily audience figure. That crown belongs to Google Play Games, at just 100,000 per day in February 2022. With a total audience of 1.2 million throughout the month, which helped it to climb up to sixth overall in the list.
Released in 2012, Candy Crush is most popular amongst women, with 1.7 million having visited the app in February 2022 alone. This made up over two-thirds (68%) of its total UK visitors for that month.
Since 2012, various versions of Candy Crush have been released, each with its own levels of popularity. The original Candy Crush Saga has the largest reach, with more than 2.5 million visitors in February 2022, followed by Candy Crush Soda Saga with just over 750,000. Almost 78% of these visitors were women.
In February 2022, 135,000 visited Candy Crush Friends Saga, and 123,000 visited Candy Crush Jelly Saga. The percentage of women playing these games was 82% and 85%, respectively.
In 2022, Microsoft agreed to buy Activision Blizzard, the owner of Candy Crush, for £51 billion—the largest-ever sale in the gaming industry.
In January 2022, the New York Times purchased Wordle for an undisclosed fee, believed to be in the region of £1 million. The web-based word game was launched in October 2021, and has proved to be a hit sensation on the internet.
In the UK, 8.4 million adults (roughly 17% of the UK online adult population) visited the game site in February 2022. This resulted in an average of 1.8 million daily adult visitors—about 4% of total UK adult internet users. Similar to Candy Crush, the game has a higher reach amongst women compared to men (19% of the UK online female population vs 15% of males).
We are now living in an era of live-service online gaming with frequent content updates that allow audience participation the world over.
This so-called metaverse helps bring people together in a variety of online communities, in which they can play, discuss, and interact across a multitude of virtual platforms. These include such as consoles, apps, websites, smartphones, or other internet-enabled devices.
Just over half (53%) of adult console gamers said that they play games with or against someone else. This tends to apply to younger adults, with around two-thirds (67%) of those between 16-24, and more than a third (35%) of 55-64s admitting to gaming online with other people.
Games are increasingly using a function known as cross-play—the ability to play the same game across different platforms. Also known as interoperability, this facility reduces the friction of everyone having to have the same platform and console in order to access the game and play together.
Final Fantasy XI was the first game that allowed users to game across multiple platforms including Xbox 360, PS2, and PC. More recently, Fortnite and Player’s Unknown Battleground (PUBG) also have a cross-play option.
Adult gamers are more likely to play online with someone they have met, as opposed to a stranger (44% vs 31%).
Six in 10 (60%) of UK adults from the online gaming community play with, or against, other gamers. More than seven out of every 10 children (72%) aged 3-15 who game, do so with people they have met, and three in 10 (31%) play against strangers/people they have not met in person.
The proportion of children playing games against strangers increases with age, going from 15% for 3-4-year-olds and rising to 37% for 12-15-year-olds. For UK adults, the corresponding figures are 35% for those between 16-24, and 34% for 35-44 year-olds.
Males over 16 are also more likely to game online with someone they don’t know compared to females—36% vs 26%, respectively.
80% of children aged 12-15 play games online with people they know, or have at least met—more than any other age group. After this age, the percentage drops off, down to less than half (49%) for 35-44-year-olds in the online gaming community, and less than one in 10 (9%) for those over 65. Incidentally, almost a quarter (23%) of gamers over 65 will play against people they haven’t met or don’t know.
Online gaming does provide an opportunity to socialise, albeit virtually, and connect with others, which can positively impact a person’s well-being. In fact, research by UK Safer Internet Centre found that 70% of parents think online gaming has helped their children connect with friends, and 60% of children between 8-17 said that gaming online made them feel less lonely.
Playing online games with others can help develop certain life skills, such as:
This is particularly the case for young people, in terms of developing their transferable skills, such as concentration, determination, and resilience.
A survey by UK Safer Internet Centre found that 61% of parents, and 66% of children aged 8-17, agreed that playing games online has helped to develop these skills.
43% of UK gamers aged 13+ claimed to enjoy competitive online gaming, while 43% also admitted to enjoying cooperative play.
Competitive play is particularly enjoyed by console gamers between 13-15, with almost three-quarters (73%) saying they enjoyed this method of play, compared to 66% for cooperative console gaming. This age group also enjoyed competitive and cooperative mobile gaming more than any other, with 62% and 61%, respectively, claiming they engaged with this style of play on a mobile device.
As the age groups increase, the number that enjoy both types of online gaming tends to decrease. Only 13% of UK gamers between 55-64 enjoy competitive mobile play, which is contrasted by 25% for competitive console gaming. Similarly, only 16% liked playing cooperative games on consoles, while 14% enjoyed this style of play on a mobile.
The gender split is slightly in favour of males compared to females. Over half (52%) of males said they liked playing cooperative and competitive games on both mobiles and consoles. Females tend to prefer competitive gameplay on a console (49%), with competitive mobile play and cooperative mobile play both coming out at 38% favourable.
Gaming communities use a broad range of platforms to reach out and engage with other like-minded individuals. Using social media to discover new games, share and view gaming content, and interact with other gamers is all part of the ever-growing world of online gaming.
58% of UK individuals between 13-64 watch video-game-related content online, with teenagers and young adults being the captive audience. 84% of those between 13-15 and 90% of 16-24-year-olds say they watch video content online that relates to gaming.
37% of UK gamers between 13-64 said they used video platforms to feel like part of a community, with 54% for those aged 16-24.
Almost three-quarters (74%) of UK gamers use YouTube as a source of game-related video content—more than twice as many as the next most popular, Instagram. In December 2021, YouTube revealed that 12 years’ worth of Minecraft content had been viewed one trillion times, making it the most-watched game on the platform.
Less than a third (29%) of the UK adult gaming population use TikTok to access their video content for gaming. The gaming-first platform, Twitch, is fourth on the list, with 25% of UK gamers using this for their video content.
Twitch is a live video-streaming service that also includes the broadcasting of esports competitions, as well as offering music and other creative forms of broadcasts.
In 2021, Twitch had 8.5 million channels streaming each month, with almost 1.5 trillion minutes of content viewed globally throughout the year (an increase of 31% from 2020). UK adults spent, on average, one hour 39 minutes on the platform in September 2021.
70% of Twitch’s audience is male, although its female audience spends longer on average on the platform—two hours, eight minutes vs one hour, 27 minutes.
Just under half (44%) of Twitch’s users are from the 15-24 age bracket, followed by 28% between the ages of 25-34. These two age groups alone contribute more than two million people, which is over 70% of its total audience (just under 1.5 million males aged 15-34).
For the over 65s category, there are almost five times as many females compared to males, yet collectively this age group only constitutes 2% of the total Twitch audience.
Originally built for gamers, Discord is a group-chat platform that has slowly become a general-use arena for many different communities. As of September 2021, it was visited by 11% of the online adult population, with 32% of visitors aged between 15-24 years old.
Reddit, on the other hand, is a collection of forums where users can discuss topics, share news and content, or comment on other users’ posts. Incidentally, gaming is the fourth most subscribed subreddit, with 32 million subscribers. In the UK, 14 million UK adults visited the site in September 2021, with 61% being male and 31% female.
Whether it be via messaging, a microphone, or a headset, chatting to others can be an important part of online communities. Online gaming stats reveal that 75% of those aged between 8-17 said that they used this method of communication while gaming online, 88% claimed to chat to friends or people they know outside of the game, while 44% admitted talking to people they only knew through the game.
61% of 8-17-year-olds described how playing online games helped them to spend more time with friends, and 70% of parents agreed that online gaming has helped their child to connect better with their friends.
PlayStation and Xbox now have their own apps, which can be used for the purpose of messaging and voice calls. In September 2021, 1.1 million people visited the PlayStation app on their devices compared to one million for Xbox. The overwhelming majority of those using the apps were male (80% PlayStation and 74% Xbox).
Cloud gaming is a method of playing games using remote servers in data centres, with the added benefit that the games do not need to be downloaded or installed onto a device in order to access them. All you need is an internet connection that sends the gaming information to an app or web browser installed on the user’s device.
By the end of 2021, there were 2.1 million UK gamers who had subscribed to a cloud service capable of streaming games online. When you take into account those who access free services, such as GeForce Now and Google Stadia, this number jumps to 2.9 million.
Our cloud gaming guide offers a breakdown of the different options available, their associated costs, and how to get the most from your game streaming service.
During Q1 2022, Microsoft announced that 10 million people had streamed games via Xbox Cloud Gaming globally. This generated more than $23 billion worth of revenue—a 32% increase year-on-year (YoY).
|Content streaming only||Content download only||Content download and streaming||Platform (online multiplayer)||PC in the cloud|
Source: Ampere Games via Ofcom
Almost a quarter (23%) of UK gamers aged between 13-64 game online through an online, multiplayer platform—the most popular option.
One in five UK gamers opt to only download content, compared to just 8% for streaming content. The least preferred option for online gaming is a PC in the cloud (4%).
|Rank||Service||Type of subscription||Percentage of gamers (13-64) who use this service|
|1||PlayStation Plus||Online console, multiplayer gaming||14%|
|2||Nintendo Switch Online||Online console, multiplayer gaming||10%|
|3||PlayStation Now||Content and cloud streaming||7%|
|4||Xbox Game Pass (Console)||Content||6%|
|5||Xbox Game Pass Ultimate||Content and cloud streaming||6%|
|7||EA Play for Xbox||Content||5%|
|8||Google Stadia/Stadia Pro||Cloud streaming||5%|
|9||Xbox Live Gold||Online console, multiplayer gaming||5%|
Source: Ampere Games via Ofcom
PlayStation Plus is the most popular subscription service in the UK, making up 14% of the UK online gaming audience, followed by Nintendo Switch Online at around 10%.
PlayStation Now – which has since merged with PlayStation Plus – is in third place overall and is the highest-ranked service that offers cloud streaming. This constitutes 7% of the total online gaming audience in the UK.
Amazon’s Prime Games service was the most popular subscription service in Q4 2021 that was not linked to owning a games console. In March 2022, Amazon launched ‘Amazon Luna’, a cloud-based gaming subscription service offering gaming through its channels, and the opportunity to broadcast live to Twitch.
Apple Arcade is the least preferred option in the top 10, with just 3% of gamers using this service. Although this could largely be down to an awareness issue and people not knowing what Apple Arcade is and what it can offer gamers.
|Service||Number of paid-for gaming subscriptions|
|PlayStation Plus||3.2 million|
|Xbox Game Plus (all versions)||2.6 million|
|Xbox Live Gold||1.5 million|
|Nintendo Switch Online||1.49 million|
Source: Ampere Games via Ofcom
In terms of subscription numbers, PlayStation Plus reigns supreme once again, with approximately 3.2 million subscribers, followed by Xbox Game Plus (all versions) with 2.6 million. Only around 100,000 subscribers separate Xbox Live Gold and Nintendo Switch Online in third and fourth place, respectively.
However, according to a survey by Ampere Games, just over a quarter (26%) of UK gamers aged between 13-64 said at some point in Q4 2021, they had unsubscribed from a gaming subscription service that offered a games catalogue. The cited reasons for this, included:
Friends being on other services (37%)
Not using the service (24%)
Could not afford it (23%)
Virtual reality (VR) gaming allows users to immerse themselves within a computer-generated environment using a headset. This enables gamers to interact with scenes and objects on their screens, using controllers alongside spatial and motion-tracking technologies.
43% of UK gamers aged 13-64 have played VR games using a headset, yet a 2021 study by Ofcom revealed that only 3% of UK adults had ever experienced this type of gaming experience. This suggests children are far more likely to engage with VR than their adult counterparts.
The PlayStation VR (PSVR) headset was launched in 2016 and is currently the UK market leader. More than five million units have been sold globally since its inception, with 14% of UK gamers using this particular model. The next most popular is the Meta-owned Quest headset, which is used by 10% of UK gamers.
In Q4 2021, nearly a third (32%) of VR gamers opted for the PlayStation VR headset—a 6% rise from Q4 2020. However, adoption is slow, with less than 5% of PS4 and PS5 owners having a PSVR headset as of December 2021.
Consumer adoption of VR headsets is very much still in its infancy and can be linked to a variety of reasons, including:
Lack of compelling games that require a headset
Not comfortable enough to wear for all users
Lack of competition on the market
Additional costs incurred.
With manufacturers and game developers always looking to expand the boundary of the metaverse, online gaming stats certainly suggest potential growth in VR headset gaming for 2023.
The release of Meta’s higher-end VR headset (Meta Quest 2 Pro), as well as potential headsets from both Apple and Google, will certainly go some way to increase the competition, drive down prices for the consumer, and open up new worlds to enjoy in the arena of online gaming.
Given that living costs are rising across the country, online gaming might be perceived as something people would cut back on in order to save money. But how much does it cost to play video games?
Of course, there will be an initial outlay to purchase the console/device, and then to download/buy the game you wish to play, but after that, what are the associated running costs of playing video games?
|Console||Energy use per day (Wh)||Energy use per month (kWh)||Price per month - £0.34 per kWh (£)||Energy use for 80 hour game (kWh)||Price per game - 80 hours (£)|
|Xbox One S||434.5||13.04||4.43||4.96||1.69|
|Xbox Series X||665||19.95||6.78||12.24||4.16|
|Xbox Series S||408||12.24||4.16||5.92||2.01|
|Nintendo Switch OLED||32.6||0.98||0.33||0.48||0.16|
Source: Uswitch via PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, and Ofgem
Using data from console manufacturers and Ofgem, we have calculated the energy consumption required to play and run the most popular games consoles on the market.
The Xbox Series X uses more daily energy than any other console, consuming 665Wh/day. At a standard electricity charge of £0.34 per kWh, this would cost you £6.78 per month to run.
This is followed by the PS5 and PS4 Pro, which use around 560Wh/day and just under 555Wh/day, respectively. The cost of running these consoles per month equates to £5.74 and £5.66.
By contrast, the Nintendo Switch OLED is the cheapest console to run, followed by the Nintendo Switch. The monthly running costs for both of these are both less than 50p (33p vs 42p per month), making them between 16-20 times cheaper than the most expensive—the Xbox Series X.
One of our latest studies shows that video game download speeds vary depending on where you are in the world and the type of game you’re playing.
The best broadband for gaming will offer fast download speeds and reduced latency. This is certainly the case for those in the top 10 of our study, which compares broadband data for different UK cities. From this, we can reveal that Milton Keynes and Peterborough are the two best cities in the country for online gaming.
According to the latest broadband statistics, Peterborough has the UK’s second fastest download speed at almost 170Mbps, after Stockton-on-Tees (over 183Mbps), which doesn’t even make the top 10. This is largely thanks to its relatively slow latency speed of over 23ms.
Despite only having the fifth fastest internet download speed in the country, Milton Keynes shares the top spot due to a latency speed of 12.3ms—the third fastest in the UK after Slough (11.6ms) and High Wycombe (12.1ms).
At the other end of the scale, Kingston upon Hull ranks as the worst UK city for online gaming, with an overall score of 0.12, followed by Inverness (0.2), and Dumfries (0.52).
With an average latency speed of nearly 42ms, this is the slowest in the country, almost 12ms behind Inverness in second place.
The average download speed in Kingston upon Hull sits at 78Mbps, the fourth worst in the country behind Hastings (48.8Mbps), Southport (73.2Mbps), and Shrewsbury (75.3Mbps).
The world of online gaming has come a long way from classic PC and console-based games. Casual social gaming has increasingly become more popular since the 2010s, with the rise of free-to-play (F2P) multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs).
The evolution of online gaming has certainly fueled the debate of legacy consoles vs modern gaming methods, and which offers better value and user experience.
Thanks to a high smartphone penetration rate and improved mobile connectivity around the world, the expansion of online gaming has increasingly gained momentum. As a result, traditional online games have slowly lost their appeal to their usual audiences, as consumers seek games that can be played ‘on the go’.
The possibilities for online gaming via mobiles have brought people into the market who don’t need to rely on purchasing expensive technology or subscribing to games, in order to play with other people.
Recent gaming phenomena, such as the growth of cross-platform titles with a focus on mobile, are currently pushing the genre of online gaming forward. Battle royale games are some of the most popular on the market, such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), Fortnite, and Apex Legends, which all generated tens of millions of players within months of their release. Call of Duty: Warzone boasted 100 million players as of April 2021, just 13 months after it was released.
Games consoles have certainly come a long way since the inception of the Apple Pippin in 1996—the first gaming console capable of connecting to the internet.
From just connecting to the world wide web, game consoles of the 21st century now support a multitude of functions, including multiplayer options, cloud services, and even digital-only versions.
Online gaming can provide a multitude of benefits for people’s mental health, well-being, and state of mind. Not only is it a valuable source of entertainment for millions of people up and down the country, but it can also provide stress relief and become a source of escapism.
Online gaming stats from the UK Safer Internet Centre found that over half (58%) of 8-17-year-olds reported a positive change in their mood due to playing games online. A similar number (59%) said it made them feel good about themselves, while 71% claimed it made them feel more relaxed and happy.
However, the negative side effects of unregulated online gaming are well-documented. Many young people surveyed by UK Safer Internet Centre had experienced offensive or unkind comments from other players (68%), while 67% said they had received such comments from people they did not know.
For some video game streamers, this can become a full-time job and provide a direct source of revenue through advertising, such as:
Tips and gifts from viewers or platforms.
Some concerns have been raised about how long people are spending online, and the resulting impact on their mental health and well-being. One Twitcher even reported spending over 60 hours a week broadcasting, leading to anxiety, loss of confidence, and development of agoraphobia.
The global digital media market has consistently grown throughout the years, with expected revenue projected to reach more than £321 billion by the end of 2022. The market’s largest segment is video games, with an expected market value of £177 billion in 2022—almost double that of 2016.
Globally, the average revenue per person in the online gaming world will be around £113 in 2022, with almost 40% of users from high-income households in society in 2021.
In the last six years, the value of mobile gaming has nearly tripled, to approximately £93 billion, while console gaming and PC gaming are estimated to be worth almost £48 billion and £36 billion, respectively.
Over the next 10 years, online gaming stats suggest this growth will continue. By 2032, online gaming in the UK could be worth almost £320 billion—almost three-and-a-half times its value in 2016, and £142 billion more than 2022.
According to the latest mobile phone statistics, mobile gaming is predicted to still be the biggest earner in 2032. 58% of the total industry’s value will come from people playing games on their smartphones, totalling £185 billion—double that of mobile gaming in 2022.
By 2032, console gaming is estimated to exceed £80 billion for the first time, which is just over double the corresponding value for 2020 console gaming.
The growth of PC gaming is expected to increase in the coming years, but at a much slower rate than mobile and console gaming. By 2032, approximately £46.5 billion could be spent on PC games—only £9 billion more than 2022.
|Rank||Company||Revenue in 2022|
|8||Activision Blizzard||£1.7 billion|
|9||Electronic Arts (EA)||£1.6 billion|
|10||Take-Two Interactive||£0.8 billion|
Source: Uswitch via Newzoo
As of 2022, Tencent dominates the global gaming market in terms of revenue. At £7.1 billion, this is £2.8 billion a year more than second-placed Sony, and almost double that of fourth-placed Microsoft. Apple makes up the top three, with just under £4 billion per year.
Based on total esports earnings, China leads the way with £190 million compared to the United States in second with £185 million. However, the U.S. has more than three times the number of esports players compared to China (22,358 vs 6,352), making this the second highest in our study after Sweden, which has almost 29,000 registered players.
South Korea completes the top three earning countries from online competition play, with £105 million—more than double Russia in fourth place.
In terms of earnings per esports player, this equates to £8,274 per American player, and almost £29,911 per registered Chinese player. Denmark has the second-highest rate of earnings per player (£22,788) despite only having the fifth-highest earnings overall.
Sweden, with its relatively large esports population, sits at the bottom with just £1,379 for each gamer.
|2022 value (billions (£)||2032 estimated value (billions £)||Percentage growth 2022 - 2032 (%)|
|Middle East & Africa||6.4||11.5||79.69|
As of 2022, the global gaming industry was valued at £177.2 billion. By 2032, this is projected to grow by 80%, to almost £320 billion.
Mobile gaming is predicted to almost double in value, from £93 billion in 2022, to over £185 billion in the next 10 years. Alongside this, the console gaming industry is expected to increase by 75%, to over £83 billion, while PC gaming is looking at growth of around 35%.
The global region predicted to see the biggest growth is Latin America, from £7.8 billion in 2022 to £21 billion in 2032—an increase of 169%. This is followed by the Asia-Pacific nations which, as of 2022, were the largest contributor to overall revenue (£86.1 billion). By 2032, this is forecasted to expand by 85%, to almost £160 billion.
As of 2022, there were approximately 3.2 billion online gamers across the globe—a rise of almost 1.2 billion over the previous six years.
Over the next decade, the number of global gamers is predicted to grow even more, reaching a peak of 5.7 billion in 2032 (44% more than 2022).
|2022 players (millions)||2032 estimated players (millions)||Percentage growth 2022 - 2032 (%)|
|Middle East & Africa||488||880||80.33|
Source: Uswitch via Newzoo
As of 2022, there were more online gamers in the Asia-Pacific region than any other area of the world—with one in every four (41%) gamers located here, and four times more Asian-Pacific players compared to Europeans.
By 2032, the number of global players is predicted to increase by almost 79%. The largest growth is expected in the Middle East and Africa, growing from 488 million players in 2022 to 880 million within 10 years—an increase of more than 80%.
The Asia-Pacific demographic will continue to dominate, reaching 3.1 billion online gamers (78% higher than 2022). By contrast, North America is forecasted to see the smallest growth, rising from 219 million to 301 million between 2022-32—an increase of 37%).
|Region||Number of online gamers||Percentage of total online gamers||Percentage growth (YoY)|
|Middle East & Africa||400 million||15%||0.082|
|Latin America||315 million||10%||0.048|
|North America||219 million||7%||0.026|
Over half of the world’s online gamers are located in the Asia-Pacific region, followed by 15% in the Middle East and Africa, and 13% in Europe. One in 10 can be found in Latin America, whereas North America has the smallest percentage (7%), representing almost 220 million people.
Despite Covid-19 measures being relaxed and people returning to their previously normal lives, the growth of online gaming has endured, reaching +4.6% YoY growth in 2022.
Better mobile infrastructure, improved access to mobile internet, and a growing middle-class population in developing parts of the world has largely resulted in this boom. According to the latest mobile phone statistics, over 90% of the world’s population now has access to a mobile phone device, meaning online gaming is now something the masses can engage with.
Even in the face of rising inflation and a cost of living crisis, online gaming looks like it will endure for years to come.
|Region||Revenue for 2022||Percentage of total market revenue||Percentage growth (YoY)|
|Middle East & Africa||£6.3 billion||4%||0.108|
|Latin America||£7.8 billion||4%||0.069|
|North America||£45.8 billion||26%||0.005|
In 2022, North America is expected to generate almost £46 billion (+0.5% YoY), while Europe should see a very small decline of less than 1%, to just over £30 billion. The growth of mobile phones in these regions is one of the few factors offsetting a steep overall decline in engagement numbers.
Those regions experiencing high growth in their mobile-first markets can expect a significant increase in their online gaming participation rates. Revenue for the Middle East and Africa is forecasted to expand by more than 10%, to £6.3 billion, whereas Latin America should grow by just under 7%, to £7.8 billion in 2022.
|Segment||Revenue for 2022||Percentage of total market revenue||Percentage growth (YoY)|
|Mobile gaming||£92.3 billion||53%||0.051|
|Console games||£47.2 billion||27%||-2.20%|
|Browser PC games||£2.1 billion||1%||-16.90%|
|Downloaded/boxed PC games||£34 billion||19%||0.016|
In 2022, the global games market has around 3.2 billion players, generating somewhere in the region of £197 billion in revenue. This is a rise of 2.1% from the previous year. By 2025, this is expected to reach 3.5 billion players, producing more than £225 billion.
In 2020, corresponding figures were around 2.9 billion, showing a five-year CAGR of 4.2%.
The primary driver for this growth is mobile, which will generate revenue of around £92 billion in 2022—an increase of 5% on the previous year. In total, this represents 53% of the online gaming market. PC accounts for just over a fifth (21%) and is expected to grow by 1.6% year-on-year (YoY) to be worth around £36 billion.
Meanwhile, console online gaming is expected to decline by 2.2% YoY to £47 billion—27% of the global market.
Projected global online gaming revenue statistics by region
As of 2022, the Asia-Pacific region contributed over half (54%) towards the total global revenue for online gaming. At just over £86 billion, this was almost three times the amount made by Europe (£30.7 billion), and more than 13 times that of the Middle East and Africa (£6.4 billion).
Since 2016, each region of the world has seen significant growth in its revenue from online gaming. Contributions from all parts of the world have almost doubled in the last six years; however, it is over the next 10 years that the most growth is expected to occur.
By 2032, online gaming revenue from Asia-Pacific nations is projected to rise by almost 46%, to nearly £160 million. North American contributions are expected to rise by 44%, to over £82 billion, while Europe should see over 40% more money generated from online gaming in 2032, compared to 2022.
According to our predictions, by contrast, revenue from online gaming in Latin America could rise by as much as 63% in 2032—yet at £21 billion it would still be one of the regions of the world where online gaming doesn’t generate as much income.
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