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Examining the State of Online Gaming in 2018

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  • The online gaming sphere is constantly evolving and affected by changing customer demands, legal mandates, and changes in technology. And this year was a remarkable year for the gaming industry for a wide variety of reasons. Let’s examine the state of online gaming in 2018. We’ll share the hard facts that we have for the past year and discuss the trends that will shape gaming for the foreseeable future.

    Online Gaming Is Massive and it is Global

    The video game market was worth around 80 billion dollars coming into 2018. It is predicted to be worth more than ninety billion dollars by 2020. The top markets for online gaming are China, Japan, the United States, the UK, and Germany.

    In general, casual single player games are the most popular games. Casual gamers are a major market; more than a fifth of gamers play for less than an hour a week, though about 7% of gamers play more than twenty hours a week. Younger gamers devote more time gaming than older gamers, while older gamers are more likely to play on a PC than a dedicated console. Casual gaming is growing, and for those players, mobile phones are the main device they use. However, gaming consoles are popular for young dedicated gamers.

    Gaming Takes Up a Lot of Time for Everyone, Everywhere

    People who play video games do so for an average of six hours a week. There is significant variation in this between countries; British gamers play online more than seven hours a week while South Koreans play for just over four hours a week. How much time people play also varies based on age. Younger gamers, those who are 18 to 25, play more than seven hours a week and play on average more than an hour at a time. Men spend an average of 6.7 hours a week gaming while women average about 5.2 hours. A third of men play more than seven hours a week while just over a fifth of women do. Eight percent of men play more than twenty hours a week, while around five percent of women spend that much time playing video games.

    Gaming is also occurring anywhere and everywhere. Around a quarter of gamers report playing at work. About one percent admits to having missed work because they were gaming.

    People divide their time between various devices. The use of gaming consoles is greatest in the UK, roughly 1.7 hours played on consoles, equal to how much time Brits spend playing on computers. In South Korea, they play less than an hour on a traditional console but spend almost three hours on their mobile phones. In the U.S., gamers play almost two hours on their mobile phones and 1.5 hours on gaming consoles.

    Globally, people play almost twice as much on mobile phones as tablets, as much time on their personal computers as their phones. People spend about 1.4 hours a week playing on gaming consoles, a little less than people play on laptops and personal computers. Gaming consoles are most popular with adults 26 to 35. Mobile phones are most popular with younger consumers, while PCs are preferred by those over 46. Men use gaming consoles more than women, while women are more likely to play on their phone, especially casually.

    Note that virtual reality is going to continue to drive some hardware sales. This is happening because a quarter of game developers are developing games for virtual reality headsets.

    Most of the Revenue Is Software, Not Hardware

    Eighty percent of total gaming revenue is from software sales, not hardware sales. That is understandable given that gamers mostly play on personal computers and smartphones they already own, not new virtual reality hardware or consoles they go out and buy. Of those who are willing to pay to download a game, less than half are willing to pay to update it.

    About 85% of gamers download several free games per year. Just under half are willing to pay to download games, but 40% of gamers download a free game at least once a week.

    Globally, gamers download games at a steady rate, though more than half of gamers will not download games or pay for anything from a site that has suffered a security breach. Nearly 60% said they will not play games on a site that has experienced a security breach.

    The Growth of Online Gambling

    The British online gambling scene grew about 10 percent between 2016 and 2017 and has continued to grow coming into 2018. Immersive online casino games and novel new forms of gambling help to explain this, since gamers and gamblers value convenience and are constantly looking for new options. The rise of online casinos such as Stakers is a testament to this.

    While online gambling is rising worldwide, offline gambling is on the decline, including in the UK. The number of bingo halls and betting shops fell, and related employment fell by about 1%, though it still employs just over 100,000 people. The National Lottery’s donations fell to 1.5 billion pounds while large society lotteries fell by a fifth. Large lottery society giving fell to 255.6 million pounds.

    Gaming Is Growing to Include More than Gaming

    Gamers are now doing more than playing games themselves. Gamers spend on average nearly two hours a week watching others play online. This approaches the 2.5 hours most people spend watching traditional sports on TV. Three-quarters of younger online gamers have watched others game online, while less than a quarter of those over 45 have.

    Younger gamers spend one full hour more watching other gamers than they do watching traditional sports on TV. That bodes well for the future of eSports and professional gaming. It also explains why a third of gamers 18 to 25 stated that they would quit their jobs to become professional video gamers.


    One takeaway from these trends is that players will pay for games and hardware that are high quality. Another is that game developers must find ways to monetize free games or let people try games for free before they’ll pay for them.

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