Where the Gaming Industry is Headed

Dec 20, 2021
By: Arda Guner

During the past two years with the COVID-19 pandemic, people have had more time than ever on their mobile devices at home, and with a lack of socializing, gaming became one of the most common activities in our daily lives. As the gaming world is forever evolving and warmly welcomes millions of new gamers each day, the market will reach massive scales in the coming years.

The past 18 months have been a period of immense global growth for gaming, but what does the future hold for the industry? To answer this question, Google collaborated with Newzoo to conduct extensive market and consumer research in 16 countries across four global regions.

The gaming world draws its new boundaries

2020 saw the global games market increase 23% year-over-year, the highest growth rate in more than a decade. Globally, the industry is expected to reach $219 billion in 2024, passing the coveted $200-billion threshold in 2023.

At the end of 2021, approximately three billion players will have spent a combined $175.8 billion on games. While 20% of the gaming market in 2020 consisted of new or returning players, 80% consisted of veteran players who were already playing prior to 2020!

In terms of year-over-growth rates, European countries grew by +4% YoY, LATAM countries by +6.2% YoY, and the Middle East & Africa countries with the highest rate of +10.1% YoY!

The Gaming Market in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa

Market maturity, platform preferences, and player engagement vary hugely across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. EMEA is the world’s most diverse gaming region with the potential for the highest growth in various markets and for extremely high revenue per user in others.

In 2021, EMEA’s 843 million players will spend a combined $38 billion on games. Console gaming represents the largest segment as of 2021, but mobile is the fastest growing with a +4% year-over-year growth rate.

While EMEA players are expecting their activity levels to decrease beyond 2021, playing times will still remain higher than they were pre-2020. What’s more, the durability of game spending habits means EMEA is still ripe for future revenue generation as spending per player remains among the highest in the world.

Many EMEA players are willing to spend a lot of time on games even if they don’t expect to dedicate as much time to the activity. Key points to implement in the region include offering players shorter core gameplay loops, giving them options to spend money to save time, and not overly focusing on driving up playing time or play-session length.

EMEA is represented by the diversity of its audiences in various markets, especially with regard to their platform preferences. The majority of Western Europe plays on consoles, but Eastern Europe turns to PC most frequently. Despite that, the region’s developing markets are centered around mobile gaming.

Therefore, developers who can provide a variety of gaming experiences or take advantage of the emerging trend through cross-platform are most likely to succeed.

Also, publishers should care about the way platforms affect the economics of markets: console-first markets tend to have some of the highest spends, while mobile-first markets show the highest growth and potential for in-game advertising.

LATAM shifts to mobile

Latin America is in a transition. Having moved from PC and console to mobile, players want and expect further democratization of access to games.

With the massive gaming audience increase of any region from 2015 through to 2024, Latin America is one of the world’s fastest-growing regions. It also ranks second globally for growth in consumer spending on games (2015-2024), albeit from a small base of 4% of the global games market in 2021.

In 2021, 289.3 million LATAM players will spend a combined $7.2 billion on games, of which 48% will be spent on mobile, 27% on console, and 25% on PC.

Latin America showed a huge jump in engagement over the past 18 months. However, this growth is expected to slow down across all platforms in the second half of 2021 and beyond, with a predicted increase of just 8% between 2020 and 2021. With that in mind, publishers and developers need to discover other potentials for growing audiences and revenue.

By Arda Guner
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