The American Gaming Ecosystem Industry: Trends and Forecasts 2021

  • The use of games and video content with games (GVC) increased in 2020.
  • But we expect part of this growth to decline in 2021.

As physical sporting events were put on hold and brick and mortar stores closed, digital entertainment alternatives ranging from Fortnite to Animal Crossing provided consumers with the opportunity to hone their electronic communication skills and expand virtual cities and islands.

American digital players from 2019 to 2023

U.S. digital players will reach over 177 million this year.

Insider Intelligence

Not surprisingly, gaming and video game content (GVC) increased in 2020, as consumers spent more time at home and the video game industry provided the means to entertain and connect with friends.

But will this trend continue until 2021? Insider Intelligence predicts that some growth in the gaming market will slow down next year.

Demographics and trends of American gaming devices

Gamers turned to their Nintendo, Playstation and Xbox devices as time spent at home increased in 2020 – monthly digital console gamers recorded a larger increase than any other gaming device, up 6.3% from 2019.

Despite the growing popularity of gaming consoles in 2020, a return to personal work, school and other events will cause this rush to a high level. In addition, the way the game is played has now expanded far beyond the traditional “hard” narrative, devoting 20+ hours per week to its digital console.

teen games on xbox controller

Players turned to devices like the Xbox as time spent at home increased.

heshphoto / Getty Images

Still, mobile phones are the most popular gaming device with a big difference; this year, there will be more than 150 million mobile players per month in the U.S., accounting for more than 89% of all digital players. The convenience of mobile devices keeps it up to date with all other gaming technologies simply because players can play on their device anywhere at any time – a quality that laptops and game consoles lack.

Other gaming platforms that serve as a happy medium between convenient mobile gaming technology and more advanced console systems are portable and computing devices. In the United States, in 2021, there will be over 98 million monthly players on a computer / laptop. Although this is a small drop compared to 2020, it still accounts for more than half of all digital players.

However, it is important to note that Insider Intelligence predicts a reduction in the number of players on the desktop / laptop after the pandemic recedes, as casual gamers are likely to opt to play on mobile devices, and more serious gamers will continue to spend time with console devices.

US Gambling Trends and Statistics

The story of the players being young, technically smart men has shifted to a more diverse audience. As mentioned above, the popularity of mobile games jumped in 2020 – and since mobile and cloud-based platforms have built-in social components and offer a wide range of games, they attract a more diverse audience.

For example, in the first six weeks after its release in March, more than 13 million copies of the Nintendo Switch “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” sold in Japan, Europe and the United States.

nintendo is shifting animals across new horizons

Mobile gaming systems like the Nintendo Switch are growing in popularity.

Joey Hadden / Business Insider

However, consumers who play first-person combat-style games on devices like the Xbox or PC still distort young people and men. YouGov completed a survey in 2020 to identify “hard” players – those who dedicate more than 20 hours a week to console play. Seventy-seven percent of respondents over the age of 18 identified themselves as male compared to 23% who identified themselves as women, and 65% of the fiercest players were between the ages of 18 and 45.

In total, there will be 177.7 million monthly players in the U.S. this year – meaning more than half of the U.S. population will identify as a digital player by the end of 2021. And as players grow, so will the number of viewers.

Gaming Video Content (GVC): Game streaming trends

The hunger for social interaction in 2020 has increased the demand for game streaming, where consumers could interact with gamblers and other GVC viewers.

American Twitch viewers

Twitch was the most dominant platform for GVC content worldwide in Q4 2020.

Insider Intelligence

GVC will gain more than 4 million viewers per month by 2023 – with a live streaming service

be a major competitor. Twitch was the most dominant platform for GVC content worldwide in Q4 2020, with 65.8% of the total hourly view, compared to 23.3% for YouTube Gaming and 10.9% for Facebook Gaming.

Esports ratings trends

Esports is a subset of GVC content and Insider Intelligence defines it as organized gaming competitions among professional players and teams. And while personal sporting events were delayed for several months due to the pandemic, esports managed to continue playing and continue with online tournaments – allowing him to gain media coverage and viewership.

In total, 2021 will be watched by more than 26 million U.S. viewers, representing more than 47% of all GVC viewers.

Video Game Industry Forecast for 2021

Revenues in the gaming market are well positioned due to the massive rise in monthly digital players – consumers spent a whopping $ 44 billion on gaming software and services last year. But this growth will not last too long, as monthly digital players are expected to increase by only 1.1% in 2021.

With more than half of the U.S. population already playing monthly, room for further growth is limited, and much of the audience captured by the game during the pandemic may lose interest after additional restrictions on social exclusion are lifted.

a boy playing video games on a computer headset

The ability to connect with others during a pandemic increased the social aspects of games.

Katja Kircher / Getty Images

One of the elements of gaming that will remain important in 2021 is its ability to provide social interaction in a virtual way. The ability to connect with others during a pandemic has heightened the social aspects of gaming on all devices, especially mobile devices.

While interest in connecting with people through video games may recede as the pandemic recedes, Insider Intelligence expects that the social element of games will continue to attract a wider audience to the ecosystem by 2021 and beyond.

Want to learn more?

The pandemic has accelerated the growth of the gaming industry, making the future of gaming both complex and important. That’s why Insider Intelligence compiled the American gaming ecosystem 2021. The report breaks the forecasts for digital players on all consoles, desktops / laptops, tablets and mobile devices, as well as the ratings of sports and other GVCs.

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