In the past years, the gaming industry showed resilience to global economic shocks, with revenues and users surging while other sectors suffered major hits. However, for the first time in its history, the gaming market is witnessing a user drop.
According to data presented by Safe Betting Sites, around 2.46 billion people will play video games this year via console, computer or mobile device, down from 2.61 billion a year ago. However, the number of users is expected to recover in 2023 growing by 3.6% YoY to 2.55 billion.
Gaming Industry Lost 150M Users in 2022
According to a Statista survey, the gaming industry lost around 150 million users this year due to a variety of headwinds and challenges, including inflation, the end of Covid-19 lockdowns and regulatory issues in China. The world’s largest gaming market is facing an eight-month freeze on approving new titles, stricter government censorship of game content, and tighter rules restricting playing times for minors, all affecting the user base and revenues.
Although 2023 is expected to bring recovery, with the total number of gamers increasing by 90 million, the global user base will remain below 2021 levels.
Mobile games, the market’s largest and highest-grossing segment, are expected to witness a 9% YoY drop in 2022, with the number of users falling from 1.79 billion to 1.63 billion. Statista predicts the number of people playing mobile games to recover to 1.66 billion next year, 110 million less than in 2021.
Download games will reach 1.17 billion users this year, 4% less than a year ago. In 2023, the figure is forecast to recover to 1.22 billion. Statistics show that online games, the third-largest segment of the gaming industry, will hit 1.1 billion users in 2023, just like in 2021, following a 2% user drop this year.
Although some price-sensitive players may spend less during challenging economic times, engagement will remain high. Statistics show these gamers will help the global games market to generate $233bn in revenue in 2023 or 12% more than this year.
China to Lose 145 million Gamers, South Korean Market Continues Surging
The latest push by the Chinese regulators has caused the country’s gaming sector to witness a massive user drop. For years, China has accounted for the largest share of the global gaming user base. According to Statista, the country had 780 million gamers in 2021, 30% of the total, but the number dropped to 676 million this year. Statistics show the negative trend will continue in 2023, with the number of users falling to 636 million, or 150 million less than in 2021.
The number of gamers in the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom will also remain below 2021 levels. According to Statista, the US gaming industry will reach 161.9 million people in 2023, up from 156.5 million this year. Japan and UK follow with 75.2 million and 44.4 million users, respectively.
As one of the world’s largest gaming nations, South Korea is the only one among the top five markets defying the negative trend in the gaming industry. Statistics show the number of gamers in the country is set to reach 410.4 million in 2022, up from 345.2 million a year ago. In 2023, this figure will jump to over 447 million.