Video games were created in 1958, thus saving the world from not having video games. Since then, games have evolved a lot. Modern video games have production budgets larger than most movies, and nearly photorealistic graphics. They have stories that resonate with the players and characters that make us cry and laugh with them. They feature gameplay that can be so good it gets addicting and provide some people an avenue to earn millions.
A very popular subset of video games is online games. These games, utilizing the internet, are designed to be played with other players. They can involve purely online games, like Destiny, partially online games, like Dark Souls 3, or single-player games with online content like leaderboards, etc., like Dead Cells.
Here we will take a deep dive into the industry of Online Gaming and look at the various facts and statistics associated with them.
Back of the box blurb
Here is what would be written behind the box online gaming comes in.
- Gamers spent nearly $152.1 billion on games in 2019.
- Mobile gaming was the largest sector, earning $68.7 billion.
- USA overthrew China as the largest gaming market in 2019.
- The average gamer today is 34 years old. This is 32 years for men and 36 years for women.
- Women play more online games than men.
- 45% of all gamers (including single players) are women.
Starting off the game always involves a basic level that introduces the mechanics of the game and gives the player a brief overview of the game as a whole. Let’s start off in the same vein by looking at some basic facts about the online gaming industry.
1. Worldwide online gaming traffic reached 4500 petabytes per month in 2019: The best indicator of the rapidly growing online gaming market is the traffic that this industry generated in 2019. Usage exceeded 4500 petabytes per month and expected to rise by almost 75% till 2024.
2. 22% of PC gamers spent between 60%-80% of their time playing online: Online gaming tends to work on a model that encourages players to play for longer periods of time. This means that players either spend the majority of their time online or don’t play online too often. This metric changes to 59% of all gamers above the age of 50, implying the older generations prefer online play.
3. Asia has 63% of all online gamers: Asia holds the lion share of online gamers from both F2P and P2P games. Europe comes in on the second spot with 17.8% players, and North America is third with 12.4% of all online players.
4. Mobile Games earned 74% of all online revenue in 2018: In a surprising turn of events, mobile games seem to be dominating the online market, with nearly 2.3 billion players. That is one-third of the total population! This figure is fueled by the fact that almost every individual owns a smartphone these days and the fact that mobile games often tend to have simple gameplay loops that hardly require any time to learn and master.
5. Online mobile games are the second most used category of apps after communication apps: In a study investigating app usage, it was found that 50% of all mobile users play games on their phones. This was only surpassed by communication and social media apps and was more than the usage of music apps like Spotify, Play Music, etc.
6. 75% of American households have at least one gamer: This means that only a quarter of all American households claim to have no truck with gaming. A significant chunk of this quarter are communities that shun technology entirely, meaning the number of average households without a gamer among their ranks is around 20% at best.
(Source: Essential Facts 2019)
7. 52% of gamers hold a graduate degree: The myth of the lazy gamer turns out to be just that, a myth. 52% of all gamers surveyed held a college degree, with 28% claiming to be in college. The rest of the gamers are either under the age of 18 (21%) or are not graduates.
(Source: Entertainment Software Association)
Much like Scorpion smashing Sub-Zero’s skull to pieces (Scorpion is better don’t @ me), games often smash new records every year. Gaming, especially online gaming, is a very fickle business, and can often have unexpected breakouts and failures.
Let’s take a look into some high score setting games, both for the good and the bad.
8. GTA V and GTA V online hold seven Guinness World Records: The following world records all sit in GTA V’s trophy case, making it the first game to hold so many:
- Best-selling video game in 24 hours
- Highest revenue generated by an entertainment product in 24 hours.
- Fastest entertainment property to gross US$1 billion.
- Best-selling action-adventure video game in 24 hours.
- Highest-grossing video game in 24 hours.
- Fastest video game to gross US$1 billion.
- Most viewed trailer for an action-adventure video game.
9. PUBG also held seven world records when it launched, tying with GTA V: Players Unknown Battle Grounds is an online-only game, first released in 2017. Upon its release, it smashed seven different world records, tying with GT V for the position of the highest amount of world records held by any video game. These records were:
- Fastest time to sell 1 million units for a Steam Early Access game (16 days to sell 1 million units)
- Fastest Steam Early Access game to gross $100 million (took 79 days)
- First videogame to reach 2 million concurrent players on Steam (peaked at 2,279,084 concurrent users in Oct 2017)
- The game with the most players active with 2,617,400 as on 16 Nov 2017 (breaking Dota 2’s previous record of 1,291,328)
- Highest number of concurrent players for an Early Access game
- Most concurrent players on Steam for a non-Valve videogame
- First non-Valve videogame to be the most played game on Steam
10. Call of Duty Mobile reached 100 million downloads within its first week: Call of Duty has consistently ranked among the most popular franchises in the world. So, it came as no surprise that when it released its mobile game, it became an instant runaway success. According to the data from Apple and Google, there were 100 million downloads combined for the game within its first week. This far outpaces its contemporaries, all of which were released on PC and console as well. PUBG had 26.3 million, Apex Legends had 25 million, and Fortnite had 22.5 million downloads across all platforms within their first week.
(Source: Business Today)
11. CrossFire is the most played online game in the world, with 650 million players: CrossFire is an online first-person shooter game developed by Smilegate entertainment and distributed by Tencent Gaming. It was first released in 2007 and has become the most popular game in the world by player count since then. They reported having 650 million registered players. This is even more impressive as CrossFire is only available for Windows.
12. Most kills in an online game are 671: Quake was a first-person shooter game released in 1998 by ID Software. It featured a massive arena and countless weapons that the players could use to kill each other. One player, ‘Fatal1ty’, decided to go on an all-out massacre and ended his one-hour long spree by racking up 671 kills.
13. Highest Xbox Live Gamerscore is a whopping 2,348,684, achieved by smrnov: An Xbox player’s Gamerscore is based upon the number of achievements they’ve managed to garner in any games that they have played on their Xbox.While a player named Stallion83 was the first player to break the one million and two million milestones, the current record is held by smrnov. He is a Canadian player whose highest haul comes from the Telltale Walking Dead collection.
14. The PSN leaderboard is topped with a score of 3,082,665, achieved by Roughdawg4: Similar to the Gamerscore, the PSN score is based upon the trophies achieved in a Playstation game. Currently, as of December 2, 2019, this record is held by Roughdawg3, who farmed most of the points in Burn Zombie Burn and Marvel’s Pinball.
(Source: PSN Trophy Leaders)
15. The largest concert ever was held in Fortnite, with over 10 million attendees: Christopher Comstock, otherwise known as ‘DJ Marshmallow’, held the largest ever virtual concert on 2 February 2019. He appeared in Fortnite in his custom avatar, with his trademark helmet, and regaled the crowd for 10 minutes with his skills. Epic Games had turned all guns off during the event to ensure peace. For some perspective, the largest real-life concert was Rod Stewart’s Brazil concert in 1993, with $3.5 million attendees.
(Source: The Verge)
16. League of Legends is the most-watched game in Twitch, with above 87.45 million hours viewed in December 2019: Twitch is currently the most widely used game streaming platform, with millions of viewers each day. League of Legends was the most-watched and streamed game on this platform, with 87.45 million hours watched, across 2,347 channels. It had more than 1.70 million viewers watching at its peak.
(Source: Twitch Metrics)
17. 50% of all players look for online play in a game before buying: Gamers take a lot of factors into account when purchasing a new game. 50% of all surveyed gamers said they looked for online gameplay opportunities in the games they purchased. The other factors include graphics, price, story, or the continuation of a familiar franchise.
(Source: Essential Facts)
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While typing the title may only give you $1 million, these monetary figures attached to online gaming might make you consider the hours’ developers might have spent typing ‘hesoyam’ into their terminals.
18. Rockstar’s GTA V online has earned more than $6 billion in revenue: The combined profits for Avengers Endgame, and Avatars (the two highest-grossing movies) is $5.58 billion, and they aren’t earning any more money. Meanwhile, GTA V, which earned a record-breaking $800 million within the first 24 hours, has generated $6 billion until today and is still making Take-Two interactive money. It beat the profit expectations of analysts in 2019, not a bad feat for a game released in 2013.
19. The largest revenue per month earned by a Free to Play is $318 million by Fortnite: While Fortnite may be free to play, its in-game shop charges the players real money to purchase certain cosmetic items. As many as around 70% of all players purchase digital items to use in-game, with a skin named ‘Skull Trooper’ selling for a whopping $4950.
20. Fortnite offered a prize pool of $100 million for its 2019 season: Fortnite announced a prize pool of $100 million for its players in the various tournaments all throughout the year. The World Cup alone had a total pool of $30 million, with the winners earning a whopping $3 million for both categories, solo, and duo.
21. Fortnite also holds the record for the highest-earning game of 2018, with a $2.4 billion profit: This is the last Fortnite fact, promise. In the year 2018, Fortnite earned a jaw-dropping $2.4 billion, miles ahead of its competition. The second and third highest earned were Dungeon Fighter Online and League of Legends, with $1.5 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively.
22. Online Gaming earned $12.70 billion in 2019: With internet access becoming cheaper, faster, and more widespread, the online gaming industry has become extremely profitable. It generated more than $12.70 billion in 2019, with a projected combined annual growth rate of 2.5%. By 2023, this market will be worth upwards of $14 billion.
23. The USA spends the most on online gaming, upwards of $3.5 billion: At nearly 30%, the USA holds the highest market share for online gaming in the world. This is followed by Japan at 23%, with the rest of the world lagging quite a bit behind. The next three countries in the top five are South Korea holding 6.6%, the UK with 6.6%, and Russia accounting for 4.1%.
(Source: Market Watch)
24. Playing Online Games is a $6 million/pa job: Ninja, the biggest streamer on the planet, reportedly earns upwards of $500,000 via Twitch, YouTube, and Mixer revenue. This number may have fallen slightly due to Ninja’s exclusive signing with Microsoft’s Mixer, but it was more than sufficiently compensated for by the reported $20 million he received for the deal.
(Source: Business Insider)
25. The e-sports industry brought in more than $1 billion in 2019: The e-sports industry broke a major milestone this year, generating $1 billion in revenue. This comes from companies setting investing heavily into the professional side of gaming and through sponsorships and advertisements. The biggest source of this revenue were media and broadcasting rights. This industry is expected to be worth more than $1.7 billion in 2022.
26. Someone bought a virtual nightclub for $635,000 in 2010: Most people don’t even spend $635,000 on a real house. This fact did not stop Club Neverdie from being sold in Entropia Universe for $635,000. This club features multiple stalls and sections that players can spend their in-game money in, allowing the club owner to generate a profit. This sale is nothing compared to the reportedly $6 million price tag that one of the planets in the same game attracted. However, that deal fell through and was never completed.
Pay $10 to level up.
Since the inception of video games to the mass audience via arcades, player skill has been the decider factor in progress. This trend is reflected in the two most popular types of games, Pay to Play (P2P) and Free to Play (F2P).
P2P and F2P games are the industry standards right now. This is because both these kinds of games have a payment model that ensures the players play on an equal footing, with the only decider for their progress being skill. However, a new breed of games has been becoming quite popular in the last decade, especially on mobile.
These kinds of games are called ‘Freemium’ games. These games are free to play; however, players can invest money into the game to improve their gameplay. These investments can be anything from buying multipliers for their level to buying rare weapons, skills, etc. All the metrics mentioned in the article before this excluded these games, as they aren’t considered true online games due to their Pay to Win (P2W) model.
Until recently, Freemium games were restricted to being only PvE (Players vs. Enemies) games, like MMORPGs. These days almost every type of game has been implemented using the Freemium model.
Let’s look into some facts and stats associated with these types of games.
27. Monster Striker is the highest-earning game in history, earning more than $7.2 billion: While it is true that in terms of true games, GTA V is the highest earner at $6 billion, it doesn’t even come near the highest earning games of all time. Monster Striker is an RPG that has the players make a team of monsters and fight in dungeons to make their teams stronger. Real currency can be used to buy in-game currency, which is used for everything, from speeding up level gain to purchasing strong equipment, etc.
(Source: Sensor Tower)
28. Puzzle and Dragons was the first mobile game to earn $1 billion: The second highest earner Puzzle and Dragons is a puzzling game played on mobile. People can invest money into various power-ups that improve their gameplay, via buying in-game gems. This game also earned the second-highest amount of money, $7 billion. Considering the fact that this game only took 12 developers around six months to make and maintain, this figure is just absurd.
(Source: Sensor Tower)
29. Lineage M had the most successful first month of any mobile game, earning $233 million: The game Lineage M was the mobile version of the South Korean ‘Lineage’ series. This was a highly anticipated game in the franchise and as a result, posted record-high earnings within its first month. It broke through Niantic’s Pokémon Go’s earlier record of $207 million by just $26 million.
(Source: Pocket Gamer)
30. Pokémon Go accounted for 45% of all mobile game-time for its first three months: Niantic’s Pokémon Go is an AR version of their flagship Pokémon series. In its first three months, it accounted for nearly half of the time people spent on mobile gaming. During this time, it earned over $500 million, the highest for any mobile game during the same time frame. This game was heavily publicized and released to a massive audience. It earned $100 million within its first 20 days, and then the revenue jumped to $207 million by the end of the first month.
(Source: Business of Apps)
31. Supercell has four games that have earned over $1 billion: Supercell, a finish company, is the most successful mobile game creator. It’s first four games all broke the $1 billion mark. These games are Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, Boom Beach, and Hay Day. Supercell is also leading the market when it comes to mobile e-sports, hosting five tournaments for its games, offering more than $3 million in prize pools.
32. Candy Crush is the most popular mobile game of all time, with over 3.5 billion downloads: Candy Crush Saga, developed by King, is by far the most popular game on the planet. It is an offline game with an online leaderboard. With over 3.5 billion combined downloads over Android and Apple, it is far ahead of all its competitors. Its popularity is still rising. Candy Crush Saga was the most downloaded game in three of the ten countries with the most smartphone users. It was the second most popular in four of the other seven, and among the top five in the other three.
(Source: App Annie)
33. Over 1 trillion games of Candy Crush have been played: In August 2018, King reported that it’s Candy Crush had achieved the milestone of 1 trillion games played. For context, this figure would imply that each human on the planet played 140 games of Candy Crush.
Data Sources and References
- Essential Facts 2019
- Entertainment Software Association
- Business Today
- PSN Trophy Leaders
- The Verge
- Twitch Metrics
- Essential Facts
- Market Watch
- Business Insider
- Sensor Tower
- Sensor Tower
- Pocket Gamer
- Business of Apps
- App Annie