Playing video games is the number one choice of entertainment for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Globally, people spend billions of dollars on video games and figures are expected to rise every year. The global expenditure on games in 2019 was $152 billion and the estimate for 2022 is expected to reach $200 billion.
Read this article to find out which ones are the biggest gaming countries and how much they are spending on games. We discussed this topic with Portuguese iGaming expert Victoria Oliveira (you can read more about this author here).
How are the revenues measured?
It is a difficult task to estimate gaming revenues globally. The figures we talk about in this article were sourced by a combination of consumer research, transactional data, census data and game producers’ reports. It excludes hardware sales, tax revenues and online gambling.
In case you wonder, global gambling revenues in 2020 reached 227 billion U.S. dollars. This figure includes revenues generated by land-based casinos and legit online casinos such as the ones you find on casino Portugal online.
Biggest video game markets by revenue
China hitting the number one position on the global revenue list probably doesn’t surprise you. The country’s population is 1.4 billion so already the sheer number of people explains the ranking. Gaming revenues go hand in hand with earnings Chinese esports competitors made last year. Almost 5000 gamers made a total of $133 million in prize money! In 2020, Chinese gamers spent $44.2 billion on video games despite the fact that internet access to certain websites is blocked all over China and the country has banned many video games. Computer-savvy Chinese people seem to find a way, though, to buy and download games.
While in 2019, the United States topped this list, in 2020 it fell one place behind China in terms of gaming revenue. However, they were only $2 billion dollars behind China with total revenue of $42 billion. When you consider the fact that the USA’s population is less than a quarter of that of China, this figure is not bad at all! Americans mainly use consoles for gaming and Microsoft products are the main sources of gaming revenues, however, in recent years Nintendo gaming also started to contribute to the revenues significantly. When it comes to esports, the United States is a clear leader. Last year, over 20000 competitors earned a total sum of $172 million in prize money.
This technologically advanced country is the home of 126 million people and their total gaming revenue came up to $20 billion in 2020. The country is home to some of the biggest gaming companies such as Nintendo, Sega, Namco Bandai, Sony, and Konami. In Japan, almost everybody owns a smartphone and gaming is available to literally everyone. The only limitation they face is that the market is not very open to foreign games. Over 90% of the games’ revenue come from Japanese games as it is difficult for foreign companies to break into the local market.
South Korea’s estimate of gaming revenue in 2020 was $7.3 billion. South Koreans are also pretty serious with esports and their 4200 players collected $101 million in prize money last year. The small Asian country has made high-speed internet available in most of the country and they have the highest smartphone penetration rate in Asia. Over 53% of the population say they play mobile games at least once a month. South Korea has hosted many esports tournaments and the popularity of video gaming and esports is clearly on the rise.
No European country made it to the top 4, however, Germany, the UK and France came in 5th, 6th and 7th. Italy and Spain took the 9th and 10th spots and gaming revenues clearly correlated with these countries’ populations. We are not expecting to see Portugal in the top ten anytime soon due to the size of its population.
China, the United States, Japan and South Korea generate most gaming revenue globally with the first three taking the lion’s share of the business. Of the European countries Germany, the UK and France are the most significant in terms of revenue.