A new publication by Hamburg-based secondary research organization yStats.com, “Global Online Gaming Market 2014”, reports that trends show that gamers are moving away from consoles and pre-installed PC games toward online and mobile games.
The online gaming market is forecasted to grow by a high one-digit percentage point annually in the years leading up to 2017. By then, online gaming spending is expected to almost reach the level of console spending. At the same time, mobile games are predicted to be the fastest growing segment of the video games market. Game-playing on mobile devices has already become a major activity of Internet users worldwide, slightly ahead of online gaming. Also social gaming is a fast growing industry, taking up an increasing share of the total video gaming market. Both segments are forecasted to outpace the total online gaming market in terms of growth, increasing by a small double-digit percentage point annually.
Worldwide, over 40% of internet users play games online, with males accounting for slightly more than half of the total gaming audience. The Asia-Pacific region has the largest number of players, but North America and Europe lead in terms of regular engagement in game-playing. Regarding payment for playing, credit cards still dominate the gaming landscape, but the use of alternative payments such as E-Wallets is on the rise.
Practices and trends in online gaming vary by world region.
In the advanced online gaming market of the USA, mobile gaming was spreading more than social gaming in 2013 in terms of popularity, and this trend is expected to persist. Mobile games remained the largest segment in terms of revenue, accounting for around a quarter of the total market.
In Latin America last year, Brazil was by far the largest online gaming market and is forecasted to grow with annual rates of over 20% in the next few years. Reduction of game piracy, as well as growth of the Internet and smartphone audience boost the online games market in Brazil. Over half of Internet users in Brazil now play online games, with the largest segment of gamers using mobile devices. In Mexico also most video game aficionados played through a mobile device, while the total video gaming market there reached a value of nearly a billion Euros last year. A considerable portion of Internet uses in Argentina also are video game players.
In Europe, the UK led spending rates on digital game content, while Germany was the leading country by average monthly revenue per paying user. Online gaming is a vast market in the UK as nearly 20% of the population of the UK use the Internet to play video games. The online game market there has further growth potential because of the mobile trend. Tablets were the first choice of over a third of mobile device owners to play games in 2013 in the UK, while half of all tablet owners played games. In Germany, consoles and PC are still popular for gaming, but mobile and social platforms are gaining importance. Downloads generated the highest revenue on the online gaming market in Germany in 2013. Mobile game sales also grow. The most popular types of games played in Germany are strategy, casual and action games.
In France, digital games are expected to grow and take a large share of the total video games market, while physical games sales decline. The revenues of the digital gaming market in France grew by over 10% in 2013, while the share of digital gaming on the total gaming market increased. Computer was the device most frequently used for gaming in France last year, followed by smartphone. In Belgium, the largest group of gamers played social or casual games, with the mobile gaming audience also being significant. A similar pattern was observed in Spain, and in Italy the PC and consoles are still used more for games than smartphones and tablets.
The emerging markets Turkey and Poland were ahead of Western European countries in terms of the share of online gamers on Internet users in 2013. Eastern European countries also had a higher share of users who play networked games than in Western Europe, with Croatia in the lead. In Poland, computer games remained a major segment of the gaming market in 2013, but social, mobile games and online MMOs are catching up. In Turkey, over 20 million people play games online regularly, with social games being the largest contributors to this number.
In Russia, the online gaming market is booming, with still more growth expected from the mobile and social platforms. The online gaming market grew by over 20% in Russia, with MMO being the largest segment, followed by social. The number of mobile gamers in Russia is forecasted to increase annually to reach over 60 million in 2016, with around the same number playing online games other than on mobile devices.
The Asian region has the highest number of game players on the globe. In Japan, the gaming market is dominated by local game publishers, however, more foreign games are expected to be adapted for the country. Mobile gaming revenues on smartphones grew five-fold in the last two years, reaching a small one-digit sum in EUR billions. The social gaming market in Japan also saw the strong growth rates with revenues outperforming mobile games. In China, regulation plays an important role in the fast growing gaming industry, which favors local game publishers. Several hundreds of million people play online and mobile games, with the number growing every year. Online gaming revenues in China are forecasted to grow at rates above +20% between 2013 and 2017.
The share of mobile games on total online gaming revenues is expected to increase significantly in the next four years, as well as that of social gaming. In South Korea, mobile gaming is a leading trend, led by a messaging app which transformed into a popular gaming platform. Mobile is forecasted to be the fastest growing segment in the gaming industry in India also through the next few years, with revenues approaching that of console.
In the Middle East, a quarter of Internet users in the UAE play or download video games or computer games online, almost double the share in 2010. Moreover, over 10% of mobile users in the UAE download games on mobile. In Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the most visited gaming websites have a monthly audience reach of over 10% of Internet users.
Online gaming revenues in South Africa are forecasted to grow by a small-double digit percentage between 2013 and 2017. Mobile gaming outperforms pure online gaming by far in South Africa, with the revenues differing by several times. In other African countries, such as Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Senegal, online and mobile gaming is also gaining popularity, with a small double-digit share of Internet users engaging in this activity on their mobile devices and PCs.