The video game industry is predicted to experience rapid growth in the coming years. The industry as a whole generated around $135 billion throughout 2018. This is a 66% increase in global gaming revenue since 2015. (1)
Asia Pacific leads as the largest gaming market, followed by North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, respectively. (2)
Revenue & Trends by Top Countries
China alone accounts for about 28% of global game revenue, or around $37.9Bn. This is due to a massive gaming population (around 619.5 million). Mobile games accounted for $23Bn of the Chinese market, with PC and console games generating $14.4 and $0.6 billion respectively. The vast majority of Chinese gamers (94%) purchased virtual items throughout 2018, mostly cosmetics and character skins.
The top mobile games in China are native MOBAs like Arena of Valor, which has a massive esport following, though only in China. Arena of Valor has not found much esport success outside of China. 72% of China’s gaming population watches esport tournaments. (3)
One thing worth noting is that China’s esport scene mostly revolves around Chinese games – the government has blocked a large number of popular online games, including some of the most popular esport games on the global scene.
The U.S. comes in second at $30.4Bn total gaming revenue. With a population of 178.7M gamers, 79% of gamers spent money on in-game items. Mobile gaming leads the market revenue, followed by PC games and consoles, respectively. It’s worth mentioning gender statistics in the U.S. – 60% / 58% of mobile games are male / female, 42% / 24% for consoles, and 46% / 36% for PC games.
Esports are also popular in the U.S., with 63% of the gaming population viewing esports tournaments. The most popular esports game in the U.S. is Super Smash Bros. (4)
Japan remains in third, adding $19.2 billion to the global revenue. With a population of 67.6 million gamers, 77% spent money on in-game items. What’s worth noting here is that Japanese gamers spend more on mobile games than any other market, averaging 1.5x higher purchase-per-player overall.
As with other countries, the gaming demographic leads towards male gamers. For mobile gamers, 41% are male, and 32% are female. For consoles, 30% are male and 15% are female. On PC, 28% are male, 15% are female.
Of the top three countries, Japan has the largest ratio of esports viewers. 84% of Japanese gamers view esports tournaments, with the most popular franchise being Street Fighter. (5)
Revenue by Platform
Mobile is the largest gaming platform, accounting for 51% of global revenue in 2018. This is expected to climb to 54% in 2019, 57% in 2020, and 59% by 2021. Basically, this means that mobile gaming will be a $100Bn market by 2021. (6)
It’s worth noting that the rise of mobile games has impacted, but not significantly gutted the console and PC industry, which also saw their own growth – just at a much smaller growth rate than mobile gaming.
Console and PC Games
PC and console games saw a 3.1% and 2.3% revenue growth in the past decade, respectively. PC games are expected to account for 24$ of the market in 2019, and consoles will take 22%. (6)
PC game revenue in the esports market will likely not see significant growth, as most of the popular PC games are operating at their maximum monetization potential. Furthermore, it’s unlikely that any new PC games will sweep the market. There’s also been a decline in average price for pay-to-play PC titles, as well as significant backlash against the freemium model.
Consoles, on the other hand, have the potential to significantly increase esport revenue, as live streaming console titles is becoming more popular. By 2021, the console market could reach $39Bn, in part thanks to console gamers embracing live streaming and esports.
An oft-ignored category are “browser games” (video games played in a web browser), which are usually lumped in with the PC game market. However, we will separate browser games from the PC game market, because browser games are highly cross-platform compatible.
In 2017, browser games accounted for $4.5Bn of the overall market, or around 4% (7). However, browser games are expected to decline to around $2.5Bn by 2021, as many browser games (and browser game titles) transition to mobile. In fact, many popular mobile games are strongly based on browser titles, or mobile versions of games that were originally developed for PC browsers.
Exact numbers for browser-based game revenue is a bit difficult to track, as only a very tiny percentage of browser games rely on a freemium model. It is mostly browser-based MMOs that offer in-app purchases. The majority of browser-based games rely on traffic and ad revenue.
Esports Revenue & Player Incomes
Next to mobile games, esports has seen the highest year-to-year revenue growth in recent years, expected to surpass the $1.1Bn revenue mark in 2019. (8)
The total predicted revenue for esports depends on various revenue sources, which are as follows:
The projected revenue for 2019 takes into account the growing esport audience, which is expected to surpass 201.2 million regular viewers, and 252.6 million casual viewers.
As we mentioned earlier, China recently banned a large number of the most popular esport games including PubG and Fortnite. Other popular esport games like League of Legends and Overwatch were placed on a “watch list” for inappropriate content. These facts should be taken into account when considering the overall esport growth for 2019 on a global scale, as China is one of the largest gaming markets.
As we noted earlier in the Console and PC Games section, the growing popularity of streaming will lead a growth in esport interest amongst console gamers. With the exception of a few notable console titles like Call of Duty, Halo 5, Mortal Kombat X, Super Smash Bros, and Street Fighter, PC games have typically dominated the esports market, thanks to the popularity of RTS games like StarCraft, and MOBAs like League of Legends.
The most popular esport games in 2018 (ranked by prize pool) were (9):
- Call of Duty: WWII ($4.17M)
- StarCraft II ($4.53M)
- Hearthstone ($4.95M)
- Heroes of the Storm ($6.52M)
- Overwatch ($6.7M)
- PubG ($6.73M)
- League of Legends ($14.12M)
- Fortnite ($19.96M)
- Counter-Strike ($22.47M)
- Dota 2 ($41.26M)
The games expected to become more popular in 2019 are:
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
- Super Smash Bros Ultimate
- Clash Royale
- Magic: The Gathering Arena
Esport Player Earnings
The average salary for an esports player ranges between $1,000 - $5,000 monthly throughout 2018.
The top 5 earning players for console games were (10):
- Damon Barlow: $728,222
- Ian Porter: $703,851
- Jordan Kaplan: $655,217
- Tony Campbell: $639,125
- Paul Duarte: $629,250
The top 5 earning players for PC games were (11):
- Kuro Takhasomi: $4,163,926.95
- Johan Sundstein: $3,749,055.59
- Amer Al-Barkawi: $3,728,337.28
- Ivan Ivanov: $3,519,411.76
- Lasse Urpalainen: $3,503,116.04
It’s worth noting that the majority of top earners are Dota 2 players. In fact, the top 45 earners overall are Dota 2 players, followed by a few Counter-Strike and League of Legends players.
The top 5 highest earnings by country (based on earnings of players):
- United States: $95,016,301
- China: $87,212,214
- Korea: $72,126,497
- Sweden: $30,379,428
- Denmark: $25,167,864
Twitch Streaming Stats and Streamer Incomes
Twitch.tv has proved to be an inspired acquisition for Amazon, and the growth of the platform has truly been explosive in the past few years, building a massive economy for streamers and the opportunity to play professionally.
Average Concurrent Viewers on Twitch since 2012
Growth in Twitch Broadcasters Over Time
We’ve since an explosive growth in the number of people broadcasting on Twitch, especially in the past 2 years. This has opened a gateway to a whole new generation who want to play and stream video games professionally. It’s a cultural phenomenon.
Twitch Milestones for 2019
Twitch streamers make roughly $2.50 per month per channel subscription, as the subscription cost of $4.99 is split either 50/50 or 60/40 between Twitch and the streamer. The split scales in favor of the streamer with viewership.
Twitch streamers can also monetize their channels through donations (which go entirely to the donor), ad revenue, and sponsorships. There are many variables involved, so it is nigh impossible to calculate an “average” income for Twitch streamers. We can, however, offer a look at the approximate incomes of top Twitch streamers, based on the various metrics mentioned above. (12)
- Ninja: $5,417,447/yr
- Shroud: $3,193,097/yr
- TimTheTatman: $2,770,287/yr
- DrLupo: $1,963,700/yr
- DrDisRespectLIVE: $1,791,453/yr
- MOONMOON_OW: $1,726,966/yr
- AdmiralBahroo: $1,688,351/yr
- Sodapoppin: $1,666,707/yr
- LIRIK: $1,545,598/yr
- Tsm_Myth: $1,330,275/yr
Most Streamed Games on Twitch as of February 2019
- Apex Legends: 156,183 average viewers
- League of Legends: 135,236 average viewers
- Fortnite: 130,615 average viewers
- CS: GO: 87,472 average viewers
- Dota 2: 85,684 average viewers
- Overwatch: 48,969 average viewers
- PubG: 26,094 average viewers
- Grand Theft Auto V: 24,346 average viewers
(1)GamesIndustryBiz, Global games market value
(2)WePC, 2019 Video Game Industry Statistics, Trends & Data
(3)Newzoo, China Games Market 2018
(4)Newzoo, U.S. Games Market 2018
(5)Newzoo, Japan Games Market 2018
(6)Newzoo, Mobile Revenues Account for More Than 50% of the Global Games Market
(7)Newzoo, Global Games Market Report 2018.PDF
(8)Newzoo, Global Esports Economy Will Top $1 Billion
(9)EsportObserver, 10 Biggest Esports of 2018
(10)EsportsEarnings, Top Console Players
(11)EsportsEarnings, Highest Overall
(12)MediaKix, How Much Do Twitch Streamers Make