Gaming and esports - a global force

No longer simply a niche form of entertainment for so-called ‘nerds’ gaming and esports have become a significant force in global entertainment. We take a look at the latest data from YouGov.

Last year was one of the most successful in gaming history yet, according to a new report by YouGov. Data shows that on average, four in ten gamers have been playing more in 2020 than the year before, driven by the global pandemic. However, beyond the pandemic the success of gaming is an extension of its significance as a force in mainstream entertainment with revenues comfortably exceeding those of global film, TV and digital music.

The report covers 24 global markets and looks at the types of platforms, frequency, games and habits. When it comes to platforms, mobile gamers – those who play on a smartphone or tablet – reigns supreme, comfortably outnumbering console and PC gamers. Germany, for example, has twice as many mobile gamers as console gamers (47 percent vs. 23 percent). In Thailand, the difference is even starker; just 12 percent play on consoles compared to 78 percent who use a smartphone or tablet.

So how often do smartphone gamers play? The reports categorises gamers into four categories: light (less than one hour per week), moderate (one to 10 hours per week), heavy (10-25 hours per week) and heavy+ (more than 25 hours per week). According to the data, moderate gamers account for over half of smartphone players in every country. The countries or territories with the most heavy+ gamers amongst those who play on smartphones or tablets are China and Hong Kong with 22 and 20 percent, respectively.

The report also covers gaming video content (GVC), which has developed its own distinct online subculture, and even its own celebrities. Platforms like YouTube, iQiyi and Twitch have become known for their streaming accounts that attract millions of viewers.

The proportion of gamers who actively engage with streaming platforms – those who watch videos, upload their own content, or both – varies greatly from market to market. YouTube Gaming is by far the most popular platform, with Southeast Asia accounting for the top four markets in terms of engagement; Vietnam (64 percent), Indonesia (58 percent), Thailand (49 percent) and Malaysia (48 percent).

Video game competitions, also known as esports, is a multi-million dollar industry with its own sponsors, leagues, and competitors, attracting major investment from within and outside the industry. More recently, the traditional sport world has also entered esports in a big way - for example, Paris Saint-Germain, one of the most celebrated sports brands in the world, is launching a new Thai esports team, PSG Esports ROV.

Generally speaking, familiarity with esports is greater in Asia and Scandinavia, resulting in higher engagement in those markets.

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