The number of people playing games around the world will surpass three billion by 2023, according to a new report from gaming analytics firm Newzoo.
As it stands, the firm says there are 2.69 million gamers worldwide. By the end of 2020, Newzoo projects that there will be 2.7 billion gamers worldwide; 2.5 billion will be playing on mobile, 1.3 billion will be on PC, and 800 million will game on console. This adds up to more than 2.7 billion because many gamers play on more than one device.
It’s not necessarily surprising that mobile is leading the charge, given the ubiquity of smartphones and popularity of free to play games like Fortnite, Pokémon Go, PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty Mobile.
On the other hand, what might be unexpected is the fact that the Middle East and Africa are outpacing North America in terms of the number of gamers. Further, these markets will surpass Europe’s player numbers by 2022, according to Newzoo. Improved internet infrastructure, affordable phones, and a growing middle class are all credited in helping with this.
It will also be interesting to see what role streaming services will play in the continued adoption of mobile as a gaming platform. For a while now, Microsoft has touted a ‘gaming for everyone’ mandate that aims to connect those on mobile, Xbox consoles and PC.
To that end, the company has been working on its Project xCloud service, which aims to stream big games like Halo 5: Guardians and Gears 5 to smartphones and tablets. A preview launched in Canada in January and a full version of xCloud is expected to launch sometime later this year.
Google, meanwhile, has been slowly growing its Stadia streaming service, which launched in November and is available on a variety of Android phones, on top of TVs and laptops. Stadia was made available for free in April, while the premium Premiere Edition bundle got a permanent $30 price cut earlier this month.
Part of the benefit of streaming is enabling devices like phones or low-cost laptops to play games that would normally be too advanced based on their specs. As both infrastructure and these streaming services continue to evolve, even more people might be encouraged to get into gaming, especially on their mobile device.
Overall, Newzoo expects the global gaming industry to generate $159 billion USD (about $217.8 billion CAD) in 2020 alone.