Digital gamers powered up during the pandemic

Though video gaming has been around for decades, it was the entertainment of choice for many during the pandemic. Average time spent gaming soared 16.5% between 2019 and 2020, from 12.7 to 14.8 hours per week, according to The NPD Group. That growth rate barely slowed in 2021, with time spent growing to 16.5 hours.

In 2022, we estimate that more than half (54.2%) of the US population will be digital gamers. Mobile gaming is the largest segment, with 48.3% of the population (162.9 million people) playing games on their smartphones.

There’s also significant overlap between mobile, console, and desktop/laptop gamers. For example, nearly 9 in 10 digital gamers play mobile games, which means just over 10% of gamers are strictly committed to desktop or console.

Despite the overlap, demographic makeups differ between platforms. Though the stereotypical gamer is a young male, three-quarters of mobile-only gamers are female, according to a June 2021 Comscore study. The stereotype does ring true in console and desktop/laptop gaming, where men make up about two-thirds of players on both platforms.

The gaming audience skews younger. Nearly three-quarters (74.2%) of those ages 18 to 24 play video games, per our estimates. For comparison, TV penetration for the same age group is just 58.2% and falling.

Gaming also makes up a larger part of younger users’ media diets. According to Deloitte’s 2022 media trends report, playing video games is the favorite entertainment activity among Gen Z respondents in five different countries (the US, UK, Germany, Brazil, and Japan). Gen Z spends one-quarter of their leisure time playing video games, more time spent than any other medium, per Newzoo. Millennials also spend more of their time gaming than with any other media type.