Video Game Market 2023: Summary and Trends
2023 is coming to an end, and, as per tradition, games market analysts sum up the year and make forecasts for the years to come. Let's take a look at how this year has unfolded for the gaming industry.
The number of players continues to grow, as in previous years: 2023 counts 3.38 billion (+6.3% compared to last year). The largest number of new players are gaming on their mobile devices.
Games have become part of mainstream culture: with each new generation, more and more people are taking up this form of entertainment. What’s more, game promotion is supported by transmedia products based on game universes — films, TV series, books, comics, and so on — as well as streaming and esports. Analysts predict that by the end of 2026, the number of players will reach 3.79 billion.
The largest amount of players (53%) as usual can be found in the Asia-Pacific region thanks to the Indian and Chinese markets, as well as the developed gaming cultures in South Korea and Japan. For example, Chinese is the second most popular language on the Stream platform, second only to English (25.96% and 36.02% of users, respectively). North America and Europe account for 20% of players. Meanwhile, we can see the greatest growth in the number of players in the rapidly developing gaming markets of the Middle East and Africa (+12.3% per year) and Latin America (+6.1%).
Revenue of the Video Game Market
In 2023 the gaming market generated $184 billion in revenue, a 0.6% increase on the previous year. There was a slight decline in the mobile segment (-1.6%). Despite this, mobile gaming remains the clear leader among all platforms: its share in the total gaming market revenue is 49%.
Revenue distribution by platform (newzoo.com)
Second place is taken by the console segment (29%), which, on the contrary, experienced growth compared to last year (+1.9%). This trend is due to the fact that a large number of long-awaited titles were released in 2023 after pandemic-related delays: Hogwarts Legacy, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Final Fantasy XVI, Spider-Man 2, Forza Motorsport, Starfield, and more. The PC games segment showed the most significant increase in revenue (+5.2%), which, as in the case of consoles, is thanks to a plethora of hit releases.
As for the distribution of revenue by region, the Asia-Pacific region still takes the lead, accounting for 46%. However, this region experienced a revenue decrease of 0.8% compared to last year, while other regions remained in the black. This decrease is due to the particularities of government regulation in China, which make it difficult for games to enter the country's market. But last year the temporary ban on issuing licenses was lifted, once again opening the way for companies to enter the Chinese gaming market. (Remember that for foreign games, localization into Chinese is mandatory).
North America continues to hold its strong position, accounting for 27% of the revenue due to the popularity of consoles there. Following the trend of new players, the largest growth in revenue was seen in the Middle East and Africa (4.7%) and Latin America (3.8%). A number of factors influenced this, including improved mobile internet infrastructure, cheaper internet access, the availability of games and the growth in the number of smartphone users.
Revenue distribution by region (newzoo.com)
As for individual countries, it's worth mentioning Saudi Arabia, which, in an effort to diversify its sources of income, has recently been investing in the gaming industry. The country's success is especially noticeable in the example of the Savvy Games Group, established in 2021: in 2023, the company acquired Scopely, a US-based mobile game developer and publisher. The Savvy Games Group also owns the esports organization, ESL, and the Facelt platform.
In Japan, the popularity of PC gaming continues to grow rapidly, unaffected by the general post-pandemic recession. For example, in 2022, growth reached an impressive 43% (from 131.3 billion yen to 189.2 billion yen).
The industry is generally returning to stability after post-pandemic fluctuations (restructuring of gaming companies, layoffs of employees recruited en masse during the pandemic “boom”, and so on). According to analysts, by 2026 the annual revenue of the gaming market will be $205.7 billion.
Dynamics of gaming market revenue (newzoo.com)
PCs and consoles
PCs and consoles hold a stable position in the market, but the growth in the number of players is not as rapid as companies would like. Therefore, they are continuing to experiment with different monetization strategies in order to diversify their income and secure a financial cushion in case a certain game doesn't perform as expected. These strategies include entering the mobile gaming market, introducing subscription services, and launching game services.
Analysts also note another interesting trend: players want to keep their games with them all the time, playing not only at home on stationary devices, but also on the go. For this reason, cloud gaming and portable consoles are growing in popularity; an example is the Steam Deck, which lets you literally carry your entire library of Steam games in your pocket.
Stricter privacy requirements have had an impact on game developers as well. After Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency (ATT) and SKAdNetwork 2.0 in 2021, developers have faced difficulties in implementing targeted advertising. Even though SKAdNetwork 4.0 made things somewhat easier for developers, they still cannot return to previous advertising models, so this issue remains relevant.
Over the years, the popularity of VR games has been growing, as has gaming in general, peaking during the pandemic. However, as people regained their freedom to interact with the real world, they spent less time in VR, causing a decline in the profitability of this sector. Nonetheless, virtual reality shouldn't be written off. Analysts predict a more widespread adoption of augmented reality devices in the future.
Neural networks in game development
Neural networks are known for their ability to generate content (images, text, and even unique voices) based on patterns and structures found in previously created content. It's no wonder the emergence of this technology has caused a significant stir in creative communities. The gaming industry is no exception. The substantial budgets of AAA games and the risks associated with their release inevitably raise questions about how to reduce costs. Game developers hold varying opinions on whether the use of neural networks will benefit or harm the industry. Some fear mass layoffs, while others believe neural networks won't replace the work of creative professionals but will aid them, accelerating the development process and reducing its costs. Whatever the case may be, according to one survey, out of 243 studios, 87% already use AI to some extent, and 99% plan to do so in the future.
Some people are even speculating that the time is not far off when neural networks will be able to create entire games, and this technology will become so accessible and easy to use that players themselves will begin to create their own games with it. This will open up a huge range of possibilities for genres like MMORPG, as players will be greeted with new content every time they enter the game.
Streaming and esports
Gaming content creators and streamers have long been part of game promotion, especially for online projects like Apex Legends or Valorant. Such content is in demand among gaming audiences as it provides opportunities to learn from experienced players, overcome challenging sections in games, and simply have fun and interact with like-minded people. This provides an excellent foundation for building a close-knit community of gaming enthusiasts who will play their favorite projects for years. It’s not uncommon for gaming communities to trust the reviews of influencers more than traditional gaming media. With content creators often forced to diversify their income (for example, due to Twitch's contentious policy changes), another interesting trend has emerged: influencers deciding to lead a game studio and engage in game development.
For the longevity of competitive games like League of Legends, CS:GO, Dota 2, and others, the development of esports plays a significant role. It has evolved into a separate industry with substantial revenues. For example, in China, where esports is well-developed and supported at the state level, industry revenues from January to June 2023 amounted to 75.993 billion yuan ($10.64 billion).
The popularity of specific genres varies from platform to platform. However, among the trends common to all, we note that the “battle royale” genre is losing ground. Hits released for a specific platform might cause fluctuations in statistics, but the overall picture looks like this:
- The most popular genre on consoles is adventure, accounting for 17.1% of the market segment's revenues in 2023, as in 2022. Transmedia titles (such as Hogwarts Legacy and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor) and remakes of famous games from past years (Dead Space, Resident Evil 4) turned out to be particularly profitable.
- On PC, shooters lead the way with 14.1% of the total revenue in 2023. Analysts predict a revenue growth of +4.9% from this genre. Hits like Valorant, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty, and Escape from Tarkov maintained their positions in 2023. Single-player projects like Payday 3 and Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun also contributed to the genre's popularity.
- On mobile platforms, the RPG genre remains the most popular. Despite a slight decline in revenue due to changes in platform holders' privacy policies, RPGs account for 23.1% of the total revenue from mobile games (over 10% in the entire gaming market).
It seems that the future of the gaming industry looks bright. Games have come a long way, from niche entertainment to a promising market with multi-billion-dollar revenues, demonstrating consistent growth year after year. It's not surprising that more and more companies are becoming interested in this field as a potential area for business, while those already present in the market are exploring new segments or regions. If you're planning to expand the geographic reach of your gaming product, a crucial step along the way is to localize it into the relevant languages. Logrus IT has extensive experience in multilingual localizations, especially in the field of gaming. By ordering multiple languages at once, you can save time and money, as well as relieve some of the burden from your project managers.