Video games are bigger than ever. Every day, millions of children and adults pick up a controller and guide characters through virtual worlds. If you’re a tech professional who’s interested in entering the video game industry, knowing as much as possible about the gaming market and the people playing video games is essential.
According to the Entertainment Software Association’s (ESA) annual 2023 Essential Facts About the U.S. Video Game Industry report, which was released in July, 65 percent of Americans play video games (that’s the equivalent of 212.6 million weekly players), and the average gamer’s age is 32. “Playing video games has become the norm, as those who first learned to play on early consoles now share their joy of play with their own children and grandchildren, resulting in an expansive and diverse player community,” Stanley Pierre-Louis, President and CEO of the ESA, wrote in a statement accompanying the release of that report.
Here are some other key stats from the report about how people play video games:
- 58 percent of adult video game players play games on multiple platforms (i.e., smartphones, consoles, and more).
- Some 64 percent of players rely on smartphones for gaming, and 12 percent exclusively rely on a smartphone for their games.
- “Casual” games such as puzzle and arcade games are the most popular among U.S. gamers.
While it’s difficult to determine how many people around the world play video games, it’s clear that the global video game industry is truly a massive business. Eighty percent of video gamers play games with others, making it a way for people to effectively bond over similar interests.
If you’re a software developer or other tech pro interested in the video game market, you can use much of this data to determine your path through the video game industry (which is also becoming increasingly diverse). For example, focusing on casual games for smartphones can yield an audience and revenue.
According to a survey of 2,300 game developers by the Game Developers Conference (as part of its annual State of the Game Industry report), developing for the PC interests developers the most, followed by popular consoles, Android and iOS devices. It’s worth noting how virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) devices are well down the list of desired platforms for future development, suggesting those cutting-edge technologies haven’t yet seen widespread interest or adoption among video gamers and video game developers:
No matter what your preferred platform or video game developer career path, keep in mind that the gaming industry is expected to grow from $220 billion last year to more than $583 billion in annual revenue by 2030. For developers, the job can also prove relatively lucrative: the average salary for a game developer in the US is $74,649 per year, according to Glassdoor.
Lightcast, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, suggests these skills pop up frequently in postings for game developers:
- Game development (of course)
- Level design
- Epic Unreal Engine
- Adobe Photoshop
- Art Direction
- Microsoft C#
- 3D Modeling/Design
- Software Engineering
- Gaming Industry Knowledge
It’s especially important to know Unity and Unreal, the two most popular game development platforms. If you’re interested in mobile games, knowledge of iOS and Android is likewise critical. For iOS, that means mastering Swift and Objective-C; for Android, Java and Kotlin (the Android developer portal also features all the documentation you need).
The video game industry will only grow larger in coming years. If you master the right skills, you can build games that delight millions—and establish a wonderful career in the process.