The United States is one of the largest gaming markets in the world. Last year, there were 190 million gamers in the United States, and their game revenue reached $42.1 billion.
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While those high-level figures show how important the market is, they do not give us insight into the gamers themselves. So how do American gamers behave? Which games do they play? What brands do they prefer?
In this article, we’ll answer these questions and provide lots of data on gamers in the U.S. using Newzoo Consumer Insights research.
The study is based on our Consumer Insights Games & Esports research – an annual survey among a representative sample of the online population. We surveyed 72,000 respondents globally across 33 markets (3,229 respondents in the U.S., aged 10 to 65).
Gaming: The Most Popular Form of Entertainment for Under 50s in the U.S.
The online population in the U.S. has a wide array of hobbies. Gaming is an important part of life for all age groups we surveyed. In fact, games account for 21% of our respondents’ entertainment leisure time in the U.S.—only slightly behind broadcast television.
TV’s slightly higher share overall is mostly due to how much time the 51 to 65 group spends watching TV. When we look at the younger groups—age 10 to 20 and 21 to 35—gaming easily takes the top spot, even beating social media and streaming TV and movies.
It’s no wonder why the biggest brands and advertisers are now using games to reach younger consumers in the U.S. (and the rest of the world!).
As you can see, older groups are engaging with games in meaningful ways too.
American respondents in the 36 to 50 age group dedicate 21% of their entertainment leisure time to games (the same share as broadcast TV). Meanwhile, the 51 to 65 group dedicate 12%. These shares will only grow as younger gamers age up.
Simply put, gaming is an integral part of entertainment in the U.S. But why do people in the U.S. play games?
Why Do U.S. Gamers Play Games? Which Franchises Do They Play?
Many gamers in the U.S. play to improve their lives. Of our respondents, three out of every five American gamers play to relax and unwind. Meanwhile, 48% play to fill time and 40% play to escape everyday life.
These reasons for playing are reflected in the top gamer personas in the U.S.:
- 27% of gamers in the U.S. are Time Fillers (vs. 25% across all 33 markets covered), those who—you guessed it—play games primarily to fill time.
- 22% are Bargain Buyers (vs. 20% across all 33 markets), who enjoy AAA titles and are always on the lookout for a sale.
- 12% are Ultimate Gamers (vs. 10% across all 33 markets), those who live and breathe all things gaming.
The diverse mix of top personas means that the top games played in the U.S. are also varied. Roughly a third (or more) of U.S. gamers played the following franchises in the last six months:
- Candy Crush (39%)
- Call of Duty (36%)
- Mario (35%)
- Minecraft (32%)
- Fortnite (32%)
These are the games you’d expect to see. Candy Crush, Call of Duty, and Fortnite are all free to play, making them easy to access for a wide array of players.
CoD and Fortnite, both shooters, are available across console, PC, and mobile—and even feature cross-platform play. Again, this makes these games more accessible.
Meanwhile, Mario, Minecraft, and again Fortnite are three huge franchises, especially among younger gamers. For the most part, these titles are accessible and have strong brand loyalty across the West and beyond.
Want deeper insights about U.S.-based Call of Duty fans? Check out this article comparing fans of CoD, Halo, and Battlefield. Looking at game features that gamers in the U.S. find appealing, we found that puzzle-solving aspects is the #1 answer. This is no surprise, given Candy Crush’s prevalence in the country.
As you can see, two in every ten gamers surveyed in the U.S. found exploration and open worlds appealing. This is also no surprise.
All three console platform holders, PlayStation, Nintendo, and Xbox, offer a range of narrative-driven single-player titles—especially PlayStation, which centers its whole PS5 and PS4 software strategies on such titles. This is also significant, as most of our U.S. respondents gravitated towards single-player titles across all platforms.
However, the #2 and #3 answers for most appealing features in the U.S. were game theme and art style, respectively. To learn more, we asked respondents about their favorite themes and art styles in games As you can see, many U.S. gamers find realistic and cartoonish art styles appealing. But the themes respondents like are more rooted in fiction:
What are the Consumption Habits and Brand Attitudes of American Gamers?
Interestingly 84% of gamers in the U.S. regularly eat or drink while playing, which is higher than the average for all respondents globally.
55% of American gamers reported they ate salty snacks while playing, 42% reported drinking soft drinks, and 39% reported eating sweet snacks.
Gamers in America (age 21 to 65) also tend to have a more positive attitude towards soft drinks and energy drinks like Mountain Dew and Coca-Cola than non-gamers:
As you can see. 54% of U.S gamers reported a positive attitude for Mountain Dew compared to 31% of non-players. Similar results appear with Coca-Cola, with 69% having a positive attitude vs. 51% of non-gamers, and Budweiser with 44% vs. 25%.
The differences are even more pronounced when it comes to energy drinks. Around 42% of gamers in the U.S. have a positive attitude towards Red Bull (vs. 16% of non-players). Similarly, 40% of gamers were positive towards Monster Energy vs. 15% of non-gamers.
All five of these beverage brands have targeted gamers with their marketing, including partnerships with high-profile creators and esports teams in the space. As for whether their efforts succeeded, the data speaks for itself. Learn more about how brands are using data to succeed in games and esports right here.
This article has shown that gamers in the U.S. enjoy puzzle solving, realistic art styles in fantastical games, and playing to relax. They also play diverse titles, genres, and game modes and tend to see certain brands more positively than non-gamers. Gaming is the biggest form of entertainment for under 50s.
Long story short: America loves gaming (over 190 million players and counting!)
Learn Everything You Need to Know About Gamers with Newzoo’s Consumer Insights
Exploring gaming behavior and motivation, identifying valuable gaming audiences, and uncovering game-related opportunities is difficult. Gaming is now bigger and therefore more saturated than ever before, making things even more challenging.
Luckily, our Consumer Insights boast more robust and actionable data on everything covered in this article and more. Some of the biggest game companies and brands are already using our data to discover:
- Consumer attitudes towards game brands
- Game video content watched (live streams, reruns, recordings)
- Payment behavior
- Engagement with digital media subscriptions and hobbies
- And so much more.