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How Popular are Video Games Really?

Photo by Diego Marin via Unsplash

How Popular are Video Games Really? 

By Movieguide® Contributor 

From TV shows and movies to Nintendo’s Super Mario World theme park opening at Universal Studios, gaming seems more popular than ever – and it is. 

During the pandemic, gaming saw a stark rise in popularity. As people were forced to stay home, many gravitated towards gaming as a way to fight boredom and stay connected with friends. In the three years since, gaming has maintained its high popularity, a trend that is likely to continue for a long time. 

Despite its popularity, gaming is often still viewed as a fringe interest rather than a robust, global industry. However, a look into the industry reveals just how popular video games are in the world of entertainment. 

In 2020, the gaming industry grossed $180 billion in revenues. That was more than the global movie industry from the previous year ($100 billion) and all North American sports ($75 billion) combined. The high industry numbers continued in 2021 and 2022 with gaming grossing $192.3 billion and $184.4 billion respectively. Roughly half of 2022’s revenue came from mobile gaming, while PC and console games brought in the rest.  

A large component of the high revenue comes from the structure of the industry being heavily based on a buy-to-own model rather than the subscription renting models used by other types of media industries. However, gaming console leaders Nintendo, Xbox and PlayStation do offer subscription services that provide players access to a content library with hundreds of games. 

PlayStation’s service, PlayStation Plus, leads the way in subscriber count with 45.4 million subscribers. Nintendo’s Nintendo Online follows with 36 million subscribers. Xbox comes in last with 25 million subscribers for its Xbox Game Pass service.  

Though PlayStation’s 45.4 million subscribers may seem meager when compared with Netflix’s roughly 209 million user count, the subscriber numbers are surprisingly comparable to those of other well-known streaming services. Hulu currently has 39.4 million paying subscribers, Peacock has 28 million subscribers, and Apple TV has roughly 40 million subscribers. 

It is clear that the video game industry is a giant force in the global market; it controls a much larger space in the media world than many would imagine. The enormous size of the industry’s consumer base explains why video games are starting to appear in other forms of media. 

Multiple gaming franchises have been transformed into TV shows over the past year, with high levels of success. The SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE is currently the highest-grossing movie of the year and is the second-best-performing animated movie of all time. Nintendo recently opened its Super Mario World theme park at Universal Studios. Media companies that have traditionally focused on other types of content are trying to break into the space. For example, Netflix created a game studio in the summer of 2021 and views it as one of the key components to the company’s long-term success. 

While video games have long been a silent giant in the media world, it seems like those days are coming to an end as the negative stigma and stereotypes identified with gaming fade away. 

As gaming comes into the spotlight, it is more important than ever for parents to educate themselves and their families on gaming. As with all forms of media, Movieguide® advises parents to have conversations with their kids about how to be wise with the video games they consume. 

It is not only important for children to think about the messages they are learning from video games, but also for them to be aware of the effects that certain gameplay can have, such as the repeated play of violent games leading to higher levels of overall aggression. Furthermore, gaming culture oftentimes promotes the idea of long grinding sessions, leading to multiple hours of play every day. Many studies have shown the negative effects of too much screen time, so children should be careful not to spend too much time in virtual worlds. 

Video games provide a space for people to explore new worlds, express their creativity, compete against others, and connect with friends. With advancements in technology bringing gaming from a handful of choices at an arcade to a library of millions on your smartphone, it’s no wonder that the industry has grown to be one of the most powerful players within the media world. 

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Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.

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4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.