Overview of Global and China’s Games Markets – 2023

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Overview of Global and China's Games Markets - 2023

By LangLink Karolina

With 2023 behind us, we are embracing the fresh start of 2024. For 2023, the gaming industry has seen some major changes and trends in global and China’s markets, and there are new market outlooks and predictions on the industry’s development in 2024. In this blog, we will look back on the global and China’s games markets in 2023 and explore their future trends.

First, let’s look at the global games market. According to the Global Games Market Report 2023 by Newzoo, the global player population continues to grow in 2023, totaling 3,305 million with a 4.3% increase year on year. The growth is primarily attributed to mobile players, but new players across various platforms also contribute their shares. The player base is expected to further expand as new generations come to age, while game-adapted movies and TV shows help turn viewers into players, contributing to a rising player population. It’s estimated that by 2026, the number of global players will reach 3,675 million, with a 5-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.7%.

In geographic terms, the player population is on the rise across all 5 regions globally. Asia-Pacific holds the largest share, accounting for over 50% of players worldwide. Meanwhile, Middle East & Africa and Latin America are experiencing the fastest growth in their player bases, with increases of 11.3% and 6%, respectively, from the previous year. This rapid growth can be attributed to several factors, including improving Internet infrastructure, greater Internet accessibility, the rise of the middle class, the widespread adoption of the free-to-play model, and a growing number of mobile users.

Having examined the latest statistics of global players, let’s take a look at the global games revenues. After a period of decline in 2022 – marking the first downturn in recent years – the global games market has begun to show signs of recovery in 2023. Though macroeconomic challenges still existed, the global games revenues reached $184 billion, representing a modest year-on-year growth of 0.6%. The increase, while not very significant, is nonetheless a positive signal, according to Newzoo.

Despite the optimistic signs of revenue growth in 2023, Newzoo’s latest projections introduce a note of caution regarding the future of the global gaming industry. In the Global Games Market Report 2022, Newzoo forecasted global game revenues to reach $206.4 billion by 2025, with a 5-year CAGR of 2.9%. However, the latest Global Games Market Report 2023 revises these expectations, predicting global revenues of $205.4 billion by 2026, alongside a more modest 5-year CAGR of 1.3%. This adjustment suggests that Newzoo has actually lowered its forecast for the future, indicating that the global gaming industry is still under some pressure, despite the encouraging message from the revenue growth in 2023.

The challenges facing mobile games are likely among the reasons that turned Newzoo’s estimations more conservative. In 2023, mobile games saw a 1.4% revenue decline due to significant hurdles in monetization and user acquisition. These challenges stem largely from updated privacy policies by Google and Apple, and the impact is expected to persist until 2026. Nonetheless, mobile games generated the highest revenues among all segments, accounting for nearly half of the total. In contrast, both console and PC games reversed their declining trends and recorded revenue increases in 2023. The console segment achieved a 1.7% growth in revenues, thanks to the release of many heavy-hitting titles in 2023. The PC segment, although not enjoying the same benefit of first-party titles as console, benefited from numerous third-party titles and livestreaming services, generating $40.4 billion of revenues in 2023, marking a 5.3% growth – the highest rate among all segments. However, not all segments fared well. The browser PC segment continued its downward trajectory, with a 16.9% revenue decline.

From a geographical perspective, Asia-Pacific, North America, and Europe remain the top 3 regions in gaming consumption, with $84.1 billion, $50.6 billion, and $33.6 billion spent on games respectively. The United States and China remain the top 2 countries, spending $47.3 billion and $43.6 billion respectively. With the exception of the Asia-Pacific, which experienced a slight revenue decrease of 0.8%, all other regions saw their revenues go up. The fastest growth occurred in Middle East & Africa and Latin America, indicating a promising outlook for their gaming industries. In recent years, demands from global game companies for game localization with these two regions as locales have surged, which also reflects the huge potential of these regions and highlights the industry’s keen interest and active investment in emerging markets.

Notably, another industry report presents the market landscape in China differently from Newzoo’s, likely due to different statistical scopes and changing exchange rates. The China’s Gaming Industry Report, released by the Game Work Committee of China Audio-video and Digital Publishing Association (CADPA), provided the following insights into the Chinese Games Market. Let’s take a closer look.

In 2023, China’s player population reached a new historical high of 668 million, a year-on-year increase of 0.61%