Life on earth is incredibly diverse. Humanity speaks over 7,000 languages and lives in over 190 countries. Each has its own history, traditions, and modern culture—which also tend to vary by region and even by localities. Still, despite this range in culture, gaming is a global trend.
Competition, whether through sports or achievement, is an ingrained part of the human experience. Video gaming combines competition with recreation. This makes it popular across a wide range of topics, from first-person shooters to farm simulators to slots.
Still, even though people like to game worldwide, the method of gaming and type of games preferred changed. Loosely, there are three primary categories of games. First are PC and console games, which comprise the world’s most popular titles. For example, PUBG: Battlegrounds is the world’s most popular game based on player count. The game tallied 1.2 billion users as of December 2021.
The game, released by Tencent, is available for PC, as well as Xbox, and mobile devices. Alongside PC and console games, mobile titles are also one of the world’s most standardized gaming formats. Keeping with the above example, PUBG: Mobile is the most-downloaded mobile game of all time with over 1 billion downloads as of March 2021.
Aside from PC, console, and mobile titles, another booming sector in gaming is browser titles. Browser titles aren’t downloaded but played online via a web browser. This encompasses industries like online casinos, which are played globally. The rollout of guides that include ways to learn the ropes for games like slots means newcomers can jump in at their own pace. They’re also helpful for learning new terminologies, such as Return-to-Play and wilds.
Still, even the most ubiquitous titles like slots will vary by region to cater to local gaming tastes. The same goes for mobile, console, and PC titles. But how, exactly, do these gaming trends differ worldwide?
Mobile Gaming Takes Over Asia
Back in 2020, Newzoo published a groundbreaking study that centralized Asia as a key gaming market that would see huge growth. The study focused particularly on the Southeast Asian countries of Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The study highlighted how local developers were targeting mobile-first titles.
At the time, 80% of gamers played on mobile devices, while only 69% relied on a PC and 57% on a console. Since then, the percentage of gamers who prioritize mobile titles has increased; in 2021, BusinessWire reported Southeast Asia had 250 million mobile gamers alone. A huge factor in this growth has been the rollout of 5G networks as well as eSports leagues.
Though eSports events and leagues are partly responsible for the added interest in gaming, the domination of mobile games ties back to casual titles—not competitive ones. Over 55% of mobile gamers in Southeast Asia were over 55 years of age, which points back to relaxing games like Cooking Madness, Homescapes, and Project Makeover.
Latin America Also Pivots Toward Mobile
Though mobile gaming is expected to grow overwhelmingly in Asia in the coming years, studies focusing on Latin America also zero in on mobile markets. One study between Google and Newzoo found that mobile gaming accounted for $3.5 billion in consumer spending in 2021.
The region’s entire gaming market owes half of its revenue to mobile accounts. An estimated 273 million people play mobile games around the region, with the bulk of revenue concentrated in Mexico and Brazil.
This year, the Brazilian market alone is expected to rake in $1 billion. However, the mobile market might not dominate in the coming decade. While 5G networks are popping up, internet connectivity is just as important. This is likely to contribute to the rise of online gaming, including console, PC, and browser titles.
For example, less than 20 million Latin American consumers had access to a 5G network in 2020. That number is expected to grow to close to 100 million by 2023. Whether gamers stick with mobile titles or switch to a computer remains to be seen.
Free-to-Play & Cloud-Based Gaming Key in North America
Alongside the Asian market, the North American gaming market is one of the most robust in the world. According to BusinessWire, it was worth over $42 billion back in 2020. Similar to Southeast Asia, the rise of both mobile titles and eSports has contributed to a boom in interest.
However, regional trends don’t focus on console vs. mobile or PC vs. browser titles. Instead, there’s an added emphasis on the way people game. This includes VR and AR, which are becoming more affordable in North American markets and, therefore, accessible.
However, it also relates to free-to-play platforms for mobile games and cloud gaming for PCs. By 2025, BusinessWire estimates that the US will have 328 million smartphone users; those who choose to game are likely to prefer free-to-play games that feature microtransactions and ads.
Additionally, cloud-based gaming is shifting how PC gamers access their favorite titles. This lets a user access a game from ‘the cloud’, which is then streamed live to their computer. At the moment, groups like Allied Market Research anticipate cloud gaming will be worth over $21 billion by 2030.
Serious Gaming on the Rise in Europe
Video games are focused on competition and recreation, while serious gaming combines elements of education and competition. It closely follows the rise of trends like gamification, which turns ordinary tasks or topics into games in order to boost engagement. In Europe, serious gaming focuses on topics like training new employees and learning a new language.
Recently, the Erasmus+ program, which connects students around the continent to education opportunities, co-founded a project called LUDUS. LUDUS focuses on creating serious gaming opportunities to help transfer knowledge across unrelated industries.
Smartphone subscriptions are expected to rise in correlation with serious gaming. According to provider Ericsson, there will be close to one billion smartphone users active in Central, Eastern, and Western Europe soon. However, market predictions are still uncertain; unlike other types of mobile and browser games, serious gaming focuses on education and training just as much as profit.