Video Games Contribute Over $90 Billion to U.S. Economy


A new study from the Entertainment Software Association reports that, in 2019, the U.S. video game industry generated over $90.3 billion in annual economic output.

The industry has supported approximately 429,000 jobs in the nation. Among those numbers, 143,000 people are directly employed by the industry. “Video game-industry related activity” generates over $12.6 billion in annual federal, state, and local taxes. The top ten states ranked by total “video game industry-related economic effect” are:

  • California — $51.8 billion
  • Washington — $11.6 billion
  • Texas — $4.15 billion
  • Florida— $2.7 billion
  • New York— $2.07 billion
  • Nevada — $1.9 billion
  • Minnesota — $1.8 billion
  • Idaho— $1.64 billion
  • Illinois — $1.3 billion
  • North Carolina — $1.25 billion

This data has been collected from the larger study known as, “Video Games in the 21st Century: The 2020 Economic Impact Report.” Along with this study arrives the report on the “2020 Essential Facts About the Video Game Industry.” Both documents contain many other interesting reports and statistics.

In case it’s ever been in doubt in the last few years, video games are a firmly embedded part of American culture. The ESA found that, in 2019, 75% of Americans had at least one video game player in their household. 64% of American adults (163.3 million) and 70% of Americans younger than 18 years old (51.1 million) regularly play video games. 80% of video game players say the hobby provides mental stimulation, and 79% attribute relaxation and stress relief. 57% say games bring them joy.

Games are becoming increasingly social, with 65% of adult players playing games with others, either in person or online. 55% of parents play games with their children, and 92% pay attention to the games their children play. 55% say games help them connect with friends, and half of those surveyed expressed games help their families spend time together. Overall, there are over 214 million video game players in the U.S.

We have now entered a generation of adults who grew up on computers and smartphones; for whom “video games are a natural part of their lives and their children’s lives.” The report has found that 73% of gamers own a game console. 43% own a handheld system and 25% own a mobile or VR device. The smartphone is the most common device for gaming among adults, coming in at 61% compared to 52% for game consoles. Personal computers make up 49% of that statistic. The most popular genres are casual games (71%), action games (53%), and shooter games (48%).

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In terms of more specific demographics, the reports indicate 59% of video game players are male and 41% are female. (No statistics for nonbinary and other gender non-conforming individuals have been given). The average age of a video game player is between 35 and 44. Approximately 46 million players have disabilities, a source the ESA has access to thanks to The AbleGamers Charity.

77% of women ages 18-34 play games on a smartphone while 75% of men ages 18-34 play on a console. In this same age group, 46% of women prefer to play casual games, while 51% of men prefer to play action games. For men reported in this age bracket, their top three favorite genres are shooters, adventure games, and role-playing games; for women, the genres are family games, action games, and racing games. While 70% of men say games help them stay connected with friends and family, only 55% of women say the same.

70% of men ages 35-54 play video games on a console, while 78% of women in the same age bracket play on a smartphone. 38% of men most often play action games, while 67% of women most often play casual games. The top three genres for men in this age group are casual games, shooter games, and adventure games. The top three genres for women are arcade games, family games, and action games. 83% of men say games help them relax; the statistic is only a bit less for women at 77%.

In the age bracket of video game players who are older than 65, 60% of women play on PC, only slightly behind 68% of men. 76% of women play card games, a significantly higher number than men, who make up 58% of the same statistic. Men ages 65+ prefer casual games, arcade games, and action-adventure/racing games in that order; women prefer casual games, arcade games, and family games. Overall, 63% of women in this age group have been playing games for 10 years or less, while 46% of men say the same.

In related news, the Nintendo Switch has been the best-selling hardware platform in the U.S. for 23 consecutive months, just one month short of two full years. In Nintendo’s latest earnings report, uploaded on Nov. 5, it’s been revealed that the Switch has sold over 68.3 million hardware units and 456.49 million software units worldwide.