The United Kingdom (UK) is the leading video game market in Europe and one of the five largest video game markets worldwide. Thanks to the ongoing evolution of gaming hardware, software, and digital gaming content across the region, video games have become an immensely popular pastime among players of all ages. The video gaming industry has ranked as the UK’s most lucrative digital entertainment sector for more than a decade, but it was the series of lockdowns that really propelled gaming engagement to a new level.

The UK’s video gaming landscape

The UK is not only home to some of the world’s most successful gaming franchises, such as Rockstar North’s Grand Theft Auto, but the region also sports the highest number of gamers in Europe . With an estimated 44.5 million players and a gaming penetration of around 65 percent, it comes as no surprise that consumer spending on the medium has also seen considerable growth in recent years. In 2021, video game revenue in the UK surpassed six billion U.S. dollars, which marked an increase of 70 percent compared to 2017. While this growth in spending was visibly boosted by the pandemic, the leap can also be read as a result of the ongoing digitalization of the gaming world.

Mobile gaming unlocks industry growth

In line with global market trends, mobile gaming has become a driving force behind the steady growth of the UK’s video game industry . Smartphone ownership continues to increase throughout the UK, and thanks to the ever-expanding selection of gaming app content, consumer spending on mobile games has never been higher. In early 2021, the UK’s mobile gaming penetration rate stood at 39 percent, which was not only considerably higher than penetration rates for PCs and game consoles alike but also signaled a shift in gaming preference, particularly among younger audiences. So what are the titles that make gamers reach for their smartphone instead of their controller? As of May 2021, Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! was the most downloaded Android gaming app in Great Britain , while Score! Hero 2 amassed the most downloads among Apple users.

Video game streaming is the latest craze

Streaming has become a fundamental part of the UK’s gaming landscape. Survey findings show that approximately 26 percent of gamers watch video gaming content online, while 10 percent of users also broadcast gameplay themselves. YouTube Gaming and Twitch stood out as the most popular video game streaming sites in the UK in 2020, which matched the double-digit increase in global viewership that these two platforms experienced during the pandemic. Ever since people started to look for indoor entertainment options in early 2020, Twitch’s UK user numbers have not fallen below one million mobile app users per month.


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