In the UK, a Growing Appetite for Gaming and eSports

A new MTV Knowing Youth study finds that most young people in the UK are gamers--and many enjoy watching others play.

Over the past five years, advancing technology and increasing smartphone penetration have revolutionized the gaming industry–for “commuter gamers” and “elite gaming athletes” alike.

Some video games now have budgets that rival Hollywood movies, leading to enhanced platforms and gaming experiences. And now that more people have smartphones, access to gaming apps is available to a wide and growing audience.

Professional competitive gaming, known as eSports, is also on the rise. These competitions regularly fill large stadiums and have prize funds in the millions. From clips of favorite games to live feeds of gaming tournaments, many companies are looking to capitalize on this trend via short- and long-form videos, team sponsorships and large-scale gaming events.

A recent Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) study of 400 people ages 13 to 30 in the UK sought to paint an updated picture of UK gaming consumption among young adults and explore their views on the newer gaming phenomenon of eSports.

Below are some key headlines from the study:

Nearly 9 out of 10 UK young people play video games—and their appetite for gaming is growing.

At 87% overall, gaming is extremely popular among males (97%) and females (81%). Contrary to the stereotype of children and teenagers as gaming’s primary participants, it really is a maturing area. With age, the percentage of the population that’s involved in gaming increases (88% of 13-17s, 88% of 18-24s and 93% of 25-30s).

Today, young adult gamers (especially females) report that they’re playing more now than they were a year ago. This appetite for gaming does not seem to be diminishing—57% of gamers say they would like to play video games more.

Young people who are involved in gaming are passionate about it and see it as a key hobby.

Between the complex games on Xbox and PlayStation and the addictiveness of mobile gaming apps, many participants cite gaming as one of their most important activities.

Just over half of gamers (52%) say they are passionate about gaming and nearly half (47%) claim it’s one of their main interests. A third overall consider themselves serious gamers—especially males and those in their twenties.

Move over PlayStation & Xbox! PC & Mobile are now the most popular gaming platforms in the UK.

The most popular platforms among young adults surveyed are PCs (62%), Mobile iOS (52%) and Mobile Android (43%). Owing to the popularity and ease of access to gaming on mobile platforms, there is a whole new audience of casual gamers (65%)—a more pronounced phenomenon among females (70% are casual gamers).

Male and female gamers are drawn to different types of games. But for most, it’s an online activity they enjoy with others.

While males gravitate toward Action, Combat, Adventure, and Sports games, females are more likely to play Adventure, Strategy, Simulation, and Puzzle games.

Three out of four play online against friends, family or strangers, adding a competitive element to their gaming.

When it comes to eSports, awareness is strong among UK young people–and a large segment enjoys watching others play.

Nearly half of young adults surveyed (49%) had heard of eSports. Close to 40% have interacted with eSports in the past—either watching footage of others playing video games, going to an eSports event as a player or spectator, or searching for information about events or players.

Interestingly, those in the 25-30 age group were more likely to have interacted with eSports than younger respondents. This behavior was also more common among males.

In addition, more than 1 in 10 people ages 13 to 30 say they access eSports content at least once per week.

Gaming consumption complements linear TV viewing–and fans are keen to see eSports on mainstream media channels.

For UK gamers, gaming time does not cannibalize TV viewing time—they are more likely than non-gamers to watch 2+ hours of TV daily (42% vs. 36%).

For eSports, the most popular areas of interest are watching footage of people like reviewers, vloggers, or celebrities playing games (43%), watching footage of an eSports tournament on a website (38%), going to an eSports event as a spectator (32%), and watching footage of an eSports tournament on TV (31%).