Gen Z gamers help industry reach $222 billion

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The popularity of mobile games is leading to a more diverse demographic of gamers. Gen Z gamers are still the biggest demographic in gaming, but Gen X and Baby Boomers now account for a quarter of the top-grossing US games, helping boost the industry’s valuation to $222 billion this year, according to a new report.

Female gamers are also on the up, accounting for a majority of consumer spend and audience in popular games like Roblox, according to Data.ai’s latest ‘Gaming Spotlight’ report published today with IDC. This year, mobile gaming will surpass 60 per cent market share by spend, marking a more “inclusive” form of gaming across genders, generations and interests, the report shows.

The gaming industry has more than 2.7 billion gamers worldwide, and with a young demographic its scale and appeal is attracting luxury brands. Last year, Balenciaga became the first luxury brand to partner with Fortnite on four virtual outfits, or “skins”, alongside accessories, weaponry and a virtual Balenciaga destination in-game. In November, luxury fashion brand Moncler followed with in-game outerwear inspired by its recent collection with fashion brand 1017 Alyx 9SM.

Roblox in particular, a destination for brands including Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Nike, is drawing in female Gen Z-gamers. The top genres, according to downloads, are action, puzzle and simulations (such as Roblox).

In the UK, Gen Z consumers are 1.7 times more likely to play on Roblox than other gaming platforms and that increases in the US to 1.9 times. There’s still growing potential for older gamers: Gen X and Baby Boomers represent nearly 25 per cent of the top grossing games in the US, ahead 4 per cent from 2021, and the fastest growing cohort in the region. Markets with the biggest growth in mobile-game spending include APAC, Brazil and Saudi Arabia. The US and Western Europe still make up around half of mobile gaming spend.

Many Gen Z users value virtual items more than physical goods, Christina Wootton, VP of brand partnerships at Roblox said in a previous Vogue Business interview. “We’ve seen designers on Roblox designing virtual fashion for years before everybody took notice. They’ve already been getting feedback on what resonates well. They’ve been having virtual fashion shows and coming up with their own trends.”

Gaming platforms have also been positioned as an on-ramp to the metaverse’s virtual worlds for brands, as players are accused of paying for digital assets. This has even extended into NFTs, with Louis Vuitton and Burberry typing NFTs to games.

Cathy Hackl, a metaverse consultant who works with several fashion brands, said in a previous Vogue Business interview that many are considering Roblox, which she argues allows luxury fashion to test the waters without having to create a new game or app. Nike’s permanent Nikeland on Roblox, for example, awards players for being active within the game, while Vans’s ongoing Vans World enables people to buy shoes and gear that mimics physical products.

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