The expansive global phenomenon of online gaming is nothing new, and with ever-evolving technological advancements, the industry is predicted to continue growing exponentially. A leading expert in video games and gaming data, Newzoo, recently published its Global Games Market Report that estimates the number of players worldwide will reach 3.38 billion this year. Asia-Pacific accounts for more than half of the world’s players, thanks to giants like India and China and countries like Japan and South Korea. North America and Europe are home to one-fifth of all gamers.
The report further explores the paying gamers market and predicts that this segment will grow by +7.3% globally to 1.47 billion in 2023 due to the growing popularity of in-game subscriptions and downloadable content. Cloud gaming is yet another growing market with the potential to rack up 43.1 million paying users by the end of 2023, growing to 80.4 million by 2025
UK Gaming Landscape
Now let us look closer at the UK Gaming Market analyzed by Newzoo. The United Kingdom is home to 39.1 million gamers who generated $5.5 billion in revenue in 2022, the 6th largest gaming market in the world.
What are key elements that characterize the British gaming landscape?
Pioneering Game Studios: The UK is home to several pioneering game development studios that have produced iconic and influential titles. Studios like Rare, known for games like Donkey Kong Country, Banjo-Kazooie, and GoldenEye 007, and DMA Design (now Rockstar North), responsible for the Grand Theft Auto series, have pushed boundaries and set new standards in game design.
Esports and Competitive Gaming: The UK has a growing esports scene, with several professional esports teams, tournaments, and events. The country has hosted international esports competitions, attracting players and spectators worldwide, such as League of Legends’ MSI and Apex Legends’ ALGS. For more information about the esports market, refer to our earlier blog that explores esports in greater depth.
Education and Training: The UK offers a variety of educational programs and courses focused on game development, animation, and other related fields. Universities and institutions in the UK provide opportunities for individuals to learn and excel in various aspects of the gaming industry. The UK is world-leading in esports educational initiatives. Titles like the Tycoon series (e.g., RollerCoaster Tycoon) and the Kerbal Space Program (developed by a UK-based team) have educational elements that make learning enjoyable.
Esports is available in educational curricula through various undergraduate and postgraduate university degrees in esports at universities, including Staffordshire, Chichester, Falmouth, Northampton, and Nottingham Trent’s Confetti Institute of Technology. Additionally, the British Esports Association and education provider Pearson run the BTEC Esports qualification for high school-aged students in the UK.
Mobile and Casual Gaming: Like in other regions, mobile and casual gaming has become extremely popular in the UK. Mobile games have a broad audience, including people who might not consider themselves traditional gamers but love to watch gamers play instead. 46% of British gamers use mobiles 4 hours a week to play or watch games. Over a third of the UK online population views gaming video content (36%), with 15% watching esports content. The top 5 most popular games are Overwatch, Fortnite, FIFA 23, Grand Theft Auto V, and Call of Duty.
Indie Game Development: Indie games are created by independent game developers rather than those who work for large development studios or publishers like Sega and Ubisoft. The UK has a vibrant indie game development scene, with many small studios and independent developers creating unique and innovative games, such as Bithell Games, Hello Games, Llama Soft, White Paper Games, and Roll7. Indie games often experiment with unique gameplay mechanics, art styles, and themes and receive recognition and awards for their creativity.
British Influence on Game Design: British game designers and developers have had a significant impact on the global gaming industry, contributing to various genres, styles, and innovations in game design. The UK has a strong tradition of producing adventure and puzzle games emphasizing storytelling, exploration, and intellectual challenges. The UK also contributed to the popularization of open-world and sandbox game design. Game designers are known for infusing their games with a British sense of humor, satire, and wit, with games like the Worms series (Team17) and LittleBigPlanet (Media Molecule). Finally, the UK made significant contributions to game music and sound design. British composers and sound designers have created iconic soundtracks that enhance games’ emotional impact and immersion.
The UK government has supported the gaming industry through various initiatives and funding programs. This support has contributed to the growth and development of the sector.
Preferred Payment Methods
We have seen how in-game subscriptions, downloadable content, and cloud gaming have become essential drivers in the growth of paid gaming. In 2022, 64% of UK gamers spent money on game-related special offers, exclusive content, personalized characters, expansions, and subscriptions.
What are British Gamers’ Preferred Payment Methods?
- Credit/Debit Cards: Credit and debit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, and other major card providers, are widely used to pay for gaming subscriptions and digital content.
- PayPal: PayPal is extremely popular amongst paying players. Many gaming platforms and services accept PayPal as a payment method.
- Digital Wallets: Digital wallets, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, provide a convenient way for gamers to make payments using their smartphones or other devices.
- Direct Debit: Direct debit is a common payment method in the UK, allowing users to authorize recurring payments directly from their bank accounts. This method is often used for ongoing gaming subscriptions.
- Prepaid Cards: Prepaid cards, such as gift cards or prepaid debit cards, can be bought and loaded with a specific amount of money. Gamers often use these cards to add funds to their accounts for purchasing content.
- Cryptocurrencies: Some gaming platforms accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum as a form of payment for gaming content and subscriptions.
- Retail Cards and Vouchers: Retail-specific cards or vouchers, such as those sold by retailers like Amazon, can be used to add funds to gaming accounts or purchase content.
- Subscription Platforms: For cloud gaming services and gaming subscriptions, platforms like Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Plus, and EA Play offer direct subscription payments through their respective ecosystems.
Role of Payment Processors
The UK has a large population of gamers and a strong gaming culture. There is a substantial demand for gaming-related transaction solutions, including purchases of games, in-game items, subscriptions, and other digital content. Many games, especially in the mobile and free-to-play sectors, rely heavily on micro-transactions and in-game purchases.
Payment processors can facilitate these microtransactions, which contribute a sizable part of revenue for game developers and publishers. The UK has a thriving esports scene, with various tournaments, competitions, and events. Payment processors provide a platform for transactions related to ticket sales, merchandise, sponsorships, and other financial aspects of esports. Esports is a massive market for payment service providers specializing in mobile payments and in-app purchase solutions.
The global nature of the gaming industry means that UK gamers often engage in transactions with international game developers, publishers, and platforms. Thus, the esports market is excellent for payment processors that seamlessly facilitate cross-border transactions and currency conversions. Collaborations between payment processors and gaming companies can lead to joint marketing campaigns, loyalty programs, and unique offers, enhancing the overall gaming experience for consumers. Fortunately, the UK has a well-established regulatory framework for financial transactions, providing a stable and secure environment for payment processors.
Want to learn more about your recurring payment processing options?
Segpay is an international payment processor with extensive expertise in subscription-based payments and understands the best ways to provide paying players with secure and user-friendly payment methods that are popular in the UK. Our UK Sales Team is available for all your questions via: [email protected]