Jun 7, 2022 - Technology

Number of video game players in U.S. dips after pandemic surge

Illustration of a gaming keyboard glowing with the colors and pattern of the American flag.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The number of Americans who play video games has declined slightly in 2022, likely due to the phasing out of pandemic-oriented lockdowns, according to a new report from the Entertainment Software Association.

Driving the news: The ESA’s new data, released this morning, shows the U.S. gaming population at 216 million, compared to 227 million for 2021.

  • The 2021 figure is still an increase from early 2020’s 214 million.
  • The stat is based on people who play video games at least one hour per week.
  • The latest U.S. census figures, from July 2021, put the country’s population at 332 million.

What they’re saying: “We actually view it as a good thing, as people are getting out, people are enjoying life, but people are still enjoying games,” ESA president Stanley Pierre-Louis told Axios.

  • Pierre-Louis said the slight drop lined up with assessments of big game companies. Many of those are reporting lower sales compared to during the worst of the pandemic but still elevated numbers from before COVID-19.


  • 48% of U.S. gamers identify as female, up from 45% the year prior.
  • The average age is 33, up from 31 (Pierre-Louis noted that there are once again more gamers 45 and up than those under 18).
  • Some of the biggest category gainers are: people who play games online or in person with others (83% of respondents, up from 65% just two years ago) and parents who play games with their kids (77% of American parents, up from 55% two years ago).
  • U.S. gamers spend, on average, 13 hours playing each week.

Between the lines: The ESA is the trade association that represents big game publishers and is the industry’s main lobbying group in D.C.

  • It commissions the survey annually and ran this year’s in February, surveying 4,000 Americans. The report has a +/- 2% margin of error.
  • Part of the ESA’s mission is to promote the positive aspects of games. To that end, the new report notes that 97% of Americans see some benefits to gaming (brings joy, inspires creativity, stress relief, etc.).

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