Infographic charts gaming revenue over five decades

Thank you, Candy Crush!


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We love The Mandalorian as much as anyone else does. (Possibly more.) But even we have to concede that TV—even the streaming and on-demand kind—can’t quite compete with the appeal of video games.

Earlier this week eCentralSports told you about a report from the Entertainment Software Association of Canada. That report (based on a study conducted by the NPD Group) notes that less than 2% of Canadians aged 18 to 64 began to play video games for the first time during the current pandemic. However, 58% of adult gamers and 80% of teen gamers reported playing more in the COVID era.

We have many factors to thank for the explosion of interest in gaming in this most unusual year. COVID lockdowns and the mercurial rise of esports are among them. The fact is, however, that (with the exception of a brief dip in the mid-’80s), the video-game industry’s revenues have trended upward since Pong first set arcades ablaze.

The driving factors have shifted

A new infographic from Visual Capitalist traces the rise of gaming revenue from the early 1970s to the present.

Click on the image to see the full-size version. Infographic courtesy of

Omri Wallach wrote the accompanying article. He says: “We’re already far past the point of gaming being the biggest earning media sector, with an estimated $165 billion revenue generated in 2020.”

Wallach further notes that “while the tidal wave of gaming has only continued to swell, the driving factors have shifted over the course of gaming history.”

As the infographic shows, arcade games dominated the nascent market. Then came consoles, PC gaming, and handhelds. “It was the rise of the internet and mobile, however, that grew the gaming industry from tens of billions to hundreds of billions in revenue,” Wallach writes.

Indeed, by 2020 mobile games had generated some US$85 billion, just over half of the industry’s total revenue. Thank you, Candy Crush!

You can read Wallach’s full article on the Visual Capitalist website.

Interested in learning more about the history of electronic gaming? Watch the Netflix documentary series High Score. For a deeper dive, read the World Video Game Hall of Fame‘s A History of Video Games in 64 Objects. (Check out our review here.)

I have done a lot of different things over the course of my life and professional career. I have interviewed Oscar and Grammy winners and written cover stories for glossy newsstand magazines. I have played guitar in a rock band on national TV and run an independent music label for which I wrote all of the PR and marketing materials. In my spare time, I sweated out a novel about a world where raccoons are kings and dragons are real.

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