Research: 53% UK gamers watch others play online

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Video game playing rose to a new level in 2020, with UK consumers’ time playing up 4 per cent on the previous year.

The desire to stay connected and entertained while stuck at home during the pandemic has driven online gaming popularity – more than a third of UK gamers (37 per cent) have made new friends through online gaming in the last year. Gamers in the UK are now playing video games an average of seven hours 10 minutes each week according to the State of Online Gaming 2021, a report commissioned by Limelight Networks on global gaming preferences and habits.

Opportunities for interactivity and social engagement are likely drivers for video game adoption with the majority (51 per cent) of UK gamers saying they started playing online video games in the past year.

Additional findings from the report include:

  • Performance drives demand for next-generation consoles. Three quarters (74 per cent) of global gamers are interested in purchasing a new console, due to updated technology (32 per cent) and faster game play (31 per cent). Gamers in China are most likely to consider upgrading their console (92 per cent).
  • Gamers demand fast gaming experiences. Fast performance is extremely important to 35 per cent of UK gamers, the lowest response among all countries surveyed. In addition, 87 per cent of UK gamers say the process of downloading games is frustrating.
  • Binge-gaming reached an all-time high. The average global gamer has played video games consecutively for five hours and six minutes, which is a eight percent increase from last year. Sessions in the UK were 4 per cent higher than the global average, at five hours and 18 minutes per week. Young gamers ages 18 to 25 have binge-gamed for the longest at an average of nearly six hours.
  • Video games have become a spectator sport. Over half (56 per cent) of global gamers say they’ve started to watch others play video games in the past year. The proportion of UK gamers watching others play video games online on a weekly basis reached a tipping point in the past year, increasing from 49 per cent to 53 per cent.
  • Playing video games is the top entertainment choice for many.  Nearly half of UK gamers (44 per cent) say they prefer to play video games versus watching a movie or TV show.

“Video gaming has evolved into a social platform. Gamers want interactive, high performance, disruption-free experiences that allow them to connect with others and play longer,” said Nigel Burmeister, Vice President at Limelight Networks. “This evolution is putting pressure on gaming companies to match this demand and requires technology investments like edge computing to deliver high-quality gaming environments to users across the globe.”

The State of Online Gaming 2021 report is based on responses from 4,000 consumers in China, Germany, India, Indonesia, South Korea, the UK, the US and Vietnam, ages 18 and older who play video games. This included 500 respondents in the UK.


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