A nation of Gamers

With more time on our hands these days, gaming has never been more in demand, and its popularity has earned itself a seat next to other big hitters in the entertainment industry like music and video.

With such a wide variety of games to choose from, from the likes of Animal Crossing to FIFA, and different genres such as ‘action’ and ‘MMORPG’ (massively multimedia online role-playing games), there’s something that will appeal to nearly anyone. We explored just how infatuated the nation is with gaming.

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The nation’s favourite hobbies

With well-crafted storylines and stunning graphic design, gaming provides people with a welcome escape from the pressures of everyday life. This could be why 52% of Brits play video games. The survey data revealed that almost 1 in 10 Brits confess to being “avid gamers” and 43% of people state that they game in their free time (but don’t consider themselves to be hardcore gamers). However, some people aren’t so taken with gaming, with 42% admitting they have no interest in picking up a console.

The arrival of a global pandemic meant that people have been spending more time at home, seeking new ways to stay entertained. And it’s clear to see that Brits enjoy a bit of virtual racing, shooting or automobile theft in their free time, as gaming came second to watching TV (56%) on the list of favourite hobbies. Our survey revealed that gaming (52%) is almost 4 times as popular as socialising with friends (14%). It also beat other recreational activities like reading books (37%), playing music (28%), and cooking and baking (25%). It turns out baking banana bread really can’t compete with becoming the guardian of a pixilated world!

The nation's pastimes infographic

The nation’s favourite gaming device

The increased demand for gaming over the years means there’s now a whole host of devices that people can game on. From console gaming, on the likes of a PlayStation, Xbox or a Nintendo Switch console, to tapping on a phone screen or slamming keys on a PC, we wanted to find out which is the most popular amongst Brits.

So, which device do most Brits own? According to our survey, a quarter of Brits own a PlayStation, 21% own a gaming PC and 18% own an Xbox. And it’s not surprising that Xbox and PlayStation are the most popular consoles in the UK. In 2014, both hit peak sales figures, with PlayStation selling over 1.26 million PS4 consoles1 and Xbox selling 1.07 million Xbox One consoles2 in the UK alone. Plus, with the latest PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles causing a frenzy, it won’t be long before they’re chasing those numbers.

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Gamers around the country

So, if we are a nation of gamers, which city is home to the most dedicated gaming fans? Well, Southampton takes the title of Gamer Central, with 16% of residents stating that they are avid gamers, followed by Plymouth (14%) and Norwich (14%). On the other hand, almost 60% of Sheffield residents declared that they don’t play video games and have no interest in doing so. It also turns out that Brightonians are the most casual gamers, with 31% saying they give their chosen gaming device a whiz on the odd occasion.

While people can dabble and experiment with different gaming devices, there’s always one device that evokes a sense of loyalty. Our survey unearthed what the preferred gaming devices are in each city. It turns out PC gamers can expect to find solidarity with other PC enthusiasts in Brighton, with 23% choosing it as their favoured device, alongside Bristol (16%) and Belfast (12%). Southampton residents (16%) (home to the most avid gamers) on the other hand tends to swing towards PlayStation, along with London (18%), Birmingham (18%) and Manchester (14%). While Plymouth (21%), Liverpool (17%) and Cardiff (14%) are homes to Xbox gamers. And proving that gaming sub-groups can co-exist peacefully, 14% of Norwich residents say they prefer both Xbox and PlayStation equally.

Top console by region infographic

Who spends the most on games

Any hobby has initial start-up costs and requires investment over time, and gaming is no different. From the games and consoles themselves, to a comfortable chair, decent TV or monitor and headphones, a lot goes into creating the ultimate gaming experience.

Our survey unearthed that over 1 in 10 people are willing to spend over £100 a year on games and gaming equipment. Gen Z (16-25-year-olds) are willing to cough up the big bucks on their passion, with 10% admitting that they’ll fork out up to £200 a year on gaming. And, with games being regularly released, it’s easy to see why the average Brit will spend around £32.41 on games a year – that’s a bargain!

UK gaming in numbers infographic

The most popular genres and games

The beauty of gaming is you can become any virtual persona you want, so it doesn’t matter if you want to be a bunny with a cute little island or an international football star scoring the winning goal, there is a game to suit everyone.

According to our survey, 14% of all respondents chose ‘sports’ as the most popular genre to play. Coming up closely behind in joint second place are ‘action’ (13%), ‘strategy’ (13%) and ‘casual’ (12%). Genres like ‘fighting’ and ‘platform’ didn’t stack up as well, with only 8% of respondents choosing them, making them the least favourite categories.

As the ‘sports’ genre was voted the firm favourite, it’s no surprise that FIFA games, with their stunning graphics and an extensive list of characters, ranked first as the nation’s most popular game. When not chasing a ball around a virtual pitch, ‘action’ games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto came second and third on the list of the most popular games. With the current global situation in upheaval, it’s no wonder that people would opt for games where they have full control of their own personal virtual worlds.

Methodology

This survey was conducted with a sample size of 2007 people across the UK with Censuswide.

The number of units sold for Xbox and PlayStation was collected from Statista.

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The top 10 games and genres infographic