Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the US Gaming Retail market, including the behaviors, preferences and habits of the consumer.

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that consumers have had more time to play video games throughout 2020 and into 2021. The release of the newest generation of video games consoles has seen a further boost in sales, with the pandemic only causing minor supply chain disruption. 2/3rds of video game players have reported buying a video game in the past six months, with 98% of game purchasers playing games themselves.

Video game sales continue to climb, with gamers looking for invest in higher-quality gameplay. While free-to-play games remain largely popular among gamers, video game players are just as likely to play purchased games as free games. With most gamers already knowing what games they want to play, price remains the most important factor in where people buy these games. Retailers will need to emphasize their gaming stock, as well as the high-quality of their offerings in order to differentiate themselves.

There is a potential for the resale market to make a comeback, with further possibilities of digital-resale platforms as more and more gamers move towards digital purchases over physical copies.

Read on to discover more details or take a look at all of our US Technology market research.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the video game retail market.
  • The impact of free games and next-generation consoles on video game sales.
  • Where people purchase games and how that’s changing.
  • How to overcome retailer indifference among video game purchasers.

Covered in this report

Game Genres: Puzzle games, digital board games, digital card games, action / adventure games, shooters, racing games, trivia games, sports games, role-playing games, battle royale games, open-world games, nostalgic games.

Retail Brands: GameStop, Amazon, Steam, Epic Games Store, PlayStation Store, Apple (App Store, Apple Arcade), Google Play, Target, Wallmart, Best Buy, Twitch.

Video Game Brands: Sony (PlayStation), Microsoft (XBox), Nintendo.

Video Game Titles: The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Animal Crossing, Cyberpunk 2077, Call of Duty, Candy Crush, Fortnite, League of Legends.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by John Poelking, a leading analyst in the Technology sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Gaming is firmly in the spotlight of mainstream pop culture, which will help continue a streak of strong video game sales into the near future. Video game purchasers don’t really care where they buy a game as long as they are able to get the game they want for a fair price. Digital storefronts will be a cornerstone for gaming retail, but many players still have a fondness for physical discs and the brick-and-mortar experience.

John Poelking
Senior Gaming Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
    • COVID-19: market context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Gaming revenue, global vs US, 2016-20 (est)
    • Impact of COVID-19 on gaming retail
      • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on free and paid video games, January 2021
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Reach out to the gamers directly
      • Figure 3: Types of games purchased, all adults vs all gamers, November 2020
    • Digital stores aim straight for players’ needs
      • Figure 4: Online vs in-store purchases, November 2020
    • Players are willing to spend on quality games
      • Figure 5: Amount spent on video games, November 2020
    • Buyers are decisive, but have no sense of urgency
      • Figure 6: Gaming purchase behaviors – Retailer indifference, November 2020
    • Utilize resale market to provide more value
      • Figure 7: Attitudes toward the value of new and used games, November 2020
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • Video game sales continue to rise
    • More than two thirds of adults play video games
    • Smartphone, console games drive global growth
    • Retail slowdown shifts focus to ecommerce revenue
    • Retailers can find value in new narratives and old games
  4. Market Size

    • Gaming revenue growth accelerates in 2020
      • Figure 8: Gaming revenue, global vs US, 2016-20 (est)
    • Gaming forecast indicators
      • Figure 9: Key drivers affecting Mintel’s market forecast, 2019-25 (prepared in December 2020)
    • Impact of COVID-19 on gaming retail
      • Figure 10: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on free and paid video games, January 2021
    • Lockdown
    • Re-emergence
    • Recovery
    • Learnings from the last recession
    • In-home entertainment becomes a higher priority during economic uncertainty
      • Figure 11: Consumer spending on leisure and entertainment, by market segments, at current prices, 2000-25
    • People kept buying games but in smaller quantities
      • Figure 12: Number of games bought in the past 12 months, 2008-11
  5. Target Audience – The US Gamer

    • Who are gamers?
      • Figure 13: Profile of US gamers, by key demographics, November 2020
    • Mobile attracts the largest audience
      • Figure 14: Gaming devices used, November 2020
    • Gaming is a daily habit
      • Figure 15: Frequency of gaming and weekly hours, November 2020
    • Casual gaming is common
      • Figure 16: Reasons to play video games, November 2020
    • Puzzle and board games have the largest audience
      • Figure 17: Preferred gaming genres – Any rank, October 2020
  6. Global Segment Performance

    • Growth in key gaming segments signals promising sales in the future
    • Mobile gaming
    • Console gaming
    • PC gaming
      • Figure 18: Global gaming revenue, by market segment, 2019 vs 2020 (est)
  7. Market Factors

    • Gaming will have more competition from other entertainment
      • Figure 19: Changes in entertainment consumption due to COVID-19, October 2020
    • Retail recovery could take a few years
      • Figure 20: Total US retail sales and forecast, including ecommerce, at current prices, 2015-25
    • eCommerce makes up small portion of retail, but will continue to grow
      • Figure 21: eCommerce share of total US retail sales, 2015-25
    • Gaming spending a small, but growing, part of ecommerce
      • Figure 22: eCommerce sales, all vs computer/video game software and audio/video recordings, 2016 and 2018
    • COVID-19 has changed how people purchase games, especially for boxed PC players and gaming subscribers
      • Figure 23: Impact of COVID-19 on gaming purchases, by type of gaming purchase, November 2020
    • Shift to free-to-play hurts interest in purchases, services
      • Figure 24: Attitudes toward free games and gaming services, 2019 vs 2020
  8. Market Opportunities

    • Retailers and gaming companies can create mutually beneficial relationships
    • Put game creators in the spotlight
    • Expand on traditional retail holidays to make room for new ones
      • Figure 25: GameStop Cyber Weekend Instagram post, September 2020
    • Exclusive titles will become a greater selling point
    • Find ways to encourage a digital resale market
  9. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Online retail drives gaming purchases
    • Key retailers differentiate on exclusives and convenience
    • Entertainment ecosystems make for a valuable offer
  10. Market Share

    • Downloads dominate discs in a digital world
      • Figure 26: Physical discs vs digital downloads, November 2020
    • Online purchases are the most common route
      • Figure 27: Online vs in-store purchases, November 2020
  11. Key Retailers

    • Amazon
      • Figure 28: Amazon Luna Twitter post, December 2020
    • Digital stores
      • Figure 29: PlayStation Store Call of Duty banner ad, November 2020
    • Electronics retailers
      • Figure 30: GameStop Facebook ads, 2020
    • Mass merchandisers
  12. Competitive Strategies

    • A steady stream of free games to bring in users
      • Figure 31: Epic Games Store “Keep It Forever” banner ads, May and June 2020
    • Utilizing gaming ecosystems to bring convenience, value
    • Creating more equitable revenue sharing with gaming creators
    • Pop-ups can spur excitement for new releases
  13. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Nearly everyone who buys video games is a player
    • Gaming buyers are spending big
    • Retailers that deliver good prices, convenience stand out
    • Social media conversations inform players about new games
    • Retailers need to create a sense of urgency
    • The value in used games is underutilized in digital gaming retail
    • Segmentation highlights unique opportunities among game purchasers
  14. Video Game Purchases

    • Game purchases represent market preferences
    • Cheap mobile games make for quick investments
    • The digital/disc dichotomy flips for PC and console gamers
      • Figure 32: Types of games purchased, November 2020
    • Gamers are the ones buying the games
      • Figure 33: Types of games purchased, all adults vs all gamers, November 2020
    • Device crossover shows lack of limitations for what people will purchase
      • Figure 34: Types of games purchased, by type of game purchased, November 2020
    • Most people are giving the gift of games to themselves
      • Figure 35: Who video games were purchased for, by type of game purchased, November 2020
  15. Spending on Video Games

    • High prices may not deter gamers seeking quality
      • Figure 36: Attitudes toward the cost of games, November 2020
    • Most buyers drop big bucks on games
      • Figure 37: Amount spent on video games, November 2020
    • Large households invest in different interests
      • Figure 38: Amount spent on video games, by number of children in the household, November 2020
  16. Where People Buy Video Games

    • Players don’t need to buy from a variety of stores
      • Figure 39: Number of gaming retailers shopped, November 2020
    • Digital stores create convenient paths for all gamers
    • Mobile: Large libraries of inexpensive games
    • Console: PlayStation delivers exclusives to large audience
    • PC: Steam holds edge over Epic Games Store
      • Figure 40: Gaming retailers – Digital stores, November 2020
    • Amazon dominates, while specialty retailers appeal to gamers
      • Figure 41: Gaming retailers – Major retailers, November 2020
    • Price, game availability are primary deciding factors for retailers
      • Figure 42: Factors for deciding gaming retailers – Ranked, November 2020
    • Online purchases preferred at most gaming retailers
      • Figure 43: Gaming purchase behaviors – Online purchases and retailer variety, November 2020
  17. Video Game Purchase Influencers

    • Social media is important, but not all social is created equal
      • Figure 44: Video game purchase influencers – Social media, November 2020
    • Influential gaming generations seek out different social outlets
      • Figure 45: Video game purchase influencers – Social media, by Gen Z and Millennials, November 2020
    • Twitter users listen before they buy
      • Figure 46: The impact of word of mouth on gaming purchases, by social media platform used, November 2020
    • Formal sources, word of mouth don’t connect as much
      • Figure 47: Video game purchase influencers – Other influencers, November 2020
  18. Video Game Purchase Behaviors and Preferences

    • Most buyers don’t need a new game right away
      • Figure 48: Gaming purchase behaviors – Waiting for new games, November 2020
    • Impact of free games has lessened the need to purchase games
      • Figure 49: Gaming purchase behaviors – Free vs paid games, November 2020
    • Gender highlights difference in browsing, spending behaviors
      • Figure 50: Gaming purchase behaviors – Browsing and free games, by gender, November 2020
  19. Attitudes toward Gaming Retail

    • Urgency is not much of a factor in gaming purchases
      • Figure 51: Attitudes toward urgency and preference in retailer, November 2020
    • Players look to new games but they’re happy holding on for a long time
      • Figure 52: Attitudes toward the cost of games, November 2020
    • Digital download distrust can hamper online market
      • Figure 53: Attitudes toward digital games, November 2020
  20. Gaming Retail Consumer Segments

    • Factors
      • Figure 54: Video game purchaser segmentation, November 2020
    • Retro Retrievers (36%)
    • Demographics
    • Characteristics
    • Opportunities
      • Figure 55: Profile of Retro Retrievers, November 2020
    • Disc Jockeys (31%)
    • Demographics
    • Characteristics
    • Opportunities
      • Figure 56: Profile of Disc Jockeys, November 2020
    • Digital Darlings (18%)
    • Demographics
    • Characteristics
    • Opportunities
      • Figure 57: Profile of Digital Darlings, November 2020
    • Bargain Hunters (15%)
    • Demographics
    • Characteristics
    • Opportunities
      • Figure 58: Profile of Bargain Hunters, November 2020
  21. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.


Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.


Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.


Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.


Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our tables of data are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

Below is a sample report, understand what you are buying.

Click to show report

Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted. Also, our reports come in PDF, Powerpoint, Word and Excel Databook formats.

Trusted by companies. Big and small.

Bell Logo - Mintel client
Boots Logo - Mintel Client
Kelloggs Logo - Mintel client
Samsung Logo - Mintel client
Nike Logo - Mintel client
Walgreens Logo - Mintel client

Want to speak to us directly?

Contact us on via phone or fill out a form with your enquiry.

Contact Us