Online Gaming: The Rise of a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry
From tabletops to virtual reality, how we play games is changing with the times.
In just a few short decades, the world of online gaming has exploded in popularity. Estimated to reach $196 billion in revenue by 2022, it is now considered to be one of the fastest growing industries on the planet.
The infographic above explores the humble beginnings of the online gaming market and dives into the technological possibilities driving its future.
The Birth of Online Gaming
Although video game prototypes were created by scientists as early as the 1950s, the very first gaming console was not introduced to consumers until the ‘70s. Subsequently, use of online games began to proliferate in the ‘90s as a result of widespread internet adoption.
- 1990s: Online gaming rapidly gains popularity due to the increasing availability of the internet
- 2003: Digital storefront Steam launches, allowing gamers to buy and review games online
- 2004: World of Warcraft launches, the first massively multiplayer online (MMO) to eclipse more than 10 million active subscriptions
- 2007: Online gaming starts shifting to mobile
- 2009: Minecraft launches and becomes one of the best selling video games in history with 176 million copies sold
- 2009: Apple announces In-app Purchase feature for iPhone apps
- 2015: 1.5 billion gamers around the world
- 2016: Augmented reality game Pokémon Go is launched, generating the most revenue grossed by any mobile game in its first month.
- 2019: Google releases Stadia, a cloud gaming service that allows gamers to play without a console
It is clear that technological innovation plays a huge role in fueling the evolution of online gaming, but there are also several other factors at play.
The Components of Online Gaming
In the world of gaming, there is often confusion between commonly used terms such as “online gaming” and “esports”—when in fact esports is just one segment that sits within the enormous online gaming ecosystem:
- Distributors and Retailers: Platforms that distribute and sell games
- Streaming Services: Services that allow users to livestream games
- Hardware Developers: Companies that build the electronic infrastructure required to play games
- Gaming Arenas: Venues that host gaming events
- Esports: Organized, multiplayer video game competitions, typically between professional players
- Software Developers: Develop applications that allow users to do specific tasks
- Game Publishers: Companies that finance and distribute games
- Game Developers: Studios that develop games
This ecosystem creates dozens of revenue streams for the industry as a whole. For every one of these channels, the shift to mobile gaming presents significant opportunities for growth.
Mobile: The Future of Gaming
Mobile is the largest gaming platform, producing $68.5 billion in revenue in 2019—45% of the total market that also includes PC and tablet gaming.
Although still a relatively new segment of the industry, mobile gaming has developed at an astonishing rate, with 2.4 billion people playing games on mobile in 2019. Part of mobile’s breakneck growth can be attributed to an innovative and seamless user experience which relies on engaging features such as in-app purchases and loyalty rewards.
With the 5G era quickly descending upon us, these pocket-sized game consoles could transform online gaming, and make the industry even more exciting.
Towards a New Age of Entertainment
As the number of players continues to grow, it is clear that the technological possibilities of online gaming are endless. Some are already beginning to take shape:
With industry leaders such as Oculus and Valve announcing cheaper headset options, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality is becoming more accessible for mass markets, and the pace could pick up further in 2020.
Cloud gaming takes advantage of faster, more reliable internet connections by giving gamers the ability to stream games rather than playing on a console.
In the future, games could automatically generate game content that is customized to fit each player’s personality and playstyle, based on their player data.
As these technologies develop, they alter the way users experience games, and provide new opportunities for brands and advertisers to tap into enhanced viewer engagement.
Many industry players will thrive in this new environment, while others will fall by the wayside. Who will emerge victorious, and lead us into the future of entertainment?
The World’s Top 50 Influencers Across Social Media Platforms
Which influencers have the most total social media followers? We tally up follower counts across all major platforms, from Twitter to TikTok.
Visualizing the World’s Top 50 Influencers
In the modern digital world, social media reach is power.
The people with the most followers on Twitter, for example, have a massive platform to spread their messages, while those with large, engaged followings on Instagram are an advertiser’s dream sponsor partner.
Social media can also be an equalizer of power. It’s true that many celebrities boast large followings across platforms, but social media has also enabled previously unknown personalities to turn YouTube or TikTok fame into veritable star power and influence.
Who has the biggest reach across the entire social media universe? Instead of looking at who has the most followers on Instagram, Twitter, or other networks, we ranked the most-followed personalities across all major platforms combined.
Who Has the Most Overall Followers on Social Media?
We parsed through hundreds of the most-followed accounts on multiple platforms to narrow down the top influencers across social media as of April 2021.
Sources include trackers of the most followers on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and TikTok, verified directly on site and with social media tracker Socialblade.
The results? A top 50 list of social media influencers consisting of athletes, musicians, politicians, and other personalities.
|Rank||Name||Category||Total Followers||Biggest Platform|
|#6||Dwayne Johnson||Film & TV||342M|
|#16||Ellen DeGeneres||Film & TV||254M|
|#20||Will Smith||Film & TV||217M|
|#26||Kevin Hart||Film & TV||191M|
|#31||Vin Diesel||Film & TV||176M|
|#39||Whindersson Nunes Batista||Other||144M|
|#41||Akshay Kumar||Film & TV||140M|
|#43||Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg||Gaming||139M||Youtube|
|#46||Deepika Padukone||Film & TV||137M|
|#48||Salman Khan||Film & TV||134M|
|#49||Priyanka Chopra||Film & TV||129M|
Unsurprisingly, celebrities reign supreme on social media. As of April 2021, soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was the most-followed person on social media with almost 500 million total followers.
But there are other illuminating highlights, such as the global reach of music. With large and diverse fanbases, artists account for half of the top 50 largest social media followings.
Also notable is the power of Instagram, which was the biggest platform for 67% of the top 50 social media influencers. This includes hard-to-categorize celebrities like the Kardashians and Jenners, which turned reality TV and social media fame into business and media empires.
Download the Generational Power Report (.pdf)
The Most Followers on Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube
However, it’s not only celebrities that dominate social media.
Personalities that started on one social media platform and developed massive followings include TikTok’s most-followed star Charli D’Amelio and YouTubers Whindersson Nunes Batista, Germán Garmendia, and Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg.
Politicians were also prominent influencers. Former U.S. President Barack Obama has the most followers on Twitter, and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has more than 175 million followers across social media.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump would have also made the list with more than 140 million followers across social media before being banned from multiple platforms on January 8, 2021.
A Generational Look at Social Media Influence
While older generations have had to adapt to social media platforms, younger generations have grown up alongside them. As a measure of cultural importance, this gives Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z a rare leg-up on older generations.
Millennials, in particular, hold the lion’s share of spots in this top 50 list:
|Generation||# of Influencers in Generation||Top Influencer in Generation|
|Gen Z||4||Kylie Jenner|
|Gen X||10||Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson|
|Baby Boomer||3||Ellen DeGeneres|
The average age of the top 50 influencers was just over 37.
In our Generational Power Index (GPI), which measures the share of power generations hold in various categories, digital platforms were a key area where Millennials derived their power and influence. Overall, Baby Boomers—and to a lesser extent, Gen X—still run the show in most areas of society today.
Social Media Influence, Going Forward
As most fans and advertisers know, not all social media accounts and followings are homogenous.
Many influencers with relatively small followings have more consistent engagement, and are often able to demand high advertising fees as a result.
Conversely, most social media platforms are reckoning with a severe glut of fake accounts or bots that inflate follower counts, impacting everything from celebrities and politicians to personalities and businesses.
Regardless, social media has become a mainstay platform (or soapbox) for today’s cultural influencers. Billions of people turn to social media for news, engagement, recommendations, and entertainment, and new platforms are always on the rise.
Which U.S. Generation Wields the Most Cultural Power?
Visual Capitalist’s first-ever Generational Power Index looks at which U.S. generation holds the most cultural influence in American society.
Which U.S. Generation Wields the Most Cultural Power?
This year, our team put together Visual Capitalist’s inaugural Generational Power Index (GPI), which looks at power dynamics across generations in America.
We considered three categories in our quest to quantify power: economics, political, and cultural. And while it turns out Baby Boomers dominate when it comes to economics and political factors—cultural influence is a different story.
Here’s a look at which U.S. generation holds the most cultural power, and how this power dynamic is expected to shift in the coming years.
Generations and Power, Defined
Before we get started, it’s important to clarify which generations we’ve included in our research, along with their age and birth year ranges.
|Generation||Age range (years)||Birth year range|
|The Silent Generation||76 and over||1928-1945|
|Gen Alpha||8 and below||2013-present|
Using these age groups as a framework, we then calculated the Cultural Power category using these distinct equally-weighted variables:
With this methodology in mind, here’s how the Cultural Power category shakes out, using insights from the GPI.
Share of Cultural Power by Generation
Overall, we found that Gen X captures the largest share of cultural power, at 36%.
|Generation||Cultural Power Share|
|The Silent Generation||8.8%|
*Note: figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
Gen X is particularly dominant in the film and TV industry, along with news media. For instance, over half of America’s largest news corporations have a Gen Xer as their CEO, and roughly 50% of Oscar winners in 2020 were members of Gen X.
Baby Boomers come in second place, capturing a 25% share of cultural power. They show particular dominance in traditional entertainment like books and art. For example, 42% of the authors on the NYT’s best-selling books list were Baby Boomers.
However, these older generations fall short in one critical category—digital platforms.
The Dominance of Digital
Why is digital so important when it comes to cultural power? Because digital media becoming increasingly more popular than traditional media sources (e.g. TV, radio).
In 2020, Americans spent nearly 8 hours per day consuming digital media, nearly two hours more per day than they spent with traditional media.
This divide is expected to grow even further over the next few years. With younger generations dominating the digital space, Gen X may soon lose its place as the top dog of the culture category.
Celebrity 2.0: The Social Influencer
As audiences flock to online channels, advertisers have followed suit—and they’re willing to spend good money to gain access to their target demographics.
In fact, spend on influencer marketing has steadily increased in the last five years, and it’s expected to reach $13.8 billion by the end of 2021.
This shift to social media advertising is redefining the notion of celebrity, and who reaps the financial benefits of content creation. For instance, six-year-old Vlogger Like Nastya made an estimated $7.7 million per month from her YouTube channel in 2020. And keep in mind, this estimate is purely based on YouTube revenue—it doesn’t even include corporate partnerships and/or merchandise sales.
With all these shifts occurring, culture as we know it is at a crossroads. And as we continue to move towards a digital dominant society, those who hold power in traditional realms will either adapt or pass along the torch.
Download the Generational Power Report (.pdf)
Money2 months ago
Visualized: The Richest Families in America
Misc1 month ago
Visualized: Comparing the Titanic to a Modern Cruise Ship
Misc1 month ago
A Visual Guide to Human Emotion
Misc2 weeks ago
Figures of Speech: 40 Ways to Improve your Writing
Energy4 weeks ago
Visualizing the Power Consumption of Bitcoin Mining
Misc4 weeks ago
These Powerful Maps Show the Extremes of U.S. Population Density
Markets1 month ago
Mapped: The Top 10 Billionaire Cities
Markets1 week ago
Visualizing the Recent Explosion in Lumber Prices