Two out of three people in Scandinavia play digital games, typically on their smartphones. Gaming has become an integral part of our lives, and there is no longer such a thing as a typical gamer.

Flashback to teenagers in the 1980s saving up money to buy a Commodore 64 or an Amiga 500 computer with a floppy disk drive. Flashback to the LAN parties of the 1990s where players would gather in the same physical location and connect their computers to a local area network. Flashback to the rise in online games in the 2000s, to the smartphone games of the 2010s. Now in 2022, there are thousands of available online games to entertain yourself or to kill time.

Gaming as a phenomenon has certainly changed over the years, and today it is far removed from gaming in past decades. More and more people are engaging in games, across age groups and gender.

Gaming is more widespread even after the peak of the pandemic

Surprisingly, gaming activity did not decrease after the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic: this year 33 per cent of respondents say that they play games daily, up from 31 per cent in last year’s survey.

Figure 28. Daily gaming
Below is a list of activities that you may do on your devices. Which, if any, of these do you do at least once a day?

From a recent Deloitte US survey on media trends, we also know that gaming leads to more user-generated video content for social media and streaming services. Among frequent gamers, every month 45 per cent watch others stream their gameplay; 38 per cent stream their gameplay; and 49 per cent watch videos about gaming tips, cheats and tutorials.1

Older generations play more than you think

The fact that time spent on gaming decreases with age is probably not a surprise to most people. What may be a surprise, however, is that older generations are not as far behind as you might think.

Not only do older generations still play games, they do so relatively frequently. For example, people aged 65-75 are only half as likely as those 18-24 to play games ever (40 per cent compared to 82 per cent), and 25 per cent of 65–75-year-olds are daily gamers compared to 40 per cent of 18-24 year-olds.

Figure 29. Frequency of gaming: Age
Gaming in general: Which, if any, of the following types of games do you play on any device? (Respondents who chose any game)
Daily gaming: Below is a list of activities that you may do on your devices. Which, if any, of these do you do at least once a day? (Respondents who chose “Play games”)

The data show that the myths of the teenage gamer and the occasional adult wasting time belong to the past. Today, gaming – even daily gaming – spans all age groups.

Another myth that should be dispelled is that gaming is only for men. In fact, the opposite is true. Today, more women play games than men, largely smartphone games, and the gap is slightly wider in 2022 than it was in 2021. Not only are these findings interesting from a societal viewpoint: they are also valuable knowledge in a commercial context since many gaming platforms are used for advertising. With more women playing games today than ever before, marketers across all industries can engage with both male and female consumers in innovative ways, while creating immersive digital experiences for their target audience to build brand awareness and boost sales.

Figure 30. Daily gaming: Gender
Below is a list of activities that you may do on your devices. Which, if any, of these do you do at least once a day? (Respondents who chose “Play games”)

Smartphones are winning, but consoles are still in the game

Not surprisingly, the smartphone is the most-used device for playing video games. They are more than twice as popular as any other device. 56 per cent of respondents use their smartphone for regular gaming. Games consoles come in second, with 25 per cent of respondents using them regularly. 18 per cent use a laptop computer, 17 per cent use tablets, and only 7 per cent use a portable gaming device.

Figure 31. Devices used for gaming
Which, if any, of the following devices do you play video games on regularly?

Interestingly, only 5 per cent of Scandinavian respondents say that they use a VR headset regularly for gaming. This suggests that this device has not become as widely adopted as some people expected just a few years ago, when they were introduced with heavy media coverage.

Also, when looking at the preferred device for gaming (as opposed to the device actually used), the smartphone seems unbeatable: 40 per cent of respondents now say that they prefer the smartphone, up from 34 per cent in 2018 and the numbers have risen steadily over the years.

Figure 32. Preferred device for gaming: Yearly development
Which, if any, is your preferred device for each of the following activities? (Play games)

Despite the popularity of smartphones, other devices are still used, especially computers (laptops and desktops) and game consoles which are preferred by 20 and 18 per cent of respondents respectively. Games consoles have been growing in popularity over the years, but the use of tablets is gradually declining.

As mentioned in Deloitte’s TMT Predictions 2022, games consoles celebrate their 50th birthday in 2022 in robust health, with record revenues, a full slate of latest-generation devices and a strong foundation for further growth. It is also predicted that the console market will generate revenues of USD81 billion in 2022, up 10 per cent from 2021. Revenues per console player (close to one billion worldwide) are expected to average USD92 per person, substantially more than the projected USD23 per PC gamer and USD50 per mobile gamer.2

The good news for Scandinavian console players is that due to the commercial attractiveness of the market, companies are likely to continue to expand content and user experiences. Already, innovations have transformed the console market from one based on final products generating one-off sales to a perpetual and evolving entertainment ecosystem that encourages daily, multiplayer gameplay.

A final spur to console game growth is its increasing integration with mobile devices. Historically games have been designed for a specific device only, but console titles are now being integrated with complementary smartphone apps, allowing players to play the same game from both devices. An early example of console-mobile integration is Call of Duty, one of the most popular multiplayer console franchises. This franchise has introduced a mobile version of its games, designed to keep people playing while away from their big screen. According to one estimate, the mobile version alone has reached 200 million active users worldwide,3 which is about half the estimated 400 million people who have played the game on a console.4

Simple games have the biggest volumes of users

In the beginning of 2022, it was announced that Wordle, the simple daily game in which players get six chances to guess a five-letter word, had been acquired by the New York Times, thereby continuing the legacy of its crossword puzzle that was first introduced in 1942.5 For many, it showed that gaming has become so deeply integrated into everyday life that even a renowned media brand wants to use it to keep subscribers engaged and entertained.

In our survey, we see the same trend: simple casual games emerge as the clear winners of the gaming popularity contest, while complex games based on strategy are only in fifth place.

Figure 33. Types of games played
Which, if any, of the following types of games do you play on any device?

Behind these numbers, however, are big differences across age groups and gender. Overall, women are more than twice as likely to play casual games, while men are four times more likely than women to prefer action or adventure games. Women also favour card games compared to men, and more men favour strategy games compared to women.

Figure 34. Types of games: Gender
Which, if any, of the following types of games do you play on any device?

When it comes to age groups, we also see different preferences. Younger age groups prefer action and strategy games, middle-aged groups prefer casual and word games, and older groups prefer card games – an indication of the strategic reasoning behind the New York Times buying a simple word game to cater to intellectual, knowledgeable, middle-aged consumers with purchasing power and time to spare.

Figure 35. Types of games: Age
Which, if any, of the following types of games do you play on any device?

It is fun to play – but are we obsessed?

While the popularity of gaming is surely good news for the gaming industry – and good news for gamers constantly seeking new experiences – there are also some concerns about the widespread use of gaming.

Gaming among adults may be seen by some people as a childish way to kill time instead of doing more fruitful activities or simply getting on with work. In our survey, we asked respondents about the downsides of gaming. The responses were not alarming, but some console gamers (from 6 to 16 per cent) feel that gaming is taking up too much of their time, making them stay up too late, or game at inconvenient times, for example during meals or early in the morning.

Figure 36. Gaming console statements
Thinking about the following statements, which of the following devices does it apply to, if any? (Respondents who choose “Gaming console”)

On the other hand, game companies have also become interactive social media services. In a recent Deloitte US study, when asked about the factors that were important in their gaming experience, more than half of the respondents said that having positive interactions with other players and being able to personalise game characters or avatars were important. Other factors in the responses were chatting or socialising with other players and meeting up with friends online to play together.6

The US survey comments that despite the various potential downsides, younger generations especially have grown up connecting with other people through digital networks, engaging with digital and interactive entertainment and relating to the world through a social lens. Gaming is meeting these expectations with unique immersive experiences.

An ever-evolving industry

Many gamers today are far too young to remember a Commodore 64 computer, but those who do may have nostalgic memories of a time when the digital revolution was just starting. Few people then probably understood its impact – and few probably foresaw how profoundly human life was about to change within a single generation.

Today, gaming and game-related content, such as live streams and video, continue to compete for entertainment time. For example, in this year’s survey 24 per cent of respondents say that they watch professional e-sports competitions, and 8 per cent watch them at least once a week. Gaming has evolved over the past decade, and the evolution is likely to continue in the coming years with renewed investment in creative content development, and new global blockbusters emerging.

The metaverse is looming on the horizon, as the next significant shift in how we use digital technologies and networks to interact with others and enjoy virtual experiences.7

The metaverse is not a single technology or device. It is a convergence of several separate technologies, all of which are maturing rapidly for mainstream use. Together, these technologies can create experiences in a three-dimensional environment where users interact – and play games – with other users as if they are in a shared space.

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) or ‘crypto collectibles’ are also gaining momentum, not just within digital art, but also in gaming.8 NFT tokens can help gamers take complete ownership of their assets, for example skins, themes and achievements.9 And with real digital ownership powered by blockchain technology, players are able not only to own these assets but also to sell them to other players and monetise their value in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

However, the use of NFTs has led to a backlash among some people in the gaming community, who argue that blockchain technology essentially relies on creating some form of artificial scarcity, which is incompatible with the basic principles of gaming.10 Some gamers are also concerned about the carbon footprint of these technologies,11 especially the huge energy consumption of the “proof of work” system.

These concerns are not likely to stop developers from experimenting with blockchain technology and NFTs in gaming, but they should be implemented with transparency, fairness and with concern for the environment, and they should bring meaningful value to society.


Jonas Malmlund

Partner, Head of Technology, Media & Telecommunications in Deloitte Sweden and in the Nordics, Deloitte Sweden

+46 73 397 13 03

Frederik Behnk

Head of Technology, Media & Telecommunications in Deloitte Denmark

+45 30 93 44 26

Joachim Gullaksen

Head of Technology, Media & Telecommunications in Deloitte Norway

+47 905 34 970

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