Video games began to gain popularity in the 1980s, but the number of people playing was much smaller than it is today. In fact, at that time, it was much more popular to play video games in arcades rather than at home. Now, the tables have turned, and the industry has skyrocketed in terms of both the number of players and the money generated. A chart has been published showing the evolution of video game revenues over 52 years, from 1970 to 2022.
The origin of video games is a matter of debate among enthusiasts, depending on how one defines a game itself. The popular answer is usually “Tennis for Two,” which can be considered the first video game and used an oscilloscope. Later came the first home console, the Magnavox Odyssey, released in 1972, which shared the design of future consoles. That same year, Pong also emerged as a landmark video game in the industry.
Over the past 50 years, video game revenues have evolved as follows:
As we can see in the chart of video game revenue evolution, in the early 1970s, they barely made money compared to the figures they would reach later on. By 1977, Spain experienced a key moment in this industry, as the Ping-Pong game from the Polytechnic University of Madrid appeared, being the first video game developed in the country. This year was also essential since the Atari 2600 console hit stores, as well as iconic games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders.
Here we saw the first spike in console and arcade sales, but the most significant leap was in the 1980s. Pac-Man topped sales charts for three consecutive years, and arcade machines reached their peak before declining. After 1985, there was a drop in video game quality, and it wasn’t until 1989 when Nintendo released the Game Boy that things began to recover. The 1990s saw competition among PCs, consoles, and handhelds, with all increasing their revenues.
In 2022, the mobile market generated $101 billion, PCs $45 billion, and consoles $30 billion.
From the mid-1990s to the present, video game revenues have continually increased, marking the period when evolution and profits became more significant. The rise of smartphones cannot be overlooked in discussing the popularity of video games. Initially, it might not have seemed very important, but looking back to the first iPhone’s release (2007), the industry has made a significant leap.
Key games that contributed to substantial profits after this date include Minecraft in 2011, GTA V in 2013, and, of course, Fortnite in 2017. In fact, after this point, an even greater spike in mobile market revenues was observed, followed by PCs and consoles. After the 2020 pandemic caused a temporary decline, revenues rose to unprecedented levels, reaching about $190 billion at the beginning of 2022. The mobile market accounted for $101 billion, while PCs took in $45 billion and consoles $30 billion.
The article, “Evolution of video game revenues over the past 50 years: PC beats console, but mobiles lead,” first appeared on El Chapuzas Informático.