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By 2019, half of all internet users in the UK will be playing games digitally at least once a month, according to eMarketer’s first-ever UK online gaming forecast.
Digital gaming penetration, which includes mobile, social and online console gaming, will reach 48.6% of the country's internet users in 2017, equating to 26.4 million people.
The increase in online gaming has run in parallel to the rise in smartphone adoption and social networking. These cultural shifts helped bring new gaming audiences to the fore, including females and older adults.
eMarketer estimates that there will be 42.7 million smartphone users in the UK this year, which will represent almost four-fifths of internet users and 64.3% of the population. And 54.1% of those smartphone users, or 23.1 million, will play digital games on their devices at least monthly.
Online gaming isn’t just about smartphones, though. An estimated 18.4 million UK tablet users will play games on their devices in 2017. Next year, that total will reach 20 million—more than half of the country's tablet users.
“Online gaming is no longer the preserve of a core demographic made up of young, tech-savvy males,” said eMarketer senior analyst Bill Fisher. “Rising smartphone and tablet use, bolstered by social networking games, has led to greater levels of engagement across all age and gender lines. Unsurprisingly, mobile gaming is thus driving growth in this segment, an opportunity that is not lost on digital marketers.”
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