Image: iStockphoto/gorodenkoff

Video gamers spent about eight hours and 27 minutes each week playing games, which is an increase of 14% over 2020, according to a new worldwide survey. Limelight Networks also found that 44% play more than seven hours per week and 25% clock more than 12 hours per week.

The State of Online Gaming – 2021 survey included 4,000 people in eight countries and asked how gaming habits had changed over the last year of worldwide lockdowns due to COVID-19. For many people, online games became the place to hang out with friends when other social venues closed. Fifty-three percent of respondents said they made new friends in a game and 36% ranked interacting with other players as an important component of a game.

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About a third of the respondents said that they play five hours in a row. That snapshot of binge gaming is up 13% from the 2020 survey. All this time at the controls interferes with daily life with people most likely to give up sleep to have more time to play. About a third of respondents said they also miss showering, eating and socializing to play.

About half of the survey respondents said they play video games during work hours. This ranges from once a month (15%) to once a week (19%) to daily (14%).

This increase in game play time also helped people improve their skill level with a significant drop in people describing themselves as novices in this year’s survey. In last year’s survey, 25% of people said they were new to gaming while in the latest survey only 14% chose that label.

Most survey respondents were casual gamers at 58% with the next largest group ranking themselves as expert at 22%. Novice gamers represented 14% of the group with aspiring professionals at 6%. Gamers 46 to 60 years of age made up 29% of the survey with 18-25 year olds representing only 14%.

Survey respondents in the 18-35 age bracket said they would rather watch gamers play online than traditional sports. The survey found a clear preference across all age groups, and player types for playing video games instead of watching TV shows and movies.

Mobile games are by far the most popular type of game, followed by computer games, consoles and tablets. The survey also asked which elements of a game are most important:

  • Fast performance: 47%
  • Interesting storyline: 40%
  • Regularly updated content: 39%
  • Interacting with other players: 36%
  • Playing the game offline: 33%
  • Simple game play: 31%

Limelight’s recommendations to maximize revenue from games include:

  • Optimize the download process to make it fast and reliable
  • Minimize latency of cloud-based games by moving processing power closer to users

A research company conducted the survey for Limelight by using consumer panels in China, Germany, India, Indonesia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam. 500 responses were collected from each country for 4,000 global responses total. The survey was done between Jan. 5 and Jan. 12.