By Barry Janoff
February 14, 2017: With such titles as Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Grand Theft Auto V, Star Wars: Battlefront, FIFA 17, Madden NFL 17, Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon stoking competition, the video game industry continues to entertain a growing number of gamers and fans worldwide.
That power is reflected not just through participation but also in sales, revenue and category employment.
In 2016, the U.S. computer and video game industry hit a record $30.4 billion in revenues and $24.5 billion in sales, the former a 4.9% increase from $23.5 billion in revenues in 2015 and the latter a 48.5% growth over $16.5 billion in sales in 2015.
In addition, employment in the video game industry grew at an annual rate of 2.9%, more than double the rate of the U.S. job market, according to the just released Video Games in the 21st Century: The 2017 Report, from the Entertainment Software Assn., Washington, D.C.
The report was written by Stephen Siwek, Principal at Economists Incorporated, a research and consulting firm based in Washington D.C. and San Francisco.
According to the study, the top seven states based on employment by video game companies are based in California (36% of the total category employment in the U.S.), Washington, Texas, New York, Illinois, Florida and Massachusetts.
Sales and revenue of computer and video games in the U.S. have shown an increase over the past few years after several years of decline and/or no growth.
Video game sales were $10.1 billion in 2009 and $17.1 billion in 2010, but then declined to $16.7 billion in 2011 and a low of $15.2 billion in 2012.
Sales rose slightly in 2013 to $15.4 billion and stayed there in 2014, according to ESA, the trade association that represents the U.S. video game industry.
Video game revenue in 2014 was $22.4 billion.
Among the factors in the new boom in video games is the growing presence of e-Sports, with such category-leading platforms as the Call of Duty World League and and the League Of Legends League.
According to a recent study from eSports research and consulting firm NewZoo, San Francisco, among U.S. men ages 21-35, eSports "is as popular as baseball & ice hockey."
"The 21st Century knowledge economy demands a creative and innovative workforce," Michael Gallagher, president and CEO for ESA, said in a statement. "The interactive entertainment industry is powered by real jobs that develop the most innovative and remarkable technology and entertainment in the world."
"These high-paying, creative careers build communities all across the U.S. The data we share today details a roadmap for economic growth, and the power of cultivating high-paying, technical careers in interactive entertainment," said Gallagher.
Supporting these numbers, more than 400 U.S. colleges, universities and technical schools offer programs in video game-related topics, per ESA.
Among other findings in Video Games in the 21st Century: The 2017 Report:
• There are 2,322 video game developer locations across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. There are also 526 publisher locations across 44 states. In total, there are 2,858 video game company locations across 84% of the congressional districts in America.
• 95% of video game companies were founded in the U.S.
• There are now 65,678 workers directly employed at game software publisher and developer locations in the U.S. Of this total, U.S. video game publishers directly employ 28,556 workers while U.S. video game developers employ 37,122.
• The U.S. game company industry’s value added to U.S. GDP was more than $11.7 billion in 2015.
"(We saw that) 2016 was another enormous year for the interactive entertainment industry," said ESA’s Gallagher. "The industry’s innovative genius and ability to engage and delight billions of gamers worldwide delivered another record performance. Congratulations to the developers, storytellers, creators and investors who defined the leaderboard for entertainment."
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