Thought Gaming Was Big in 2020? 2021 Is Amped Up for More

The world’s 2.5 billion-plus gamers have plenty to look forward to. 
by Jeff Fisher

Cooking on video calls with friends. Getting to the end of Netflix’s endless content well. Going 10 months without a haircut.

Over the past year, we all found different ways to keep ourselves occupied.

Gaming, however, is a longer-term trend that promises to continue remaking global culture for years to come.

Over 2.5 billion gamers are now engaged in playing, creating, sharing and connecting with one another.

Together we watched over 100 billion hours of gaming content on YouTube — twice as much as 2018. That’s like 11 million people watching non-stop for a year.

And esports viewership is nearly half a billion people globally — up 100 million from 2018 — with another 150 million new viewers expected over the next three years.

Building on a long-term surge that has made gaming an integral part of all our lives over the past decade, market researcher Newzoo expects gaming revenue to rise 8 percent in 2021.

The Gaming Market Set New Records (Again)

And gaming revenue — projected by analysts at $175 billion last year — already towers over other global consumer entertainment markets such as music and radio, internet-based or “over the top” video of all kinds, and cinema.

There are now 2.6 billion people playing — over half the global online population.

The amount of time people played grew dramatically, with gameplay time up 26 percent in the U.S. over the past six months.

Participation on Discord — the leading real-time voice chat app for gamers — is up 2x in the past two years, with 140 million monthly active users who connect in over 4 billion minutes of conversation each day.

The Thrill of Victory

Today’s games are getting more realistic and immersive, from lifelike graphics to AI-based gameplay and realistic physics simulation.

And to play the latest titles, gamers want the latest hardware — whether a recently launched console or a PC with the latest graphics technology, NVIDIA GeForce RTX.

Two years ago, NVIDIA introduced a breakthrough in graphics — real-time ray tracing for the ultimate realism and AI-based DLSS (deep learning super sampling) to “magically” improve performance.

We named it RTX.

Together with Microsoft and top developers and game engines, we’re working to bring the visual realism of movies to fully interactive gaming.

The momentum is unstoppable. The latest consoles and the rest of the gaming ecosystem are now onboard: Ray tracing is the new standard. There are already over 30 titles with ray tracing and many more on the way. You can find a list of select titles here.

And some of the most popular games over the past few years — Minecraft, with over 200 million copies sold and 126 million people playing per month, and Fortnite, with over 350 million registered users — have introduced real-time ray tracing enhancements to their games, enabling much more realistic and immersive experiences.

New Hardware Enables Better Games

The hits keep on coming.

Cyberpunk 2077, released a few weeks ago, generated 8 million pre-orders (almost 5 million for PC), and sold 13 million copies in its first 10 days. It shattered the single-player record for number of concurrent Steam users within two hours of launch with over 1 million.

Cyberpunk 2077 is just one example of how production value of games continues to increase. Bigger worlds and cinematic graphics demand more of the GPU. A survey of GeForce gamers showed that 59 percent of GPU or PC upgrades are due to the low performance of a game they’re playing or requirements for one that they’re anticipating.

This increase in production value is evident in the latest sequels to these AAA games, where the GeForce GTX 1060, one of our most popular GPUs of all time, struggles to keep up.

For instance, gamers were playing Watch Dogs 2 (released in 2016) with high settings at 60 frames per second on a GTX 1060. But when they moved on to Watch Dogs: Legion, released in October, they only saw 24 frames per second on that system.

And turning on ray tracing to get the best visuals makes Watch Dogs: Legion virtually unplayable on a GTX 1060.

Fear not, however. The just-announced GeForce RTX 3060 based on the NVIDIA Ampere architecture brings the game back to life, at a price that makes RTX technology available to all PC gamers.

With tens of millions of GeForce GTX GPUs in use today, the upgrade opportunity is enormous. The performance gains and new features in GeForce RTX 30 Series GPUs make it a great time for all PC gamers to upgrade.

Competitive Gaming Takes Center Stage

Weekend basketball player? We already know you love the NBA. It’s no surprise, then, that hundreds of millions of video game players like to watch pros play their games, too.

There are professional leagues for top games like Counter-Strike, League of Legends and Dota 2. The stakes in these contests are serious. In 2019, the prize pool for the Dota 2 International tournament reached $34 million. That’s more than triple the $11 million prize purse for the U.S. Masters golf tournament.

When the stakes are high, quality gear matters. Response time is critical to be most competitive at esports games — typically shooters — like Counter-Strike or Fortnite. Every millisecond matters.

Esports pros and enthusiasts strive for the lowest latency — down to zero if they could get there. So NVIDIA invented Reflex to help get the latency of the system as low as possible.

NVIDIA Reflex optimizes the rendering pipeline across the CPU and GPU to reduce latency by up to 50 percent, giving gamers a precious advantage. A 20-millisecond advantage can mean the difference between winning and losing in the physical sports world and esports.

With Reflex and our Game Ready Drivers, over 100 million GeForce gamers are instantly more competitive. Fortnite, Apex Legends, Valorant and Call of Duty: Warzone were among the first to integrate Reflex technology. With this week’s announcements, seven of the top 10 competitive shooter games now support Reflex. And more are on the way.

It’s no wonder that 99 percent of esports pros play on GeForce GPUs.

You Can Take It With You

Laptops are the fastest growing gaming platform, increasing 7x in seven years. And the power of these laptops has inspired gamers to find new ways to play, whether in console mode connected to a big screen TV using a controller, or driving an ultra-wide monitor with a keyboard and mouse.

Laptop PCs were flying off shelves so fast last year, manufacturers couldn’t keep up with demand. Laptop PC sales were up 26 percent over 2019, the largest gain in many years. It would have been even higher if more supply were available.

Many laptop buyers are looking for their PCs to perform a wide variety of activities — from keeping up on social media and streaming videos to creating and editing videos and playing the latest games. They want as much performance as they can get without having to sacrifice portability.

To address that demand, we’ve just announced that the GeForce RTX 30 Series, powered by the NVIDIA Ampere architecture, will soon be available in laptops. These laptops can handle all the latest tasks and are available in slim designs using our third-generation Max-Q technologies.

RTX 30 Series laptops bring exceptional power to gamers and creators, with the best laptops for creators meeting the specifications of our NVIDIA Studio program.

And there are laptops available specifically for esports players that include 240Hz displays for fast response and low latency. Gamers can compete at the highest level on these devices.

This week we announced that our partners are introducing over 70 laptops — it’s our biggest GeForce laptop launch ever. These are the world’s fastest laptops that give gamers and creators a huge variety to choose the right device for their needs.

More to Come

The GeForce RTX 30 Series GPUs shipping in desktops and, very shortly, in laptops, coupled with ray tracing in games, will fuel the next round of gaming PCs and upgrades.

Over the past two decades, GPUs have revolutionized modern graphics again and again. Once the holy grail of computer graphics, ray tracing is now the standard.

We look forward to more revolutions to come: if the last 20 years of graphics and gaming were amazing, the next 20 will seem nothing short of science fiction.