Ofcom has published its annual report into the UK’s online habits – including plenty of stats for how many of us are now playing online games, paying for subscriptions, and trying to beat Wordle.
39 percent of UK adults aged 16 or over play games online, Ofcom says, with 56 percent of children aged three to 15 playing games online. The average time spent each week playing games online was 7 hours and 33 minutes, including PC, console, VR and smartphone gaming.
These figures come from Ofcom surveys completed in late 2021, so after formal lockdowns had ended, Ofcom noted. In general, there was a dip in the amount of time younger people played online games year-on-year, though a growth in time spent playing online games for those aged 55-64.
More than half – 58 percent – of those who played games online were now subscribed to at least one games subcription service, such as Xbox Game Pass or PlayStation Plus.
In the UK, PlayStation Plus had 3.2 million subscribers in Q4 2021, according to Ampere Games research quoted by Ofcom. This compares to 2.6 million Xbox Game Pass subscribers, a further 1.5 million Xbox Live Gold subscribers, and 1.49 million Nintendo Switch Online owners.
Smartphones beat games consoles as the most commonly-used device for adults to play games. 37 percent of UK adults play games using a smartphone, compared to 30 percent on a games console.
Consoles are far more widely used by young people – with 60 percent of 16-24 year olds and 59 percent among children aged 3-15 years old.
Research from Childwise quoted by Ofcom states that 14 percent of UK children aged 5-16 have access to an Xbox Series X/S, compared to 10 percent of children the same age with a PlayStation 5 at home. A third of all console-owning households had a Nintendo Switch.
In a nice piece of positive PR for video games, figures quoted by Ofcom from the UK Safer Internet Centre included word that 70 percent of parents believed online games had helped children connect with their friends, with 60 percent of children aged eight to 17 saying that playing games online made them feel less lonely.
That’s not to say it’s all good news. Statistics from the UK Safer Internet Centre show that while 71 percent of children who play games online say it makes them feel happy, 68 percent say they have experienced offensive or mean comments from other players at some point. And elsewhere in Ofcom’s report – in its sections on social media usage and impact – it’s clear there’s a strong divide between how safe men and women feel online.
In terms of games themselves, the most popular game genre for children remains creative/building, spearheaded by Minecraft and Roblox.
For adults, Candy Crush Saga was the “top-reaching games app on mobile devices in the UK”. 2.5 million UK adults played the popular free-to-play puzzler in February 2022.
In second place? Pokémon Go. 1.6 million UK adults played the ever-popular pocket monster sensation in February 2022.
But both of these games are dwarfed by the reach of Wordle. 8.4 million UK adults played Wordle in February 2022, across PCs, smartphones and tablets – 17 percent of all UK online adults.
More than half of all UK adults – 58 percent – watch video game-related content. This figure rises to 90 percent for those aged 16 to 24 specifically. The most popular platforms for this were YouTube, followed by Instagram, TikTok and then Twitch.
Figures show 2.9 million UK adults watched Twitch in September 2021, while 14.1 million visited reddit, where gaming is the fourth-most subscribed-to subreddit. 11 percent of all online UK adults used Discord in the same month.
So, how do your gaming habits compare?