The U.S. video game industry generates $90 billion in annual economic output while supporting nearly 429,000 jobs in all 50 states.

If we were to envision an industry ideally situated for success in the 21st Century, it would probably have the following characteristics:

  • It would be dynamic and fast growing, with robust promise for future growth.
  • It would be entrepreneurial, open to entrance by new and expanding innovative companies, as well as supporting the growth and development of existing mid-size and large companies.
  • It would create high-paying jobs.
  • It would leverage U.S. leadership in advanced technology development, and generate innovations that spill over to benefit other industries.
  • It would have a diverse geographic footprint, creating jobs and opportunities in every state.
  • It would be an industry of substantial size, generating large-scale economic impacts.

The U.S. video game industry has all of these characteristics and more. Building on powerful and long-standing U.S. strengths in advanced technology, entertainment, and creative arts, it has rapidly grown to become home to more than 11,400 individual business establishments with operations present in every state.

This study, Video Games in the 21st Century: The 2020 Economic Impact Report, provides an in-depth analysis of the industry and its wide-ranging impacts. Key highlights from these findings include:

  • $90.3 BILLION IN ECONOMIC OUTPUT. The industry generated direct economic output in 2019 exceeding $40.9 billion and, through the multiplier effect, generated a total 2019 output in the U.S. of more than $90.3 billion.
  • OVER 143,000 DIRECT JOBS. The U.S. video game industry directly employs 143,045 personnel. When accounting for direct, indirect, and induced economic impacts, a total of 428,646 U.S. jobs are sustained because of the presence and operations of the industry and its associated expenditures.
  • FAMILY-SUSTAINING INCOMES. Total income (salaries, wages, and benefits) generated across the economy totals $35.28 billion, including $17.37 billion in direct compensation to video game industry workers (equivalent to $121,459 in compensation per worker).
  • OVER $59 BILLION IN VALUE-ADDED. Contributed $59.76 billion in value-added (growth in GDP) within the U.S. economy.
  • $12.6 BILLION IN TAXES. Video game industry-related economic activity generated $12.6 billion in 2019 taxes, comprising $8.2 billion in taxes for the federal government, and an additional $4.4 billion for state and local governments.

It is also found that the innovative and technological nature of the industry is generating strong positive spillover effects for other U.S. industries. Video game industry advancement has, for example, driven innovations in computation speed, graphics rendering, interface design and haptics, mobile systems design, networking, and software engineering. Similarly, innovations pioneered within the video game industry are finding diverse applications in other areas of the economy, with application now found in areas as diverse as medical imaging, medical robotics navigation, military training and simulation, and new educational and training applications using game-based learning. The creative content generated by video game innovators has also crossed over into other forms of entertainment and culture, spurring the development of valuable movie franchises, physical toys, and even expanding sports leagues and spectator events. In effect, the video game industry forms a highly influential core that is at the heart of an expanding ecosystem of advanced industries and applications benefiting the United States.

It is also found that the video game industry shows significant promise for ongoing economic growth and for advancement of new technologies and innovations. Video game companies are in the vanguard of companies advancing promising technologies in virtual reality, augmented reality, and advanced mobile computing, while at the same time being an early adopter of advancements in artificial intelligence.

For the foreseeable future the video game industry will be an important contributor to the power and promise of the U.S. national economy and the economic development of individual states and regions across the nation. As a convergence point for U.S. leadership in software, hardware, entertainment, and creative industries, the video game industry is generating new wealth for the U.S. critical to the expansion of the economy and the creation of new high-paying family-sustaining jobs. Sustaining policies and regulations conducive to video game industry growth, development, and investment should be considered a priority for all concerned with sustaining American economic leadership and advancing economic opportunity within individual states.