Paid Competitive Gaming market set to hit new heights in the US

The growth of the gaming sector in terms of turnover and participation is something that has been discussed at length over the past year or two. But while the popularity of gaming is beyond question, how best to monetize it is still hotly debated. 

Primary methods at present include subscription services, reward ads and, most recently, Play to Earn (P2E). However, a fourth option is growing in significance, especially in the US market. Recent data from Newzoo has revealed that Paid Competitive Gaming is trending like never before, especially in critical markets like the USA. 

An introduction to PCG 

The Newzoo report was the result of a mammoth study involving more than 24,000 respondents in 12 countries. It found that PCG had grown at a compound annual rate of about 32 percent in the US since 2021. That’s six times faster than the overall mobile games market. But what exactly is PCG? 

In short, it is a form of skill-based gaming in which players can challenge one another for either low or high stakes prizes. Typically, these take the form of puzzle games, such as bubble shooters or card games like solitaire. Each player is faced with the same puzzle or card deck so games are on a level playing field. 

To enter a game, players must deposit either real money or game tokens, and these contribute towards the prize fund. In general, players have the option to deposit real money or to earn in-game tokens through giveaways, watching ads and so on. 

PCG is different to casino gaming

On the face of it, PCG might sound similar to casino gaming. After all, both involve laying down real money in the hope of doubling it or better by winning a game. Also, both are very popular forms of gaming on the US market. However, there is a fundamental difference. When US players visit online casinos with live dealers and play games like roulette or craps or blackjack, the games are primarily down to luck. Yes, there is an element of skill in blackjack, but it is predominantly a game of chance, where winning or losing is essentially down to the turn of a card. 

In PCG, the luck element is eliminated by giving everyone the same conditions, such as identical puzzles to solve or the same cards. There is no luck involved, and there is no house edge, although the game might retain a percentage of the pot – a little like a poker club charging a rake.

This also means the prizes are comparatively modest. None of the four or five figure jackpots for a one-dollar spin that you might see in a casino slot game! The point, however, is that for years, we have been playing games like these for notional “points” or in-game currency. The thought of winning even a little real money by playing solitaire or bubble shooter better than your friend or your brother is a compelling one. 

PCG’s growth will continue

Newzoo predicts that the PCG boom being observed in the US is only the beginning. Industry analysts predict that by the end of 2024 global smartphone use will grow by an incredible 45 percent from 2.9 billion to 4.8 billion. This growth will stem from availability of affordable handsets and improved connectivity in emerging markets like India and West Africa. 

But it is not just the number of players that is set to increase. The possibilities for expanding the range of PCGs is practically limitless, from arcade classics like Pac Man to competitive sports games, which have always struggled to gain traction in the eSport arena.

Richard Maxwell

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