2018’s Best Cities for Gamers
Gaming is serious business. Globally, it’s an over $100 billion industry. One estimate puts combined gaming revenue between software and hardware at $149 billion, on par with that of the sports industry. That’s unsurprising with the number of ways there are to enjoy video games in the present day, from consoles by Nintendo, PlayStation and Microsoft to gaming PCs and mobile devices to simply watching others stream on a platform like Twitch or YouTube.
According to a 2017 Pew research poll, 60 percent of Americans aged 18-29 play video games “often” or “sometimes,” as do 53 percent of Americans ages 30 to 49. And pro gaming, or “esports,” is growing into a viable career choice for those with the best mechanical skills. For example, the Overwatch League, run by Blizzard Entertainment, carries a $1 million prize pool and a minimum $50,000 salary for each player.
Some cities cater to gamers by hosting the biggest events in the industry. That includes e-sports stadiums or conventions like PAX and the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Others offer the opportunity to get a career through college programs and company locations.
But some places are better than others for the gamer lifestyle, so WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 20 key indicators of gamer-friendliness. Our data set ranges from average internet speed to video-game stores per capita to number of esports tournaments. Read on for the winners, gamer advice and industry insight from a panel of experts, and our full methodology.
Best Cities for Gamers
|City||Total Score||‘Gaming Environment’ Rank||‘Internet Quality & Coverage’ Rank||‘Gamer & Developer Opportunities’ Rank|
|5||New York, NY||60.88||4||36||5|
|7||Los Angeles, CA||57.74||10||64||1|
|8||Las Vegas, NV||56.97||7||35||11|
|11||San Diego, CA||51.25||18||41||6|
|14||San Francisco, CA||49.49||28||28||7|
|17||Jersey City, NJ||46.16||51||9||13|
|20||San Jose, CA||45.99||27||17||16|
|27||Virginia Beach, VA||44.10||57||3||68|
|39||San Antonio, TX||39.14||39||37||29|
|41||Fort Worth, TX||38.83||33||42||84|
|42||Long Beach, CA||38.52||53||16||38|
|46||St. Paul, MN||36.98||47||30||51|
|47||Santa Ana, CA||36.69||46||44||35|
|53||Colorado Springs, CO||34.89||48||40||77|
|59||Chula Vista, CA||34.00||78||31||28|
|60||Oklahoma City, OK||33.85||54||43||72|
|62||Fort Wayne, IN||33.59||93||6||75|
|71||Baton Rouge, LA||32.22||69||67||43|
|72||North Las Vegas, NV||32.12||82||22||88|
|76||New Orleans, LA||30.81||61||80||56|
|77||St. Louis, MO||30.70||66||62||46|
|78||St. Petersburg, FL||30.20||91||32||96|
|85||Corpus Christi, TX||28.95||92||45||100|
|86||Kansas City, MO||28.80||84||46||86|
|87||El Paso, TX||28.31||90||59||81|
|97||San Bernardino, CA||22.27||94||97||36|
Gaming can be both an expensive and a time-consuming habit. For advice on maintaining a healthy gaming lifestyle and insight on the industry, we asked a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What tips do you have for someone who wishes to indulge his or her gamer habits without breaking the bank?
- What tips do you have for parents looking to monitor video-game content and prevent children from spending too much time playing video games?
- Which is more cost effective: a subscription model akin to Netflix that allows users to access a catalog of games or purchasing games individually?
- Do you believe the popularity of esports will continue to rise? Will it ever rival major sports leagues such as the NFL or MLB?
- Does betting on esports fall under the Supreme Court’s recent turnover on sports gambling?
In order to determine the best cities for gamers, WalletHub compared 100 of the most populated U.S. cities across three key dimensions: 1) Gaming Environment, 2) Internet Quality & Coverage and 3) Gamer & Developer Opportunities.
We examined those dimensions using 20 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for gamers. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), the square root of the population was used to calculate the “Number of Residents” in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
We then determined each city’s based weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
Gaming Environment – Total Points: 50
- Video-Game Stores per Capita*: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
- Arcades per Capita*: Half Weight (~2.38 Points)
- Computer Stores per Capita*: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
- Electronics Stores per Capita*: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
- Share of Adults Owning a Smartphone: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
- Share of Households Owning a Computer: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
- Number of Annual Comic-Book, Video-Game, Anime, and Sci-Fi/Fantasy Conventions: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
- “Sci-Fi & Games” MeetUps: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of “Sci-Fi & Games” MeetUp groups per number of adults aged 18 to 49.
- Number of LARP (live-action-role-playing) Groups per Capita: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of “LARP” groups per number of adults aged 18 to 49.
- Presence of a Major League Gaming Event: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
Note: This binary metric considers whether a city has hosted or never hosted a Major League Gaming event.
- Share of Population Aged 18 to 49: Full Weight (~4.76 Points)
Note: The average age of the U.S. gamer is 35, which is the same for male gamers, according to the Entertainment Software Association. The average age of the most frequent female gamer is 44.
Internet Quality & Coverage – Total Points: 30
- Average Internet Speed: Double Weight (~12.00 Points)
- Share of Households with Broadband Connection: Double Weight (~12.00 Points)
- Internet Cost: Full Weight (~6.00 Points)
Gamer & Developer Opportunities – Total Points: 20
- Video-Game Job Openings per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.64 Points)
- Number of Video-Game College Programs: Full Weight (~3.64 Points)
- Number of Video-Game Companies: Full Weight (~3.64 Points)
- Presence on “Top 50 Best Game Design Schools & Colleges” Ranking: Half Weight (~1.82 Points)
Note: This metric is based on the ranking by gamedesigning.org.
- Number of Esports Tournaments: Full Weight (~3.64 Points)
- Average Prize Money Awarded at Esports Tournaments: Full Weight (~3.64 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from U.S. Census Bureau, Yelp.com, Esri's Updated Demographics - 2017 estimates (Market Potential: GfK MRI), Major League Gaming, BandwidthPlace, MeetUp.com, Numbeo.com, Indeed.com, The Entertainment Software Association, Lake House Media, UpcomingCons, Convention Scene, VideoGameCons, LARP List and e-Sports Earnings.
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