As 2021 comes to a close, we reflect on a year that was full of play. Even as the world took steps towards opening, we continued to play games – lots of them. We saw more than half a billion players around the world come together and socially connect in and around our interactive entertainment experiences.
With the new year around the corner, the Electronic Arts 2021: Year In Gaming unveils how our global community played — interesting player habits, their favorite teams and characters, and how they engaged with and experienced the positive power of play to create their own form of connection, pushing the boundaries of the traditional game experience.
How and why people play are as diverse as the players themselves. Our players built communities around their shared passion for sports and competition in battles, some sought to explore new worlds while others played to create their own worlds and shape their own virtual experiences.
How and what did players play in 2021? Let’s take a look at some highlights of the year that was gaming:
More players from around the world are playing
The Electronic Arts global player community grew even larger. Out of the millions of new people to join our player community this year, the majority were from Europe (30%), followed by the United States (25%), Asia Pacific (22.5%), and South and Latin America (15.7%).
Legends and footballers reign supreme
With more than 500 million players around the world, what were players playing the most? Apex Legends™ and EA SPORTS™ FIFA were Electronic Arts’ most popular franchises of 2021. As one of the most played franchises, Apex Legends players placed more than 322 billion Pings, took more than 24 billion ziplines and used 12 billion jump pads. In FIFA 21, players around the world took to the virtual pitch to score more than 22 billion goals.
Players in-game choices don’t always reflect real-life sports rankings
Players create and play games how they want, regardless of real-world stats and top players. This year, we saw interesting top athlete picks and matchups. For example:
San Jose Sharks’ Erik Karlsson, who currently isn’t in the top 50 player points scored in the NHL, was the top owned player card in EA SPORTS™ NHL 21.
Joanna Jędrzejczyk vs. Valentina Shevchenko, two female fighters, was the third most popular matchup in EA SPORTS™ UFC 4.
Our games spur creativity and self-creation
In UFC 4, players made nearly 7 million custom-created fighters to battle it out in matches this year. In The Sims™ 4, players immersed themselves in the game with more than one billion hours played, creating 376 million Sims. The Sims inspires us to make art imitate life and create a world that’s unique to each of us. When real life experiences were limited, players recreated family, friends and social gatherings they weren’t able to attend in-person.
Throughout the year, video games continued to take shape as a form of interactive entertainment that brings people together through dedicated communities and fandom. Whether it’s sports or battling it out in the Outlands, explore how we came together to play in the 2021: Year In Gaming infographic below!