The 10 best cities for gamers — and why cities love them right back
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Feb. 02, 2021
The video game industry is growing at a pace that feels about as fast as one of its oldest characters — looking at you, Sonic the Hedgehog.
For perspective, the global gaming market is estimated to exceed $200 billion in revenue by 2023, according to Newzoo. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 214.4 million video game players (average age 35 - 44), according to the Entertainment Software Association, and 75 percent of Americans have at least one of them in their household.
Those players are no doubt scattered far and wide across the U.S., but it could also be argued that some of their gaming appetites are being fueled better than others. With our partners at Siege Media, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best cities for gamers in the U.S.
You might be wondering, what makes a city great for gaming? For starters, internet download speeds. Without a strong connection, a gamer’s gameplay might as well be no play at all. Which is why our partners at Siege Media started with a list of the top 100 cities in the U.S. with the fastest internet download speeds to begin their analysis of which cities are geared for gaming.
They examined the internet quality, gamer community, and gamer readiness of each town to determine a list of the 50 best cities for gaming. A few of their takeaways from that analysis:
- Everything really is bigger in Texas: The state held the most video game conventions in the U.S. in 2019.
- West Virginia was excited about the XBOX SERIES X: According to Google Trends, the state Googled the new console the most in the U.S. surrounding the release date.
- GameStops are alive and well: As an example, Riverside, Illinois, has 36 within a 15-mile radius.
- Massachusetts is for gamers: 10 cities from the state made the list of 50 best cities for gaming.
- Utah is for PC gamers: Of all three cities in Utah that made the list, 96 percent of households on average had a computer.
- New Jersey couldn’t get enough of the PS5: According to Google Trends, the state Googled “PS5 restock” the second-most in all of the U.S. surrounding the console’s re-release.
Here, we take a closer look at the top 10 cities for gaming, examining their demographics, history, industries, and also local businesses that foster a gamer community.
1. El Segundo, California
Located around 20 miles from Los Angeles, this coastal enclave sits on the Santa Monica Bay and has no shortage of video enthusiasm — and businesses to show for it. Notably, Unbroken Studios is headquartered here and employs more than 50 video game developers. Another video game developer Naughty Dog, the maker of “The Last of Us,” also planted its headquarters in El Segundo. Nearby in Santa Monica, PlayVS helps high schools and other organizations launch esports programs.
The city’s own El Segundo High School doesn’t appear to have a formal esports program yet — its claim to fame is being where “The OC” was filmed — but one of its students, an aspiring video game developer, was once honored with an Aspirations in Computing Award from the National Center for Women & IT. Outside of school, you might find teens and gamers alike at the self-proclaimed “World’s Best Video Game Store” Cali Games. It even has a free PlayStation on hand to keep kids occupied. For GameStop loyalists, there’s plenty to choose from, as El Segundo has a whopping 24 locations within 15 miles of the city.
2. Converse, Texas
They say everything’s bigger in Texas and the same goes for the number of video game conventions. The state held the most in the U.S. in 2019, with 27 conventions, including three in San Antonio and three in Austin — coincidentally, Converse, Texas is an easy drive to both of them.
It’s a part of the San Antonio metropolitan area, which also happened to be the topmost city in the U.S. to Google “XBOX SERIES X,” surrounding the consoles release date. San Antonio also was the second-most city to google “PS5” surrounding the console’s release date.
And while Tripadvisor coins the Lonestar Handgun Shooting Range the top attraction in Converse itself, video game players needn’t venture far to their own oasis: The Scruffy Nerd Herders is just seven miles outside of town in the Rolling Oaks Mall. Converse also has the second-most internet providers on the list of 50 best cities for gamers at 22.
3. Dana Point, California
Smack dab between Los Angeles and San Diego, Dana Point, California, has a whopping 209 video game meet-ups within a drivable radius. Interestingly, there are no arcades within 15 miles of the city itself.
What it lacks in video game entertainment, it makes up for internet quality, with 19 providers available and being one of the top 100 cities in the U.S. with the fastest download speeds. This makes for an ideal home environment for gameplay. Aside from being known as the dolphin and whale watching capital of the world, Dana Point’s also the hometown of Magic Johnson. The former Los Angeles Lakers point guard even had a video game made after him: “Magic Johnson's Fast Break.”
4. Woods Cross, Utah
In Woods Cross, Utah, 99 percent of households have a computer — the highest percentage on the list of top 50 cities that are best for gaming. So it’s a fair bet that a few PC gamers reside here. Located just 10 miles north of Salt Lake City, Woods Cross has just two Best Buys within a 15-mile radius. But that’s not necessarily where you’ll find the most avid of video game players in the city. That’s more likely to be at http://gametyrant.gg/, a gaming lounge and host of esports tournaments right in the city.
5. Roanoke, Texas
Roanoke, Texas, has the third-most internet providers on the list of the top 50 cities that are best for gaming at 21 providers available. And that’s a lot considering the town’s population isn’t even 8,000. Yet, with the median age of residents 38, it makes sense that this city is built for gamers. There are even 15 GameStops within a 15-mile radius of the town.
Roanoke is a part of the Fort Worth metropolitan area, which was the third-most city in the U.S. to Google “PS5” surrounding the console’s release date. Video game stores like Retro Madness have taken notice of the area’s enthusiasm, opening its third and most recent location just 20 miles outside of Roanoke.
6. Libertyville, Illinois
Skirting up to Lake Michigan, this Northern Chicago suburb is known for gambling and that’s due in large part to J&J Ventures being headquartered here. The self-proclaimed “ largest privately-owned Terminal Operator in Illinois” outfits casinos with video gaming terminals (slot machines) and, of course, local businesses, too. Translation: The gaming spirit appears alive and well here, including in minors.
Libertyville High School, for instance, has an esports club.
That the town has 19 internet providers and is among the top 100 cities with the fastest internet connections in the U.S. means it’s well equipped to fuel a gamers’ interest. To boot, the neighboring town of Antioch is home to Xtreme Games, which has a healthy collection of video and board games alike.
7. Moorestown, New Jersey
Defunct video game developer and publisher Destination Software Inc., also known as DSI Games, was once based in Moorestown, New Jersey. And though the company is long gone, the city itself seems not to have lost its enthusiasm for video games. In fact, GameStop went big on Moorestown, putting 34 stores within 15 miles of the city. For independent retailers, there’s All Things Video Games just 15 miles outside of town and Next Level Video Games 20 miles away, as well as a Nintendo SSJ - Nintendo Switch South Jersey Group within five miles of the city.
Worth mentioning is that Moorestown is an Eastern suburb of Philadelphia, which was also the topmost city in the U.S. to Google “PS5” surrounding its release and, by no surprise, the second-most to Google “PS5 restock.”
8. Randallstown, Maryland
Just 20 miles outside of Baltimore, this town has an impressive internet download speed at 824.79 MBPS and 108 video game meetups with a drivable radius. What else is drivable? That would be the Party Game Truck parked just 10 miles outside of Randallstown. The self-proclaimed “arcade on wheels” is essentially a party bus fully equipped for video gamers, with seven 50-inch screens. Gamers gotta love it.
9. Clark, New Jersey
Clark, New Jersey, has the highest internet download speed in our list of 10 best cities for gaming at 839.25 MBPS. And it appears this city and its surrounding area is making good use of it for video game purposes. Just six miles outside of Clark, the Scotch Plains Recreation Department launched its own esports program last summer — and at least one Clark, New Jersey, resident has even gone to play esports at Caldwell University, just 20 miles outside of the city. The retro video game store, J2Games, also opened its second-ever location in New Jersey in 2020, right in Clark.
10. Succasunna, New Jersey
Succasunna, New Jersey, might be small but the gaming community in its surrounding area is active, with nearly 200 video game Meetups in a drivable distance. Located about 30 miles outside of Newark, the city itself has an interesting history that points to video-gaming enthusiasm. That begins with its tech-savviness: Succasunna is the site of the world's first electronic switching public telephone exchange. Comic book publisher Harry "A" Chesler is also from Succasunna. In 2017, The Philly Voice named it one of the happiest cities in New Jersey.
50 best cities for gamers
Top 50 Best Cities for Gaming
- El Segundo, California
- Converse, Texas
- Dana Point, California
- Woods Cross, Utah
- Roanoke, Texas
- Libertyville, Illinois
- Moorestown, New Jersey
- Randallstown, Maryland
- Clark, New Jersey
- Succasunna, New Jersey
- Wellesley, Massachusetts
- Pikesville, Maryland
- Windham, New Hampshire
- Riverside, Illinois
- Owasso, Oklahoma
- Smithfield, Utah
- Plainville, Massachusetts
- Hingham, Massachusetts
- Randolph, Massachusetts
- Ridgefield, Connecticut
- Murrysville, Pennsylvania
- Trumbull, Connecticut
- Dickinson, Texas
- Dracut, Massachusetts
- Ladera Ranch, California
- Accokeek, Maryland
- Melrose, Massachusetts
- Piedmont, Oklahoma
- Daphne, Alabama
- Pacific Grove, California
- La Salle, Illinois
- Pottstown, Pennsylvania
- Denham Springs, Louisiana
- Milford, Massachusetts
- Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
- Brigham City, Utah
- Winthrop, Massachusetts
- Zachary, Louisiana
- Kerrville, Texas
- Sapulpa, Oklahoma
- Jacksonville, Arkansas
- Carver, Massachusetts
- Wheeling, West Virginia
- Huntington, Indiana
- Lagrange, Georgia
- Greenfield, Massachusetts
- New Castle, Indiana
- Bridgeton, New Jersey
- Connellsville, Pennsylvania
- Greenwood, Arkansas
One of the best parts about gaming is that there’s an entry point for just about everyone, from consoles to handheld and PC games or games on mobile phones. There’s even streaming platforms like Twitch and esports events to tune in to others’ gameplay.
All this to say, internet speeds, GameStop locations and other factors aside, you can express your video game fandom wherever you reside!
To determine the best cities for gamers, our partner Siege Media began by looking at what’s most important to a gaming environment — internet download speeds — and used Broadband’s list of 100 cities in the U.S. with the fastest download speeds as a jumping-off point for the city study. For a more manageable sample size, they halved the list by finding the average population of cities (18,374.45) and examined 50 cities above and below that average.
They then considered what makes a city best for gaming — internet quality, gamer community, and gamer readiness — what factored into those categories, and weighted those factors accordingly (highlighted in parenthesis below).
- Internet quality factored in each city’s number of internet providers (25%) and percent of households with Broadband (30%).
- Gamer community factored in the number of video game conventions per state in each city, as well as Meetup groups within a drivable 100-mile distance of each city.
- Gamer readiness factored in businesses useful to gamers within a 15-mile radius (5% each): GameStops, Best Buys, arcades, and electronic stores. It also considered the percent of households owning a computer (15%).
Sources: City-study.com, BROADBANDNOW, Gamestop, Google Maps, Google Trends, Meetup, US Census Bureau, and VideoGameCons.com.
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