The overall UK gaming population has increased by 63% during lockdown, according to a new report from market research agency Opinium.

The reports suggests that  spending on gaming has also increased, as the UK spent a third (33%) more during lockdown, with women accounting for a a 55% increase in spending  during the period.

The report identifies “Covideogamers” – people who have only started gaming during lockdown – now make up 18% of the gaming population.

Nearly half (46%) are under 34 and one in five are based in London.  The majority have started playing due to an increase of free time, suggest the report, with over a third (37%) reporting they play out of boredom.

A similar proportion (36%) note they are looking for a way to keep their mind active.

Two thirds (66%) of all gamers agreed that gaming was a great way to escape the current crisis, with 55% agreeing that gaming was helping them get through lockdown.

 Single-player gaming also saw a resurgence among lapsed gamers (those who had given up on gaming before, but picked it up again in lockdown) in the period, with 52% of lapsed gamers now playing on their own again.

Puzzle games are the most popular gaming genre, according to the report, such as Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga, and action games, including Grand Theft Auto and Batman and Tomb Raider.

Andė Milinytė, Research Manager at Opinium commented: “It is no secret the industry expanded over lockdown, a result of lapsed gamers returning and the rise of Covideogamers – those who have picked up gaming having more time on their hands. Now, the industry is asking how they can capitalise on this.

James Endersby, Chief Executive, Opinium added: “With lockdown restrictions getting tighter, time and money spent on gaming shows no sign of abetting. Younger gamers are much more likely to play with their friends online than older gamers, and it’s the same for new gamers who are attracted to the sector because of the social opportunity it provides.

“This report shines a spotlight on how the gaming industry is transforming. There will no doubt be some winners and some losers, but retention will be key. How brands react, listen and tailor their products to the diverse needs of their customers – old and new- will be critical to their success.”