I am currently trying to gather some data on the size of the games/virtual goods market and in particular the size of the corresponding work force. According to the company superdataresearch the virtual goods market is now at about 15 billion $.
To get a feeling for the size of this market I was looking for some other market sizes so like I found the global market size for the production of drugs in 2003 was somewhat similar in size, namely around 13 billion $ (page 16 in the world drug report):
“The value of the global illicit drug market for the year 2003 was estimated at US$13 bn at the production level, $94 bn at the wholesale level (taking seizures into account), and US$322 bn at the retail level (based on retail prices and taking seizures and other losses into account).”
I couldn’t found though much on the workforce in this market.
Regarding again the games/virtual goods market superdataresearch writes:
APAC is the biggest region with $8.7 billion in total virtual goods sales, with China”s $5.1 billion market leading the pack.
For comparision, the US makes a share of about 3 billion $ according to Tech Crunch/Inside Virtual Goods:
“The overall market for virtual goods in the US is headed towards $2.9 billion for 2012, according to the Inside Virtual Goods report. That’s up from $2.2 billion this year, and $1.6 billion in 2010.”
Here I found as a comparision the US meat market which seems to have a size of about 7 billion dollar.
In the meat market the work force comprises around 44000 people. So if one would make the ad-hoc assumption that the game and the meat markets are approximately equally labour intensive (which is actually an interesting question) then about 20000 people in the US would make their living in the US game market. Likewise worldwide this would give roughly 100000 people.
Any more precise data in this direction is welcome.