There is no shortage of factors to consider when looking at cities in which you could potentially live. If you’re a gamer, in addition to all the other factors, you are probably considering what the best cities for gamers are in the U.S.? Which gaming cities have the best internet infrastructure? Where is it easiest to buy physical games?
Even though most cities have a solid selection of reliable and fast internet service providers, not all of them have plenty of video game stores, gaming conventions or even small-scale organized meetups. Last but not least, if you’re a student, you may be considering video game college programs or a career in game development.
The PrivacyJournal team did the research, and after looking at the 100 most populated cities in the United States, we came up with a list of the best cities for gamers, ranking them overall and in several categories. Overall there were 17 factors considered, such as internet quality, availability of video game stores, gaming environment and culture, and study and career opportunities.
Map of the 20 Best U.S. Gaming Cities
7 Key Takeaways: Best Cities for Gamers
- New York City is the top city for gamers in the U.S., offering a thriving gaming community with a wide choice of conventions and meetups, and plenty of job opportunities.
- Raleigh, North Carolina’s excellent livability and impressive internet infrastructure make it a prime choice for both at-home and on-the-move gamers who want speedy internet wherever they are.
- Plano, Texas, also has an excellent infrastructure and great livability, but the lack of gaming communities and low number of professional opportunities push it lower on the list.
- If you’re looking forblazing-fast mobileinternet speeds, the cities that lead the pack are Kansas City, Missouri; Glendale, California; Scottsdale, Arizona; Columbus, Ohio; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ensuring seamless online gaming experiences.
- If you want affordable internet, Aurora, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; and Indianapolis, Indiana, offer cost-effective internet plans without significantly compromising on quality.
- For prospective students, Los Angeles, New York City and Houston lead the way when it comes to gaming-related university programs.
- The biggest names in the game development industry are established in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City, making them prime locations for career growth and professional development.
Best US Gaming Cities: Overall Rank List
|Overall Rank||City||Overall Score||Livability||Internet structure||Gaming Community & Retail Access||Gaming Career & Education|
|1||New York City, NY||55.1||45||30||3||3|
|4||Los Angeles, CA||49.0||80||65||8||1|
|13||Las Vegas, NV||45.0||31||51||4||74|
|15||Jersey City, NJ||44.1||1||5||88||14|
|16||San Antonio, TX||43.8||82||14||20||16|
|18||San Francisco, CA||42.8||97||38||28||2|
|20||North Las Vegas, NV||41.9||48||36||13||57|
|22||Virginia Beach, VA||41.2||6||12||39||86|
|25||San Diego, CA||40.1||35||44||19||47|
|31||Kansas City, KS||38.9||65||3||73||79|
|39||Fort Wayne, IN||38.2||24||26||50||64|
|42||San Jose, CA||37.6||55||43||30||51|
|43||Oklahoma City, OK||37.5||69||32||32||59|
|45||Santa Ana, CA||37.1||78||23||96||8|
|49||Colorado Springs, CO||36.7||53||34||42||65|
|55||Fort Worth, TX||35.7||39||40||46||82|
|59||Long Beach, CA||35.4||86||21||93||30|
|66||Corpus Christi, TX||34.2||61||58||55||67|
|67||Chula Vista, CA||34.1||74||49||75||56|
|72||San Bernardino, CA||33.5||79||54||66||63|
|75||El Paso, TX||32.9||15||77||62||95|
|84||Port St. Lucie, FL||31.5||20||63||94||87|
|85||St. Petersburg, FL||31.4||63||61||91||78|
|87||St. Louis, MO||31.4||100||86||25||24|
|90||St. Paul, MN||30.5||83||39||99||77|
|95||New Orleans, LA||27.5||66||95||67||55|
- 1 = Best
- Livability: Cost of living + safety + average salary
- Internet Infrastructure: Mobile internet speed + fixed broadband internet speed + fiber Coverage + cost of internet + number and percentage of households with internet access + number and percentage of households with computers
- Gaming Community & Retail Access: GameStop Store (per 100K residents) + Best Buy stores (pre 100K residents) + video game convention + video game meetups + ages of 15 to 44
- Gaming Career and Education: Video game job openings (per 100K residents) + university programs related to gaming + number of video-game companies
When researching our data for the list and rankings, we made some interesting observations. For example, even though New York City has a rather high cost of living, the solid internet infrastructure and excellent gaming community make it home to hundreds of game development studios, including Take-Two Interactive, WB Games and Avalanche Studios.
Miami is home to plenty of GameStop stores and has a fair few Best Buy locations. This, and the fact that it’s home to plenty of conventions, such as OtakuFest, and Florida Supercon, ranked it fairly high in the gaming community category. Unfortunately, the high cost of living and atrocious internet infrastructure tanked its ratings.
Last, but not least, there is Los Angeles. Despite the city’s bad livability ratings and mediocre-at-best internet infrastructure, it’s home to prestigious universities such as the University of Southern California and UCLA, both of which have plenty of educational opportunities for prospective computer science students. For that reason, the city ranks high on our list.
Best Cities for Gaming Ranked by Category
Even though the overall rank list above should be a solid indicator for which cities to pay closer attention to, looking into the specific categories chosen to be considered is somewhat interesting. Here is what we found, starting off with the cities that have the best internet infrastructure.
Which US Cities Have the Best Internet Infrastructure?
A good internet connection is crucial for online gaming. By that, we mean overall internet quality, average internet speed on fixed broadband and mobile, and the cost of the internet connection. If internet quality and infrastructure is your highest priority, these are the five best cities for gamers:
- Plano, Texas
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- Kansas City, Missouri
- Austin, Texas
- Jersey City, New Jersey
Conversely, there are cities that have absolutely atrocious internet infrastructure. If you care about high speeds, low latency and reasonable prices, these are the cities you should think twice about:
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Laredo, Texas
- Toledo, Ohio
- Miami, Florida
- Anchorage, Alaska
Plano, Texas, leads the ranks, with a median internet speed of 225.56 Mbps for fixed broadband connections and 142.42 Mbps for mobile connections. The city has 91% fiber coverage, which ensures excellent internet quality, and the most affordable internet connection will set you back $48.70 per month.
If you’re primarily an at-home gamer and a fixed broadband connection is a key priority, Raleigh, North Carolina, offers a median speed of 285.87 Mbps, putting it toward the top of the list. If, on the other hand, a mobile connection is more important, Kansas City and Glendale have the best mobile internet speeds, with 159.42 Mbps and 155.89 Mbps, respectively.
Gamers who want an affordable connection and don’t care about gigabit internet speeds or the fastest internet connections should consider Indianapolis, Indiana, where the most affordable plan is $29.99 per month.
Alternatively, Aurora, Colorado, at $46.40 per month, and Portland, Oregon, at $46.66 per month, are options to consider. On the other hand, Milwaukee will set you back at least $64.98 per month, making it the worst option for cost of internet.
Frisco, Texas, tops both the rankings for the highest percentage of households with computers, at 96.8%, and highest percentage of households with internet access, at 99.1%. Cleveland, Ohio, is an interesting example, with 86.9% of households having computers but only 75.2% having internet access.
Memphis, Tennessee, is at toward the bottom of the internet infrastructure rankings with median fixed broadband speeds of 171.52 Mbps, and only 22% of the city has fiber coverage. Mobile internet speeds aren’t impressive either, with a median speed of 77.91 Mbps.
Which US City Offers the Best Gaming Environment?
When it comes to a gaming environment, gamers care about the best and worst cities in regards to video game conventions and meetups. They’re also interested in a young population and the availability of video game stores that have games and gaming hardware. For the gamers who have gaming environment as a main priority, the best cities are:
- Miami, Florida
- Orlando, Florida
- New York City, New York
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Houston, Texas
On the flip side, there are cities to avoid. They are notorious for having few to no gaming conventions and meetups and a bad overall presence of video game stores such as GameStop and Best Buy. These cities are:
- Newark, New Jersey
- St. Paul, Minnesota
- Detroit, Chicago
- Washington, D.C.
- Santa Ana, California
If you care most about gaming conventions, there are four cities that have multiple conventions per year each: Jacksonville, Florida; Columbus, Ohio; Houston, Texas; and Atlanta, Georgia. If meetups are more your preference, you should check out Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco.
When it comes to cities with a high population of young individuals aged 15 to 44, New York City is first with over 3.5 million. Los Angeles is a not-so-close second, with over 1.7 million. On the opposite end of the scale, there is Port St. Lucie, Florida, with a tad over 80,000 young individuals, and Scottsdale, with around 83,000.
If you’re still keen on buying video game equipment and games in a store, Miami has the best GameStop presence, whereas Boston and Washington have no GameStop stores at all.
Best Buy shoppers will be best off in North Las Vegas or Orlando. Unfortunately, 12 out of the 100 cities have zero Best Buy stores — gaming establishment density isn’t really at its peak nowadays.
Best Cities for Pursuing a Career in Gaming
If you’re a passionate gamer considering a career in the video game industry, there are plenty of cities that have plenty of job opportunities. Whether you’ve just finished university and are looking for your first job or you’re considering a career change, here are the best cities to pursue a career in gaming:
- Los Angeles, California
- San Francisco, California
- New York City, New York
- Austin, Texas
- Irvine, California
On the other hand, there are cities you should steer clear of due to very low or sometimes even no gaming job opportunities. Stay away from these:
- Bakersfield, California
- Stockton, California
- Lincoln, Nebraska
- Anchorage, Alaska
- Spokane, Washington
If a career is what you’re after, you’ll be best off in Anaheim, California, which has over 65 job openings per 100,000 residents in the gaming world. Irvine and Santa Ana, California, are next up, both with a tad over 46 openings. You’ll be hard pressed to find a job in Bakersfield, though, which has no openings at the time of writing.
San Francisco is an absolute mecca for video game companies, with 78 gaming companies choosing to call it home. Los Angeles comes in second with 59, and New York City is third with 53.
College students and young gamers considering a science degree related to gaming will love Los Angeles and New York City, which have six and five university programs related to gaming, respectively. That being said, there are around 40 cities on our list that have no university opportunities, making them a bad choice for prospective students.
Career Advice for Gamers
In the context of pursuing a career in the gaming field, Drew Davidson, a distinguished professor at the Entertainment Technology Centre at Carnegie Mellon University, shared a valuable piece of advice: “Do more than just play games; it’s what you do outside of games that you can then bring into the games, enabling you to create fresh and distinctive gaming experiences.”
Professor Davidson’s insights underscore the significance of diverse experiences and perspectives in shaping the gaming industry of tomorrow.
Methodology & Sources
To create our list of best and worst cities for gamers, the PrivacyJournal team identified and selected the 100 most populated cities in the U.S. to serve as our base set. Then, we selected 17 factors that impact one’s gaming experience, such as overall livability, internet speeds and quality, gaming community and gaming establishment density, and study and career opportunities.
To make sure our comparisons were fair, we normalized the numbers for each factor on a scale from 0 to 1, which standardized the data and made it significantly easier to analyze. Then, we assigned weight points to each factor to reflect how important it is, which allowed us to prioritize factors in the final rankings.
Last but not least, we summed the normalized scores for each factor to get rankings within each category. We also summed the scores from all categories for all cities to get the best and worst cities in a final ranking list.
Here are the factors and their weight points, starting with overall livability of the cities.
Livability, with 15 weight points in total:
- Cost of living: 5 points
- Safety: 5 points
- Salary: 5 points
Internet infrastructure, with 35 weight points in total:
- Fixed broadband internet speed: 9 points
- Mobile internet speed: 9 points
- Fiber coverage: 4.25 points
- Number and percentage of households with computers: 4.25 points
- Number and percentage of households with internet access: 4.25 points
- Cost of Internet: 4.25 points
Gaming community and retail access, with 35 weight points in total:
- GameStop stores per 100,000 residents: 7.5 points
- Best Buy stores per 100,000 residents: 7.5 points
- Video game conventions (annually): 7.5 points
- Video game meetups: 7.5 points
- Population aged 15 to 44: 5 points
Gaming career and education opportunities, with 15 weight points in total:
- Video game job openings per 100,000 residents: 5 points
- University programs related to gaming: 5 points
- Number of video game companies in the city: 5 points
When it comes to the sources we used for our best and worst cities rankings, we relied on key organizations such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the Entertainment Software Association. We also took information from websites such as Speedtest and Indeed, as well as the official websites of retailers such as GameStop and Best Buy. Here is a full list of our sources:
Our research revealed some interesting things. For example, gamers care about multiple things when choosing a city to live in — having a good internet infrastructure, but also meetups and conventions where they can share their passion for playing video games. It’s also important that the city has job openings, university programs and even scholarship opportunities in the industry.
All of this resulted in some rather amusing ranks. For example, Los Angeles came in 80th in the livability rankings and 65th when it comes to internet infrastructure. However, the fact that it has an excellent gaming community and retail access and the best career and education opportunities pushed it to an overall fourth place.
It’s not the only upset on our list, though, with plenty of small things impacting the overall total score of many cities. Which rank surprised you most on our list? Was it San Francisco’s absolutely horrendous livability score or Plano’s top-notch internet infrastructure and fairly low cost of living? Sound off in the comments, and thank you for reading!
FAQ: Best Gaming Cities
Which cities stood out as the best for video gamers in 2023?Plano, Texas, has the highest internet speed in the nation, but relatively few events and meetups. New York City and Raleigh, North Carolina, offer an excellent balance of infrastructure and community.
Which cities should gamers possibly avoid?Within our list of the 100 biggest U.S. cities, the worst internet infrastructure is in Memphis, Tennessee ,and Laredo, Texas. Newark, New Jersey, and St. Paul, Minnesota, are the worst for community, with few gaming meetups and electronics stores.
Where can one find the most favorable internet infrastructure for gaming?The fastest internet in America is in Plano, a Texas panhandle city with 91% fiber internet coverage. You can get an internet connection over 200 Mbps for less than $50 per month.
Which cities offer the best gaming environment?Two cities in Florida — Miami and Orlando — have the best environment for gaming, thanks to game-centered social events, specialty stores and young populations.
In which cities are gaming career opportunities and education most abundant?Los Angeles, California, is the best city in the United States to pursue a gaming career. It has six university-level game-development programs and the headquarters of 59 video game companies.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, check out some other research and statistics articles below.