Gaming destinations ranked: 20+ top cities for gamers

21 mins
  • Paris tops our list as a premier gaming hub, celebrated for its robust internet speeds and significant e-sports earnings. New York City follows closely for its iconic skyline alongside high gameplay engagement.
  • The Big Apple is also the city most frequently featured in video games, with 460 video game appearances. London, Tokyo, Paris, and Los Angeles also rank highly for their distinctive appearances.
  • Portugal, Spain, and France lead gameplay globally, with gamers dedicating hundreds of thousands of hours to gaming, indicating a deep engagement and passion for video gaming across these nations.
  • The U.S. is a high e-sports earner, with a total of 261 million USD. France and the UK follow closely behind, with earnings of 52 million USD and 42 million USD, respectively.
  • A gaming VPN, like ExpressVPN, enhances the gaming experience by optimizing speed and ensuring secure and private gameplay. This tool is crucial for gamers, providing fast, secure, and unrestricted gaming experiences globally.

Video games not only open our imaginations but also transform familiar cities into dynamic stages. In these games, every street, building, and landmark plays a pivotal role in crafting immersive narratives and thrilling adventures. If you’re an avid gamer and thinking about your next travel destination, let our report help you pick one heavily associated with top games.

ExpressVPN’s Gaming Destinations Report dives into the digital and real-world intersections that gamers love. We’ve analyzed 24 cities globally, chosen for their notable contributions to and associations with the gaming world.

Our analysis spans several key indicators, including appearances in video games, internet speeds for optimal gameplay, e-sports earnings by player nationality, as well as other factors. This methodology enables us to identify and rank the cities that stand out as gaming hotspots.

For gamers curious about the real-world inspirations behind their favorite virtual settings or those scouting the next hot spot for their gaming journey, this report is your guide. Join us as we navigate through the fusion of culture, technology, and entertainment that shapes the top gaming cities around the world.

Top 10 gaming hotspots: Paris leads the charge 

Premier gaming cities earn their status through a unique blend of factors. A few of these include their frequent appearances in video games as dynamic backdrops for adventures and battles, the intense gaming engagement and passion within their communities, state-of-the-art internet infrastructure for lag-free gaming, and notable achievements in the e-sports arena. 

These elements not only contribute to their high scores on our index but also underscore their role as pivotal hubs in the global gaming ecosystem. This is because the presence of these cities in video games highlights their cultural significance, while high average gameplay time showcases a deep-rooted gaming culture. Superior internet speeds enable both competitive and casual gamers to enjoy seamless experiences, and impressive e-sports earnings reflect the cities’ investment in and commitment to the gaming industry.

1. Paris, France

Paris, scoring 84% based on its vibrant gaming presence, is a city where history and virtual worlds collide. With 179 video game appearances, it offers a diverse range of settings for players to explore. Popular games set in Paris include:

  • The Saboteur presents a World War II-era Paris, inviting players to engage in guerrilla warfare against the occupying Nazi forces, with landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame serving as backdrops for resistance efforts.
  • Night Call offers a unique narrative-driven experience, casting players as a Parisian taxi driver who becomes an unlikely detective navigating the city’s neon-lit streets at night. This game delves into the dark corners of Paris, providing a noir-inspired look at the city and its inhabitants.
  • Circle of Blood (also known as Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars), introduces players to a mystery that spans Paris and beyond. This point-and-click adventure game features iconic locations and a compelling story, blending historical intrigue with engaging puzzles.

These titles highlight Paris’s allure, blending its rich history with the interactive experiences video games provide. France’s players are some of the most avid gamers in the world by game-play hours. This, along with the country’s fast internet speed of 188.29 Mbps, further cements its status as a premier gaming destination. France’s e-sports scene, with players having earned 52 million USD, underscores the country’s vibrant gaming culture and its global influence in the esports industry.

2. New York City, U.S.

New York, scoring 82% based on its vibrant gaming scene, stands out for its prominent depiction in video games and passionate gaming community. With 460 video game appearances, New York serves as a backdrop to a multitude of gaming narratives, offering players the chance to explore virtual renditions of its bustling streets and iconic landmarks. Notable games include:

  • The Spider-Man series offers a visually stunning recreation of New York, including landmarks like the One World Trade Center and Fisk Tower. The game allows for web-slinging exploration across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens​​.
  • Grand Theft Auto 4, set in a fictional version of New York called Liberty City, captures the essence of the city with landmarks such as Central Park and Times Square, alongside a satirical take on the Statue of Liberty​​.
  • Assassin’s Creed 3 presents 18th-century New York during the American Revolution, offering a historical exploration of the city before its modern-day skyscrapers​​.

The U.S. leads in e-sports earnings, with players taking home over 261 million USD, suggesting a major role for its biggest city.

3. Tokyo 

Tokyo, ranking third with 221 games featuring it, earns a score of 75% as a gaming hotspot. The city’s unique districts, from the neon-lit streets of Shibuya to the electronic paradise of Akihabara and the serene traditional atmosphere of Asakusa, provide a vivid backdrop for a variety of video games. These neighborhoods offer players immersive environments that capture the essence of Tokyo’s diverse urban landscape.

A few fan-favorite games that feature Tokyo are: 

  • The Yakuza series is an intricate exploration of Tokyo’s criminal underworld, centered around the fictional district of Kamurocho, inspired by the real-life Kabukicho in Shinjuku. These games provide a detailed, lively portrayal of Tokyo’s nightlife and the intricacies of its societal structures.
  • In Ghostwire: Tokyo, players navigate a version of the city that has become a ghost town, blending supernatural elements with real-world locations. This game plunges players into the heart of Shibuya, where they confront eerie spirits and uncover the mystery behind the city’s sudden emptying. 
  • Tokyo Jungle takes a wildly different approach, presenting a post-apocalyptic Tokyo where nature has reclaimed civilization. Players explore familiar districts now overrun by flora and fauna, embodying various animals to survive in this new urban wilderness. 

Japan’s gaming engagement is robust, ranking seventh for game-play hours by its most active players. Tokyo’s internet speed, averaging 186.38 Mbps, supports an efficient online gaming experience. Additionally, with Japan’s competitive e-sports players generating earnings of 34 million USD, Tokyo’s prominence in global gaming culture is unmistakable. 

4. London, UK

London, scoring 73% for its unique blend of historic charm and vibrant gaming culture, is a favorite backdrop for many video games. Appearing in 285 video games, popular titles set in London include:

  • Doctor Who: City of the Daleks offers an adventure through London’s streets against the backdrop of an iconic British sci-fi universe. Players navigate through familiar locations, combating the Daleks, in a storyline that merges London’s landmarks with the timeless appeal of the Doctor Who series.
  • A cult-like favorite, the Sherlock Holmes offers players a deep dive into London’s heart, solving mysteries and unraveling crimes. Through intricately detailed depictions of London, the game immerses players in the city’s atmospheric environments, engaging them in puzzle-solving and investigations that mirror the rich history and cultural heritage of London.
  • Assassin’s Creed Syndicate invites players to Victorian London, offering a dive into the city’s past with a focus on famous neighborhoods and landmarks. It provides a detailed exploration of the historical and cultural significance of areas like Whitechapel and the City of London, blending historical fiction with the city’s architectural marvels.

These appearances are coupled with the UK’s strong gaming community, reflected in game-play hours that are some of the highest globally. The UK’s e-sports scene is also robust, with its players taking home earnings of 42 million USD, indicating a healthy and vibrant gaming economy.

5. Los Angeles, U.S. 

Los Angeles, known for its unique blend of urban energy and scenic beauty, scores 70% based on our gaming destination criteria. The sprawling metropolis of LA serves as a backdrop in 141 video games, allowing players to explore its varied landscapes, from the glamour of Hollywood to the edgy alleys of Skid Row:

  • Grand Theft Auto V presents a fictional yet strikingly familiar version of LA known as Los Santos. Players can navigate through neighborhoods that mirror Venice Beach, Santa Monica, and Downtown LA, engaging in a vast array of activities that capture the essence of the City of Angels.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II features multiple missions set in LA, including intense battles within the city’s streets and landmarks, showcasing a futuristic vision of the city under attack. This representation provides players with a thrilling combat experience amidst familiar urban settings.
  • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series features various LA landmarks, including Venice Beach and Downtown LA, allowing players to skateboard through these iconic locations in a way that highlights the city’s influence on the skateboarding culture.

The city’s gaming scene is further enriched by its high internet speed of 217.07 Mbps and a significant contribution to the U.S.’s leadership in e-sports earnings. This mix of virtual representations of LA in video games, along with real-world gaming hotspots, cements its status as a top destination for gamers seeking both digital and real-life gaming experiences.

5. Barcelona, Spain 

Barcelona boasts a vibrant gaming scene with a score of 68%, celebrated for its picturesque neighborhoods and iconic landmarks that attract gamers worldwide. Beyond its architectural marvels like the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona is a hub for both virtual and real-world gaming experiences, enriched by its Mediterranean charm and cultural heritage.

Barcelona’s presence in video games is marked by titles that capture its unique vibe and architectural marvels:

  • Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 features Barcelona as a skateable city, where players can perform tricks around the Gothic Quarter and other famous sites, immersing themselves in the city’s vibrant street culture.
  • Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood includes Barcelona in its multiplayer maps, allowing players to explore a historically inspired version of the city, blending stealth and exploration in iconic locations.
  • Gran Turismo 6 and Project Gotham Racing 2 both feature races in Barcelona, showcasing the city’s streets and architecture as high-speed racetracks, delivering an adrenaline-fueled experience of the city’s diverse landscapes.

Barcelona’s strong gaming presence is further bolstered by Spain’s impressive gameplay hours, ranked second in the world. An extremely fast internet speed, averaging 230 Mbps, ensures that gamers have a seamless online experience—and a winning edge.

7. Madrid, Spain 

Spain’s capital combines cultural richness with a love for gaming, scoring 67%. The city is celebrated for its iconic venues that have become hotspots for gamers to gather, play, and immerse themselves in both virtual and real-world gaming experiences. Madrid’s exceptional internet speed of 254 Mbps facilitates an active online gaming community, further enhanced by Spain’s significant contributions to e-sports earnings.

In the virtual world, Madrid has been featured in a variety of video games that capture the essence of its diverse districts and cultural landmarks. Games set in Madrid include:

  • Featuring the Circuito de Madrid, the Gran Turismo series offers players the chance to race through a virtual rendition of Madrid’s streets, showcasing the city’s architecture and vibrant atmosphere.
  • With Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu Stadium as a playable location, EA FC 24 gamers can experience the thrill of playing in one of the world’s most famous football stadiums, highlighting Madrid’s deep connection to sports and gaming culture.
  • With Mario Kart 8’s Madrid Drive circuit, players get to navigate through a whimsical yet recognizably Madrid-inspired track, adding a playful and engaging dimension to the city’s representation in the gaming world.

Madrid’s gaming culture extends beyond the screen, with neighborhoods like Malasaña and Chueca being well-known for their gaming bars and e-sports venues. These areas offer gamers spaces to socialize, compete, and celebrate gaming culture, from retro arcade games to modern e-sports competitions.

8. San Francisco, U.S. 

With a score of 65%, the Californian city is celebrated not just for its iconic presence in 111 video games but also for its vibrant neighborhoods where gamers gather for both digital and real-life gaming experiences. The city’s tech-driven culture is palpable in districts such as SoMa (South of Market), known for its tech companies and gaming studios, and the Mission District, where cafes and venues host gaming events and tournaments. These areas have become hubs for the gaming community, offering spaces where innovation and social gaming meet.

In the realm of video games, San Francisco’s urban landscape and tech-savvy atmosphere have made it an ideal setting for a variety of titles:

  • Watch Dogs 2 prominently features San Francisco, allowing players to explore a dynamic open world that captures the essence of the city from the bustling streets of downtown to the colorful, mural-lined alleys of the Mission District. The game’s depiction of hacking and surveillance culture resonates with San Francisco’s status as a tech hub.
  • Driver: San Francisco takes players on a high-speed chase through the city’s streets, showcasing landmarks and neighborhoods with remarkable accuracy. The game’s innovative use of the cityscape provides an exhilarating driving experience that mirrors the city’s diverse topography.
  • X-Men: Destiny is set against the backdrop of a futuristic San Francisco, where players dive into the world of mutants and their struggles. This action-packed game features key locations within the city, reimagined through the lens of the X-Men universe. Players navigate through famous neighborhoods and face challenges that echo the city’s diversity and technological edge.

9. Las Vegas, U.S. 

Las Vegas is already a betting and sports hub, and it has further aspirations to become the e-sports capital of the world. With a gaming scene score of 62%, the city is vividly captured in a variety of video games that highlight its unique blend of excitement, risk, and entertainment. This city’s 66 appearances in games span across genres, from action-packed adventures to strategic encounters, all set against the backdrop of its world-famous Strip and beyond. 

Here are a few of the top video games set in Las Vegas:

  • Hitman: Blood Money involves a mission set in a Las Vegas hotel, weaving a tale of intrigue and stealth amidst the city’s glittering facades​​.
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts sets part of its action in a futuristic Las Vegas, adding a layer of high-stakes warfare to the city’s well-known landscapes​​​​.
  • Need for Speed: The Run includes a high-speed, adrenaline-pumping race along the Las Vegas Strip, capturing the thrill of navigating one of the most famous streets in the world at breakneck speeds​​.

10. Miami, U.S. 

Miami, scoring 61% based on its vibrant culture and iconic landscapes, emerges as a captivating gaming destination. The city is celebrated for its sun-drenched beaches, Art Deco architecture, and pulsating nightlife, providing a colorful and diverse setting for video games. Although Miami might not boast as many video game appearances as some other cities, only appearing in 45, its unique blend of cultures and scenic beauty offers a distinctive backdrop for immersive gaming experiences. Notable games that do feature Miami include:

  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City draws heavily on the aesthetic and atmosphere of 1980s Miami, from its neon-lit streets to the sun-soaked beaches, offering players a rich narrative woven through the city’s criminal underbelly.
  • Delivering a gritty, neon-drenched perspective of Miami, Hotline Miami combines fast-paced action with a surreal storyline set against a backdrop of the city’s darker corners.
  • Driver: You Are the Wheelman features thrilling high-speed chases through a stylized version of Miami, showcasing the city’s iconic locations and vibrant atmosphere.

Miami’s gaming relevance is further underscored by its impressive internet speed of 203 Mbps, ensuring seamless online gaming experiences. Additionally, the city contributes to the U.S.’s substantial e-sports earnings, reflecting the city’s growing influence and participation in competitive gaming arenas. This combination of cultural richness, digital engagement, and robust infrastructure positions Miami as a noteworthy hub for gamers, offering both inspiration and a playground for virtual adventures.

How other gaming hotspots compare 

City Country Score (%)
Washington D.CU.S. 59%
Chicago U.S. 55%
New Orleans U.S. 52%
San Diego U.S. 52%
Rome Italy50%
Seattle U.S. 45%
Lisbon Portugal 42%
Venice Italy 36%
Sydney Australia 33%
PragueCzech Republic29%
BelgradeSerbia 18%


Expanding beyond the leading gaming cities, a diverse array of locations reveals the global fascination and varied landscapes video games draw inspiration from. For instance, in Washington D.C. (a city that appears in 53 video games), the political heart of the U.S., games like Fallout 3 imagine a post-apocalyptic scene, reflecting the city’s monumental backdrop. Meanwhile, Chicago’s urban energy is depicted in 55 video game titles, including Watch Dogs—where players navigate through its digitally rendered streets, underscoring the city’s architectural splendor.

Across the Atlantic, Amsterdam and Rome (which feature in 26 and 56 video games, respectively) offer gamers picturesque canals and ancient ruins, respectively, serving as dynamic stages for narrative-driven adventures. Amsterdam’s vibrant gaming scene is matched by Rome’s historic ambiance, both hosting esports events that draw global attention. Seattle, a tech hub like San Francisco, influences the gaming industry with titles like Infamous Second Son, highlighting its modernity and innovative spirit.

Lisbon’s historic streets and Venice’s iconic canals emerge in gaming narratives, while Sydney’s harborside beauty captivates in racing games and adventure titles. Prague’s medieval architecture provides a gothic setting for fantasy games, inviting players into its mysterious alleyways.

At the tail end, Athens, Belgrade, and Havana enrich the gaming industry with their unique cultural and historical narratives, despite their nascent e-sports scenes. These cities, with their distinct identities, contribute to the diverse world of gaming, offering players virtual explorations of unique landscapes and stories.

Top gaming nations 

Following our exploration of the world’s top gaming cities, it’s clear that the passion for video games transcends local urban landscapes, embedding itself into the cultural fabric of nations worldwide. This global gaming enthusiasm prompts us to look beyond city limits, examining how countries at large engage with the digital realm of gaming.

We looked at stats surrounding players on the Steam platform to see which nations’ gamers clock the most game-play hours. These nations lead the pack:

  1. Portugal’s gaming scene thrives on community and innovation. Known for hosting various gaming events and esports tournaments, Portugal fosters a vibrant gaming community. Its commitment to gaming is evident in the growing number of game development studios and educational programs focusing on game design, reflecting a dedication to nurturing new talent and innovation within the gaming industry.
  2. Spain’s gaming culture is rich and diverse, with a strong emphasis on both development and competitive play. Spanish developers have contributed to a variety of influential games, and the country’s gaming community actively participates in e-sports (more on this below), with teams competing at high levels internationally. Gaming events, such as Madrid Games Week, highlight Spain’s commitment to celebrating gaming as a crucial aspect of the cultural and entertainment sectors.
  3. France holds a prestigious place in the global gaming industry, renowned for producing critically acclaimed titles and hosting some of the world’s most popular gaming expos, like Paris Games Week. The French government supports the gaming sector through funding and initiatives, recognizing gaming’s significant economic and cultural contribution. This support helps sustain a dynamic environment for game development and competitive gaming.
  4. The Netherlands stands out for its innovative gaming technologies and a strong indie game development scene. Dutch game developers are known for creating games that often push the boundaries of traditional gameplay, focusing on artistic expression and storytelling. The country’s robust broadband infrastructure also facilitates a highly active online gaming community.
  5. The UK’s gaming history is storied, home to iconic game developers and landmark titles that have shaped the industry. With a strong focus on innovation and creativity, the UK continues to contribute significantly to both game development and esports. Events like EGX and the London Games Festival showcase the UK’s vibrant gaming culture and its role as a leader in the gaming world.
  6. As a powerhouse in the global gaming industry, the U.S. is home to some of the world’s most successful game developers and publishers. The country’s diverse gaming culture encompasses everything from blockbuster titles to indie gems, supported by a vast network of gaming conventions, such as E3 and PAX. The U.S. also plays a significant role in e-sports, with numerous teams, leagues, and events drawing global audiences.
  7. Japan’s influence on gaming is unparalleled, with a legacy of pioneering companies and franchises that have become household names worldwide. Japanese gaming culture blends traditional elements with cutting-edge technology, evident in its game design, storytelling, and community engagement. Japan continues to be a leader in both console and mobile gaming, with a strong emphasis on creating immersive experiences.
  8. Australia’s gaming scene is rapidly growing, characterized by a surge in indie game development and a strong community of gamers. Australian game developers are recognized for their creativity and innovation, often exploring unique themes and narratives. The country also hosts various gaming events and conventions, fostering a tight-knit gaming community.
  9. Emerging on the global stage, Serbia’s gaming industry is marked by a vibrant development scene and increasing participation in e-sports. With a growing number of studios and tech startups, Serbia is carving out a niche in game development, focusing on innovative gameplay and engaging storylines. The country’s gaming community is enthusiastic, supporting both local and international gaming events.
  10. The Czech Republic is known for its contributions to the gaming industry through critically acclaimed game developers and titles that have gained international fame. The country’s gaming culture is supported by a strong community of developers and gamers, with events and meet-ups that celebrate gaming’s role in technology and entertainment. Czech games often reflect a deep level of creativity and technical prowess, contributing to the country’s growing reputation in the gaming world.

How much do countries earn from e-sports?  

As we’ve seen, e-sports—short for electronic sports—significantly enriches a nation’s gaming culture. This arena, where professional gamers compete in various video game tournaments for substantial prize pools, spans from international championships to regional contests. It not only captivates massive audiences online and in person but also underscores the technological and digital sophistication of participating countries.

Building on our exploration of gaming hotspots, we examine the economic leverage e-sports brings to a few of the gaming hub nations identified in our report:

The U.S. stands as one of the bigger e-sports-earning nations from our list, with players having won an impressive all-time amount of 261 million USD (at the time of writing). Fortnite leads as the most lucrative game for American players, with the highest earnings at 46.6 million USD, followed by Dota 2 with 17.4 million USD, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive at 14 million USD.

France follows with total e-sports earnings of over 52 million USD. French gamers have found great success in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, amassing close to 10 million, with Fortnite and Dota 2 also proving profitable at 7.7 million USD and 5,9 million USD, respectively.

The UK emerges as another high esports-earning country with 42 million USD. Fortnite is the top-earning game, with players taking home a total of 8 million USD. Rocket League and Call of Duty: Warzone also contribute significantly to the UK’s esports success, with earnings of 3.3 million USD and 2.2 million USD.

Japan has raked in a total e-sports earning of 35 million USD. The most winnings come from PUBG Mobile—a free-to-play battle royale game) at 5.4 million USD, followed by Shadowverse and Fortnite, both with over 3.4 million USD in winnings.

Australia rounds out our top five with an average earning of 29 million USD. Dota 2 leads as the highest awarding game, with Australian players winning 8 million USD. Fortnite and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive also make significant contributions to Australia’s esports earnings, with 3.8 million USD and 2.8 million USD, respectively.

Enhance your gaming experience with a VPN

Regardless of whether you’re diving into the vibrant streets of Paris or navigating the neon-lit landscapes of Tokyo, a gaming VPN is an essential tool for gamers around the globe. ExpressVPN offers a seamless gaming experience, ensuring that your online adventures are secure, fast, and unrestricted, no matter which of the world’s top gaming destinations you find yourself in.

Reduce lag 

While VPNs generally could potentially slow down your internet, they are also able to reduce lag for gamers by connecting you to servers closer to game servers, ensuring a smooth and responsive gaming experience.

Safer and more private gaming  

ExpressVPN shields you from DDoS attacks and potential privacy breaches by encrypting your connection and masking your IP address. Game with confidence knowing your personal information and online activities are protected, no matter which gaming city you’re virtually exploring.

Bypass throttling  

ISPs can’t throttle what they can’t see. ExpressVPN encrypts your gaming data, preventing ISPs from detecting and slowing down your gaming traffic. This ensures consistent, high-quality gaming connections, critical for both competitive and casual play.


To conduct the ExpressVPN Gaming Destinations Report 2024, we streamlined our methodology to objectively rank cities known for their significant contribution to gaming culture. 

Step 1: Selection of cities

We initiated our study with a predetermined list of 24 cities identified as pivotal gaming hubs across the globe. This selection was based on the frequency of their appearance in video games. The cities were chosen through an examination of various online sources, pinpointing locations with a notable presence in the gaming world.

Step 2: Evaluation criteria

Our analysis focused on seven key metrics designed to capture the essence of each city’s gaming culture:

  • Video game appearances: The presence of the city in video games.
  • Population analysis: Considering the size of the corresponding country’s population.
  • Gaming representation: The number of video games that feature each city.
  • Landmark count: An assessment of famous landmarks, specifically evaluating points of interest and landmarks, monuments and statues, and historic sites.
  • Gaming engagement: Analysis based on all-time gaming hours, leveraging Steam player data.
  • Internet speed: Estimation of the city’s average internet speed in Mbps.
  • E-sports performance: Evaluation of e-sports success by examining the highest earnings of players based on their nationality.

Step 3: Scoring System

Each city was evaluated against the outlined criteria and converted into percentages to facilitate a direct comparison and ranking of the cities.

Game securely, with no ISP throttling

Servers in 105 countries

Game controller.
Upgrade your online gaming experience today
Why get a VPN for gaming?
I like hashtags because they look like waffles, my puns intended, and watching videos of unusual animal friendships. Not necessarily in that order.