Has Video Game Popularity Spiked During the Quarantine?
By Space Coast Daily // June 24, 2020
For the video game industry, 2020 has so far been a very interesting year indeed. Of course, most of the world has been under some form of quarantine.
In some places, people have had to stay home for months, whereas in other places, lockdown measures haven’t been as strict, but have still been enough to have a major effect on people’s lives. Many people around the world have found themselves stuck at home.
Millions have been left temporarily or permanently unemployed and have had months with loads of time on their hands. This is where video games come in.
Thanks to many millions of people being in the house looking for ways to pass the time, the video game industry has benefitted enormously. Here’s a further look at how this is happening.
As mentioned in the introduction, people all over are playing video games at home a lot more. While in quarantine, they want to keep themselves busy and for many, video games are an ideal escape.
They’re fun, compelling, and let you switch off from thoughts about what’s going on in the real world, and instead focus on an imaginary one.
Video games offer the chance to ignore reality for a while. Having said that, games with topical themes and storylines, such as Plague Inc., Doom Eternal, and Pandemic have experienced significant increases in sales.
Many gamers are able to dedicate more time to gaming, and many people who weren’t really into gaming before have now taken it up as something to do. It’s been reported that sales of video games have soared thanks to people playing more during the quarantine.
Not only are people ordering more physical copies, but they’re also downloading new games onto their internet-connected consoles to play.
It can only be a good thing if more people are gaming. This means that more money is going to the developers, who can use that money to create new games and keep up the cycle of regularly releasing new games.
It’s not just video games that have seen a boost, online casino games have, too. Many sites that offer games such as free slot games with bonus rounds have had an increase in player numbers.
In fact, the same can be said for just about anything that people can experience at home through the internet.
Some industries have been severely affected by what’s been going on. The travel industry is a good example. With foreign travel heavily restricted in many parts of the world – and even local travel – things like hotels, transport and tourist attractions are all taking a huge hit.
Many businesses in different industries have been forced to close, and many others have been forced to reduce their workforces to help them survive.
As for the video game industry, it’s a lot more resilient than others. A lot of the work that goes on can be done at home remotely – that’s exactly what many operators, publishers and developers have been doing since quarantine measures came into place.
They’ve continued to work on upcoming titles and the disruption to new game releases planned for around this time of the year have been minimal.
What helps is that so many games these days can be downloaded onto your game console at home; gone are the days when you would have to go out and by a disc or cartridge in order to play a video game.
Even though the video game industry is adapting well and isn’t being affected as badly as other industries, it’s still experiencing some negative effects.
There are two main areas that have been affected: the production of hardware and real-life events.
• Production of hardware. Current affairs have had a knock-on effect on both the production and distribution of video game hardware, i.e. gaming consoles and physical game cartridges.
• Nintendo Switch, for example, had to drastically reduce its production efforts and wasn’t able to manufacture and distribute as many consoles as it was planning to. This reduction in the console’s production was down to quarantines in different countries and the fact that in China, there was a significant disruption to the production of certain parts.
• The TurboGrafx-16 Mini from Konami also had its production in China slowed down. It was originally scheduled to have a worldwide release on March 19 through Amazon, though this was delayed in all countries except Japan because of the production slowdown. The Atari VCS was also meant to come out in March but has had its release date put back indefinitely because of what’s going on.
• Microsoft’s Xbox Series X, the first console in Xbox’s fourth generation, was announced at The Game Awards 2019 in December of last year. At the time, its release was given as Q4 2020. There have been some concerns that the console’s release will have to be put back. However, it’s been reported that the release is still going ahead as planned, and gamers will be able to enjoy playing games on the new console when it comes out later this year. Some games that were meant to be available around the launch date are likely going to be delayed.
• Real-life events. Then there are events. These are a big deal for the video game industry because they bring people from all sectors together and are where many big new games and consoles are launched. For months now, large public gatherings haven’t been able to go ahead in many parts of the world. Therefore, loads of events planned for 2020 have either been postponed or canceled outright.
• Events in the USA. E3 2020, the twenty-sixth iteration of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (the world’s largest video game trade event), was meant to take place in early June in Los Angeles. Because of quarantine restrictions, it was ultimately canceled. This marked the first year since the event began back in 1995 that it won’t be taking place. Many of the announcements, displays and showcases that were going to be part of E3 2020 are still going ahead, just not as part of that particular event.
• Events in Europe and Asia. Some of the many other events from around the world that have been canceled include the Taipei Game Show, the Game Developers Conference, the 16th British Academy Games Awards and Paris Games Week, to name a few. Some events have been able to move part of what they were going to offer online. For example, Gamescom, a video game trade fair held annually in Cologne, is going to run a digital event instead of a physical one. While tickets for the canceled in-person event have been refunded, it seems that new tickets will be going out for people who want to experience the online event. It’s expected that viewers watching on computers will get to watch things like interviews, demonstrations and product releases.
Where Does the Industry Go from Here?
As of late June, things are steadily improving in many countries, and restrictions are gradually being lifted. The video game industry, like others, has been affected by what’s been going on to a large degree, though thankfully some of the effects have been positive.
Because of the large online nature of the industry, it’s been able to not only survive but also thrive. While events have been canceled and certain games and consoles have been delayed, what’s most important is that people everywhere are still gaming and by doing that, they’re keeping the industry alive.
Hopefully, the delays and cancellations won’t have too big of a knock-on effect on the industry as a whole. If restrictions continue to get lifted, things should get back on track.
While some events have been canceled outright, at least next year they should all be able to go ahead without a hitch.
As for hardware production, there’s every chance that before the end of the year (or sooner), production levels will get back to normal, and gaming companies can satisfy the demand for their consoles.
2020 will be seen as a blip for the industry. It’s hoped that the negative effects caused by the current situation will only be temporary and that things will get back to normal sooner rather than later.
It’s also hoped that as things settle down, the increased number of people gaming will continue to stay high, enabling the industry to be more profitable than ever before.
Having said that, there’s every chance that the number of gamers will go down somewhat as people begin to resume their normal lives, so the spike in player numbers may well be a short-term phenomenon.
It’s still not certain exactly how long it’s going to take for the video game industry to get back to normal and do things without restrictions, delays or cancellations.
What players should appreciate is the fact that the industry has, on the whole, fared quite well during the ongoing situation and that things could have been worse for it.
There’s no doubt that many developers will be taking inspiration from current events and will work elements from what’s going on now into future titles.
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