How has COVID-19, which has affected the world for more than a year, affected the gaming industry? Let’s look at the answer to this question together.
The corona virus, which has heavily affected our country as of the end of February last year, also known as COVID-19 it affected almost all industries. The game industry also got its share from this pandemic, which allowed basic activities such as transportation and production to stop completely for a short time. Compared to different sectors, the video games industry, which was affected both positively and negatively from this period, has been on the rise since last year.
After a year of home closures due to the pandemic and trying to fit our lives at home, the gaming industry is more popular than ever. Of course, while the demand in the consumer part has increased so much, the developers’ job has become extremely difficult. Developing teams of various sizes that develop games by working remotely are now opening up to a larger market, but the development process of games has started to become painful due to the constraints of the period. However, some game events such as E3 and Gamescom, which take place every year, had to change their formats and esports activities were moved to the digital environment.
However, the virus, which started to spread from China, has also shaken the electronic hardware supply. As you know, the decreased production for the last year has been having difficulties in meeting the demands of the users. Although it does not prevent consoles such as PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X from coming out, stock problems continue to exist with the effect of the virus. Let’s take a closer look at how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the gaming industry, with its pros and cons.
Events and esports organizations stuck in the COVID-19 barrier
The biggest gaming events bringing developers and publishers together with fans hit the COVID-19 hurdle last year. Due to the transmission conditions of the disease, the application of social distance rules worldwide made it impossible for such collective activities to take place. If you remember, while E3 2020, which will be held last year, was canceled, Gamescom 2020 was made digitally. Naturally, during the pandemic, the gaming industry was hit commercially in this sense. It is also certain that the E3 2021, which will be held this year, will be held digitally.
However, many esports organizations to be held offline in the last year have also been moved to the online environment. Previously, these events, which took place in physical environment, were earning companies a lot of money with their incredible visitor numbers. The transfer of the events to the digital environment has affected the revenues of the organizing companies and made it difficult for the professional esports players to struggle. In addition to cheating news from online tournaments held last year, players with connectivity issues have also fallen out of the competition. Tournaments with serious audience numbers such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, Ovewatch, Rocket League were held digitally. In this sense, the COVID-19 pandemic also negatively affected the esports activities, one of the most active branches of the video games industry. EVO 2021, the world’s largest fighting games tournament this year, will be held digitally in partnership with Sony. In fact, the impact of the pandemic process continues to make itself felt in the gaming industry.
Hardware production is also in trouble
Production has been greatly reduced, especially in the field of console and computer equipment. To give an example of production processes that have been difficult due to the COVID-19 outbreak, last year:
- Nintendo Switch production volume in Vietnam has been reduced due to the slowdown due to quarantines and the decrease of components from China. As a result, Switch’s supplies in Japan, Europe and North America have decreased significantly. Nintendo believed that production would return to normal within a few months, with a report published in May 2020. However, after that, the company’s headquarters in Washington, Redmond and in New York City flagship store snatched.
- Due to the impact of the Valve pandemic, Valve Index announced that the production of the virtual reality headset has decreased and that less shipments will be expected with the launch of Half-Life: Alyx.
- Konami postponed the launch of the TurboGrafx-16 Mini in March due to production issues in China affected by the outbreak.
- Atari postponed the Atari VCS, which was initially expected to be released in March 2020 due to the pandemic.
- According to Phil Spencer, Microsoft did not expect any delay in the planned launch of the Xbox Series X console as of April 2020. However, some of the games that will be released with the launch of the console have been postponed. (Ex: Halo Infinite)
Therefore, the game industry has received its share of the COVID-19 outbreak in this sense. As of now, stock problems of PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles continue in our country.
The smiling face of the industry: Sales
In 2020, when home closures were experienced, sales of video games rose to record numbers. While unexpected games have become hits in the past year, some games that have been expected for years (such as Cyberpunk 2077) have also appeared on the market. Whether the games are successful in terms of satisfaction or not, they have been sold quite a lot compared to the games released in the past years. Some statistics from America are as follows:
- NPD Group reported that video game sales in North America increased 34% in March 2020 compared to March 2019, while sales of video game hardware increased 63%.
- In the US, net spending in the first quarter of 2020 reached US $ 10.9 billion, up 9% compared to 2019, according to the NPD.
- According to NPD, it is said that from the beginning of the year to July 2020, sales of games and hardware in the USA reached the biggest figures seen since 2010. Game software and hardware made a total of $ 6.6 billion by the middle of the year.
However, some games also sold much more than expected due to the epidemic and performed well. These games include DOOM Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. So much so that Animal Crossing managed to sell more games of the series in its first week in the UK. At the same time, Plague Inc. Although the game was released in 2012, it experienced a big leap in sales.
Along with games, game services have also started to make a name for themselves since the beginning of 2020. Microsoft with Xbox Game Pass; Ubisoft with Ubisoft +; While EA came out with EA Play, the customers of other game services that were available increased. So much so that Xbox Game Pass had 10 million active subscribers in March 2020 and April 2020. GeForce Now capabilities were not enough to transport users, especially in Europe, and its capacity was expanded with additional servers. Now Turkey has also received rave reviews in output from the subscription service, but the service has counted the number of users accessing the sake of cases.
We’ve also seen charity campaigns from the game industry
- Nintendo of America donated 9,500 N65-rated face masks to state first responders when home stay practices were introduced in Washington. (March 2020)
- Twitch hosted a 12-hour charity broadcast on March 28 to raise money for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund in March 2020. The broadcast also featured music and sports celebrities who played games such as Fortnite and Uno.
- Some players have worked with the World Health Organization to support the #PlayApartTogether campaign, encouraging players to socialize online video in their games, rather than through physical means. When it was announced in March 2020, at least 40 more companies participated in this campaign, which was supported by 18 companies.
- “Games Done Quick”, a speedrun event for charities, changed its name to “Corona Relief Done Quick” by pulling the planned June 2020 event due to the epidemic to April 2020. During the event, a total of USD 400,000 was collected and donated to charities.
- With the Play At Home campaign, Sony gave the message to players to stay home by distributing various PlayStation 4 games.
The most popular games of the pandemic era
With the influence of people staying at home in order not to be affected by the epidemic, video games continue to run to a record in sales and number of players. People started looking for social interaction in online games rather than gatherings in the physical environment. As such, some games attracted more attention than expected, and some managed to climb above the expected sales.
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Animal Crossing: New Horizons has become a “platform” where people from all over the world perform their ordinary daily life activities and social interactions with the effect of “normal life” phenomenon changed by the epidemic. At the same time, low-budget games from independent developers also reached record player numbers during this time. When Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, which was released earlier last year, unexpectedly attracted attention, you remember that their servers were down from day one. Although Among Us was released in 2018, it became one of the most popular online games with its explosion in 2020.
At the same time, Microsoft Flight Simulator, which was released in August 2020, has attracted great attention as a safer travel alternative as it takes the real world to the virtual dimension. This popularity is considered to have increased due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In short, although the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted many industries on a global scale, the gaming industry is more resilient. While the increase in consumption and demand has thrown production into a bottleneck, video games and game consoles continue to rise significantly, as they are still the most lucrative entertainment product.