Gaming has been a welcome distraction for the millions of people furloughed for the last few months around the world and has been one of the most popular forms of social connection with everybody stuck indoors. Whilst high street chains and many other industries have seen sharp contractions since March, gaming has sat alongside video streaming and the economic success stories of the global pandemic.
Last year was already a bumper year for the gaming industry, with firms generating $152.1bn in sales from 2.5bn players around the world, but this year is poised to be even better. The video games industry already accounts for around a third of all entertainment industry profits, and with millions of people isolating at home and looking for distraction and entertainment, 2020 has pushed gaming to an even broader audience.
Many gaming and technology industry events have been cancelled this year, from E3 and Mobile World Congress to the 16th British Academy Games Awards, but that has not stopped companies from releasing new games and bonus content for games already on the market to keep player entertained. Moreover, whilst hardware firms have been forced to scale back production, consumers have been purchasing more consoles and gaming rigs than ever, with the NPD Group reported that video game hardware sales in the US during March 2020 were up nearly two-thirds (63%) on the same period last year without the support of any major hardware releases and marketing campaigns.
Mobile gaming has also grown this year, with more social titles like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Call of Duty: Warzone proving particularly popular during lockdown. Call of Duty alone is reported to have already attracted 50 million active users just a few months after release. And with simple titles like Candy Crush still reliably popular with older generations of so-called “grey gamers”, the pandemic has finally proved once and for all that “gaming is no longer child’s play”, according to Futuresource research analyst Morris Garrard.
The iGaming industry has also found success as a form of escapism and entertainment during lockdown, with a BBC investigation showing that “online casino searches at an all-time high”. According to CasinoTopsOnline there are a vast array of Gambling Commission-licensed online properties for British players to choose from, and with Google showing search interest in such games is double what it was last year, it is safe to assume many of these firms will be on target for bumper years.
The pandemic has put huge stresses on millions of companies around the world, but for the online entertainment industries and especially video games, 2020 may well prove to be the best year ever.