2020 has been one of the most unusual years of the modern timeframe. The year started with a wink of discordant with an outbreak of a wacky, bizarre disease which was thought to be meticulously confined, and finding a cure was taken for granted. But as time grew, the disease, or to say the Covid-19 virus, became ubiquitous, spreading every corner of the world, baffling our aesculapian community, and thus, questioning our advancement as a civilization. It made us stay at home, caused a deadlock in our professional and quintessential works, and made not only the people but also several global economic sectors like tourism, restaurants, sports, entertainment suffer.
Okay, first forward one year apart, a lot of things remain unchanged in our lives. Quarantine, isolation, lockdown have become the new norms. We don’t get to travel as we all are maintaining social distance. The restaurants are closed with limited options for food home delivery. Most of the live events of the global entertainment industry are called off as they involve the physical attendance of the audience. Cinema theatres are shut down. Many movies got delayed or released on digital platforms for home viewing. As most of the ways of our entertainment and communication are narrowed down, many of us are looking for activities to stay entertained as well as to be more connected with our friends and dear ones while staying indoors. With all these conditions in this situation, “video game” seemed to be the perfect medium to fulfill our needs to many of us. Thus, while other industries were bearing the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic, the gaming industry rode on its cloud nine.
The video game industry was already on the rise before the pandemic as they have grown to resemble competition-based, interactive movies. n the pandemic, the rise of this industry has reached a new level and has reportedly become a bigger industry than movies and North American sports combined! Even the World Health Organization is considering video gaming to be an effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19 and launched a promotional campaign #PlayApartTogether alongside other game companies.
Leading database company Statista shows that the revenue generated from digital purchases of downloadable games has risen over $10 billion in March, which is the highest monthly sale figure ever recorded. According to the analysis by MarketWatch, most growth in the last year’s $179.9 billion sales was registered in the mobile phone gaming market at $87.7 billion, followed by consoles at $52.5 billion, and PC at $39.5 billion. The most sales growth in revenue was recorded in digital sales.
In the mobile gaming sector, Tencent’s PUBG was the most popular and holds the highest-selling title earning $2.6 billion, which was at $1.3 billion last year. Nintendo’s Pokémon GO’s revenue reached $1 billion in the first ten months of 2020, especially after its parent company, Niantic, made an adjustment to the game to make it easier to catch Pokémon staying home. The game was released in 2016 and continued to remain popular as ever.
The major console makers Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo reported higher than expected sales and are on the way to record revenues in anticipation of lockdowns. Nintendo’s Switch was reportedly the bestselling console in 2020. It was released in 2017. The next-gen consoles, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, which was launched recently, couldn’t make a noticeable impact in the sales yet as supply issues remain in most parts of the world.
Sony Corporation and Microsoft Corporation are also facing similar distributional struggles to meet the overwhelming demand of their recently launched next-generation devices. The paid subscription record of both companies has increased since last year.
The number of active users of different online games has increased significantly during the pandemic. Global multiplayer online game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s active online player number increased to 1.145 million in April 2020 from 767 thousand in December 2019. The ‘Battle Royale’ version of ‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ has seen an unprecedented rise in the number of active players. About 63 million users stayed active on Warzone in April 2020. Major game publishers and their games like Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2, Electronic Arts’ FIFA, and Need for Speed have also gained more revenue than before from sales and active users.
With the new virtual reality technology, the gaming industry is booming even more. The long-awaited game “Half-life: Alyx” has been acclaimed by experts all around the world for groundbreaking virtual reality technology that made it the most successful VR game till now and attracted almost 43 thousand concurrent users on Steam.
While many people are playing games themselves, a lot of people love to watch the gameplay online too. Many popular gamers are streaming their gameplay online and the numbers of the viewer are more than ever. The number of concurrent viewers on the most popular live game streaming service, Twitch, has increased to 2.4 million on average in 2020 from 1.4 million on average in 2019.
As almost all of the music concerts got canceled during the coronavirus pandemic, many famous artists moved to some well-known gaming platforms to entertain their fans. The massively popular game ‘Fortnite’ has held some mind-blowing virtual concerts. World-famous artists like Travis Scott, Dominic Fike, Anderson .Paak, J Balvin have performed in Fortnite’s in-game soundstages. These virtual shows have pushed the limits of how the virtual concerts could look like with artists’ avatars teleportation to a different dimension, underwater stages, and dazzling colorful worlds. All these shows were attended by millions of online players around the world. With all these online shows in the pandemic, this is becoming the potential new way of experiencing virtual music. Different online platforms are also setting up micro-payment transaction systems for artists and streamers alike.
Like the other side of the coin, the pandemic that has brought a significant revenue boost across the gaming industry also has its drawbacks. The E3 Expo, the most well-known gaming convention, got canceled along with many other gaming conventions due to the coronavirus. Many publishers delayed the release date of new games as the developers are forced to work from home. Microsoft, Nintendo, Ubisoft, and many other gaming industry giants had to showcase their new games and hardware on virtual streaming platforms. Most of the physical game sales outlets and showroom sales were dragged down by the online delivering rivals or digital sales. Video game arcades and gaming zones have also suffered the same fate as other “non-essential” businesses like cinemas and gyms.
Despite the setbacks, the video game industry has continued to push on through the pandemic. As the world is roiling with the second wave of the coronavirus, there’s almost no possibility of change in consumer behavior. Therefore, the boom in the gaming industry is unlikely to fall anytime soon.