Impact of COVID-19 on Global Gaming Industry
By: Eric Nelson
At the start of 2020, game enthusiasts across the world were eagerly waiting for some of the biggest and most-awaited game releases of the decade. Little did they know that a global pandemic would disrupt all these game release plans and events, forcing them to be confined to their screens only for gaming sessions.
As the world reels from the shock of COVID-19 impact, and businesses get disrupted and disturbed globally, the gaming industry is perhaps the only industry whose growth charts have gone up. Of course, the problems that the gaming industry has witnessed are trivial compared to the effects on global lives and businesses, this million-dollar industry has been forced to delay or cancel some very important gaming events for an interminable time.
One of the main highlights of these times has been the ‘social distancing’ awareness, spread and recommended by the World Health Organization. In the wake of this global pandemic, as people across the world have been confined within their homes, in order to protect themselves as well as the vulnerable ones around them, the gaming industry has cashed on the opportunity to strengthen their online sales and revenue. In fact, many of the game companies have seen a huge spike in their online sales and game subscriptions, thanks to the social ‘confinement’ of game users globally. Furthermore, in order to spread their games further,
Paytm First Games, a mobile-based online gaming platform reported a 200% jump in its user base over one month—a huge increase of 75,000 new members. WinZO Games, the pioneer of hugely popular PUBG, saw a 30% surge in online traffic on its platform. Moreover, a significant hike was seen in the number of game downloads since the pandemic forced lockdowns globally, resulting in jumps in revenues for game developers. Nintendo, with its popular gaming device Switch, has witnessed an unprecedented rise in sales, with Switch having been sold out at all major online retailers.
Playing in the Times of COVID-19: #PlayApartTogether
The case of Paytm First Games and WinZO are just the tips of the iceberg. Many other gaming businesses are taking advantage of the lockdown to introduce more games for global users. Recognizing the importance of games in providing entertainment to people confined to their homes, the WHO (World Health Organization) is encouraging people to interact with each other via games with its global campaign #PlayApartTogether. This campaign has been introduced in order to hold the attention of game users as well as to keep them entertained, and game developers have also joined hands with WHO to further this cause.
While the objective of this #PlayApartTogether has been to inform and encourage game developers globally to offer rewards and points to game players and organize online events in accordance with health guidelines, this campaign is in contradiction to WHO’s previous reservations about gaming’s impact on mental health. However, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, this campaign has been introduced in order to limit physical activities and keep people indoors. Furthermore, in order to spread their games further, it has been recommended for game developers to hire the services of reliable gaming translation services so they can spread their games to other countries.
Recognizing the need of the hour, global game developers have also been quick to take advantage of this campaign. Companies such as Riot Games, Zynga, Activision Blizzard, Kabam, YouTube Gaming, and Twitch have signed up for the campaign, using their huge user base to push their sales further. Unity, with its 3.3 million game developers has actively contributed to the campaign, introducing game points and rewards for its users.
Other game streaming platforms such as Twitch have been more active on the charity-collection front, conducting live charity streams in order to benefit WHO’s pandemic response funds. Sony has set up a $100 million global relief fund in order to benefit front-line health practitioners and doctors, while Ubisoft donated $150,000 for WHO’s Solitary Response Fund. Moreover, Nintendo, in addition to contributing money, also donated nearly a thousand N-95 respirator masks to the State of Washington.
COVID-19 and Social Responsibility
Considering the widespread impact that COVID-19 has incurred worldwide, the social responsibility efforts by game developers and companies have contributed to aiding millions of affected people across the world. But this global pandemic has resulted in problems for game developers as well. Many of the game developing companies, especially the ones connected or situated in China, are facing supply chain disruptions for a few months. These supply chain disruptions have made themselves visible in the cases of Facebook Inc. and Nintendo, with former facing severe shortages of its Oculus Virtual headsets, and latter having an acute shortage of its Switch gaming devices. In fact, based on the results of a flash survey by “Voice of Enterprise: Digital Pulse”, almost 27% of enterprises worldwide are going through supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19.
To combat the ongoing situation of lockdown, game developers across the world are now focusing on increasing their online sales, giving away reward points, and opening up premium access for game users. By doing this, companies are now witnessing a huge jump in their game downloads, with Apple and Google app stores having a million downloads every day. In addition to increasing their online footprint, social distancing has led many companies to either postpone or cancel their game events and launches. This, of course, has made huge dents in the companies’ financials and has hurt their bottom line considerably, but by shifting their focus on online game sales, these companies hope to recover the losses.
As the world goes through the tough days of the pandemic, scientists across the world are trying to make a vaccine to counter the COVID-19 virus. In a bid to keep game users entertained while drawing their attention to coronavirus cure, the University of Washington has developed a game to help find a cure for coronavirus. Foldit, found on FreeThink website is a protein folding game that may help find the right combination of proteins that will protect respiratory cells against the virus.
The game tasks the players with solving puzzles by creating protein structures of different combinations and each combination is different from others as there are a million combinations in a given protein. By focusing the attention of game users constructively, the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design hopes to find the right combination of protein structure that may help in the cure for coronavirus.
The Last Word
Although the pandemic has been extremely detrimental to the businesses worldwide, the game business has seen a growth surge. As the world waits to find a solution to the pandemic, game developers hope to increase their online revenues, while encouraging users across the globe to stay indoors and play on. Nevertheless, those game developers who had planned on hiring translation agencies for gaming translation services can still do so with the help of the right research and effort.