While the COVID-19 crisis caused a global economic slowdown, the video gaming industry was thriving all around the world, especially in the UK. During the peak months of May and April, video game sales broke all previous records.
Moreover, the gaming sector was also successful at maintaining high engagement rates during the lockdown. Many new releases became immediate blockbusters with Nintendo’s Animal Crossing New Horizon selling over 13.4 million copies during the first six weeks of its launch.
The boom is understandable. As COVID-19 related restrictions rolled into place and millions of people became confined to their homes, they started looking for social-distancing friendly activities to keep themselves amused and escape from all the stress for a little while. Unsurprisingly, everyone thought of the same thing: video gaming.
Video Gaming in the UK
More than 1 million boxed games were sold during the last three weeks of May in the UK. This steady 3% week-on-week rise in gaming sales continued well into April.
It was reported that more than 350,000 boxed (physical) games were sold during the first week of April alone. Before the lockdown, physical video game sales were trailing at 150,000 units per week. This means that the sales more than doubled during the pandemic.
It is worth noting that these numbers do not include online sale figures because digital data is not available. It’s reasonable to assume that the total sale figure is much higher, especially since more people are buying gaming consoles. This is supported by another report on gaming console sales released by Console Deals. The report revealed that the online sale of Nintendo Switch, Play Station 4 and Xbox One continued to double, triple and quadruple during the pandemic.
According to the NPD Group, the gaming industry racked in a total of 1.5 billion during April, which was 73% higher than last year. Major players in the gaming industry like Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts and Nintendo also performed well in the stock market. As already mentioned, new releases found instant reception and became blockbusters. Final Fantasy VII Remake remained an all-time favourite for April.
Meanwhile, two of the biggest names in the gaming industry, Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts stated that player ranks had swelled rapidly during the pandemic. Activision Blizzard, the same company that released the CoD series said that more than 407 million people had played its games online every month in the first quarter of this year. The latest CoD game Warzone drew more than 60 million players since its launch in March. Similarly, Electronic Arts said that the recent edition in its Fifa football franchise attracted more than 25 million players from around the world.
US game sales hit the highest level over a decade back in March, with other key industry players like Microsoft and Steam reporting huge rises in player numbers.
During March, 18 video game companies including the live-streaming service Twitch, gaming giant Activision Blizzard and social game developer Zynga collaborated on a campaign titled #PlayApartTogether to encourage people to entertain themselves, maintain healthy social interaction and keep a physical distance. The World Health Organisation also supported the initiative. Speaking of the campaign Ray Chambers, WHO ambassador for global strategy said “Games industry companies have a global audience – we encourage all to #PlayApartTogether. More physical distancing and other measures will help to flatten the curve and save lives.”
Gaming Loneliness Away
As any gaming enthusiast would tell you, video gaming is not just about having fun or killing time. It’s also about seeking social connection, remaining in touch with friends and maintaining healthy interactions. Such interactions were the need of the hour during lockdown times when most people felt increasingly lonely and isolated.
Playing video games offered people a chance to get together, offer company as well as support to each other and stay in touch. Multiplayer games, in particular, make people feel less lonely and improve their self-esteem.
Most online have in-built chat boxes which allow people to express themselves and remain connected while gaming. Video games also bring people together by giving them a chance to meet each other virtually. Friends and family from around the world can pre-arrange a time to play and enjoy some quality interaction and virtual adventures together.
The Path Ahead
Video gaming is an industry that will continue to flourish during the years to come. The gaming boom may not last forever but the industry has managed to acquire a newer and larger audience during the pandemic. Here’s to hoping we keep on enjoying our favourite video games as long as we’re working from home – and even afterwards!
Planning on Gaming?
Video gaming is fun and healthy, as long as you’re paying attention to your body. Get an adjustable and ergonomic racing gaming chair to support your body during binge sessions and pair it up with a computer gaming desk to ward off muscle aches, fatigue and back pain. Stay hydrated, rest your eyes and take exercise breaks during long gaming sessions. Read more gaming tips