Prospering Throughout a Global Pandemic: The Video Game Industry

While movie theaters were being shut down by the hundreds, people turned to video games as Nintendo Switches and PS5’s were being sold by the thousands. To millions, it seemed that video games were the perfect outlet to connect with others and distract themselves from the disease-ridden nightmare of a world. Gaming soon became an escape from reality for everyone– not just for the youth, but even for individuals in their 50’s, 60’s, and beyond! The digital world became a paradise for anyone who could get their hands on a phone, console, or computer. 

Video gaming’s booming popularity is reinforced with data from The NPD Group. This American business research company showed that four out of every five U.S. consumers played a video game between June 2020 to November 2020. Playtimes and gaming-related spending for all age groups increased dramatically during that period, with seniors between the ages of 55 and 64 having a 48% increase in playtime and a 73% increase in expenses. Although these numbers have likely decreased as teenagers return to school and adults to work, the pandemic drew many into the world of video games.

And thus, people explored fantastical worlds while fighting vicious monsters fearlessly. They worked together in team-based shooter games or trained their minds through mobile brain games; they let out their frustrations over canceled sports games by rooting for in-game FIFA and Madden teams. Games like Among Us, Genshin Impact, and an abundance of other multiplayer games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Minecraft, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons became virtual sensations.

Though I can’t go into depth on each one, I am personally partial to Animal Crossing’s delightfully cheerful graphics, characters, and atmosphere. Being stuck at home, I couldn’t share a smile with a loved one. Yet, visiting another’s island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons helped me unwind after another dull, dreary day. And hey, I’m sure that over thirty million other buyers can agree with me on that. 

It’s undeniable that the possibility of a risk-free social connection was appealing to many. Players gathered onto social media apps like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok to share their love for a game through posts and videos. Shared interests in a game likely sparked numerous friendships– why?  Well, having fun is universal no matter one’s location on the globe. Even notable figures like Lady Gaga, Lil Nas X, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined the craze. Some celebrities even hopped into games with fans!

Ultimately, the sudden excitement for gaming led to unexpected profits for the video game industry despite COVID-19 restrictions. Case in point: companies like Nintendo, Xbox Game Studios, and Riot Games saw a surge in business as their 2020 games helped those locked inside destress with some needed fun. With an overall 34% increase in software sales and a 63% increase in hardware sales from March 2019 to March 2020, an estimated $177.8 billion was brought in last year (2020). That’s more than double the sports industry, which cashed in around $73.7 billion! 

Additionally, video game developers weren’t the only ones rolling in cash last year. Twitch, a live-streaming platform centered on video games, increased from 1.25 million viewers in 2019 to 2.1 million in 2020. Many tuned in to chat with content creators as they gamed. Additionally, YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming attracted millions of more viewers. Overall, the live-streaming sector displayed significant growth in viewership. 

To all our Royals, if you were one of those people who discovered a treasured pastime in gaming, perhaps you may want to check out our esports team/club here at Quartz Hill! They are currently holding tryouts in Room 102 (contact Mr. Fields for more info) to find enthusiastic teammates for future tournaments. Even if you don’t make the cut, you are still more than welcome to join the club. Here’s your opportunity to challenge yourself and find new friends– start this school year with a bang!