COVID-19 lockdown bolsters online gaming industry

Jun 2, 2020 | COVID-19, Sports

W Series champion Jamie Chadwick is pictured in her apartment in Mayfair, London on her Esports League set-up on May 5, 2020. (Jamie Chadwick/REUTERS.)
Shruti Mehra

Online gaming platforms and services are witnessing a surge in engagement because of the ongoing global pandemic. 

Due to self-isolation and quarantine, higher numbers of people are online gaming and playing Esports.

“Coronavirus and global lockdowns have made online gaming the best and safest form of entertainment,” Manish Karki, Esports analyst at NODWIN Gaming said.

Microsoft shared its third-quarter financial results and confirmed that Xbox services and content revenue increased by two per cent due to COVID-19 on April 29.  Net income was reported to have increased 22 per cent to $10.8 billion.

“More than 10 million people have subscribed to Xbox Game Pass,” Frank X. Shaw, communications lead at Microsoft, shared on Twitter.

A video showing the increase in the number of Xbox Game Pass multiplayer gaming around the globe. April 30, 2020 (Source: Microsoft)

Another global gaming service provider, Steam, recorded a remarkable number of concurrent players where more than 20.3 million people played at the same time.

The total spending on video game accessories, software, game cards and hardware reached more than $1.6 billion in March, said a report by NPD group, an American research company.

The NPD group reported the rise in the sales of Nintendo Switch’s game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, more than doubled.

The increasing numbers of live streaming platforms like YouTube and Twitch have also contributed to the surging engagement of online gaming.

Although the pandemic has boosted sales of online gaming subscriptions, it has adversely affected many offline events. 

“People love coming to stadiums to cheer for their favourite teams, but due to coronavirus, major offline events have cancelled,” Karki said. “Every organization needs big events to establish themselves and boost their sales to gain profits.”

The largest trade event, Electronic Entertainment Expo 2020 (E3), has been cancelled because of the pandemic, which primarily affected indie publishers and developers.

The ninth annual Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo and Mobile World Congress, which welcomes many China-based vendors and developers, has also cancelled.

Karki said China is one of the biggest exporters and producers of gaming consoles, hardware and accessories but due to the current pandemic, the supply chain has been primarily affected.

Esports creates the biggest market for advertising, sponsorship and brand investment, but due to the cancellation of significant events, the organizers have to bear the consequences.

Although the pandemic has its impact on offline events related to online gaming, it is still estimated to be worth $159 billion in 2020, bolstered mainly by the Asia-Pacific gaming market, according to a report by gaming industry’s analytics and insights provider Newzoo.