Gaming in the midst of the pandemic
While many industries are struggling with COVID-19, gaming continues to hold up and even thrive in the crisis.
There are parts of the gaming industry that have suffered due to the pandemic (e.g., canceled game fairs/tradeshows, delayed release dates, production issues). But, as hundreds of millions of people “trapped” indoors are flocking towards digital entertainment during the lockdown, the gaming industry has found itself in a good position to fulfill the growing demand.
Steam has recorded the highest number of concurrent users since the platform’s conception. When the pandemic first broke out in March 2020, the digital video distribution service saw over 23 million concurrent players which beat all previous records. Meanwhile, the popular streaming service – Twitch – saw over 3 billion hours of content watched during the first few months of the pandemic. Microsoft also reported that during the first two months of the pandemic, its Xbox Game Pass service reached over 10 million subscribers.
It is no secret that the gaming industry has benefited from the lockdowns, but is that all there is to it? The fact of the matter is that COVID-19 impact on the gaming industry is not as straightforward as many might think. The pandemic has re-shaped the gaming industry – here are some examples –
Games as a way to keep fit
With gyms and sports centres closed due to lock-down, people are looking for alternative ways to exercise and keep fit. Active video games (AVG), which are played by moving your whole body instead of just tapping buttons seem to be the solution for many. AVG used to be seen as just another marketing gimmick, but the pandemic has revealed the real benefit of the game and led to its exploding popularity. Some examples of popular AVGs include Ring Fit Adventure, Just Dance 2020, Fitness Boxing, Zumba: Burn It Up!, BOXVR, Sports Party and Beat Saber.
Games as a new way to advertise
Game companies have helped to encourage millions of consumers globally to follow health guidelines in times of pandemic. For example, the #PlayApartTogether initiative taken by over 80 video games & interactive entertainment companies, in partnership with WHO, helped to raise awareness around social distancing by incorporating these messages into their games.
Other gaming companies have also helped local government to increase the awareness & acceptance (install-rate) of the local corona tracing & warning apps. Through in-game advertising & reward store (virtual currency), players are encouraged not only to install the app, but also to reinforce their positive behaviour to stay safe.
Games’ ability to persuade, reinforce behaviour & amplify critical messages will surely be an innovative way for other industries to incorporate similar approaches into their future advertising & marketing campaign plans.
Games as the new age SNS
In the absence of real social life, people are turning to games as a way to meet with their friends. In some ways, video games have become an ‘improved’ social network platform for them because of the high level of interaction possible between users. Users can not only connect and converse with their friends, but also do activities (like quests/hunts/battles) together. Video games have transformed beyond just social gameplay and have become in themselves a social network. Some examples of games that have become an outlet for socializing during the pandemic are Fortnite, Among Us, Minecraft, Fall Guys, Civilization, Valorant, Jackbox and many others.
Just like other social media platforms, marketers and advertisers will increasingly see the potential of games as a new platform for building their brands & products. This represents an enormous opportunity to connect with new audiences even more so than the current social media sweethearts – Facebook & Instagram (for comparison, there are 2.7 billion video gamers; while only 1.73 billion Facebook users)
Games as a virtual concert hall
During the pandemic, many events and concerts have been cancelled. Some artists resorted to streaming outlets such as YouTube Live, Instagram Live, or Facebook Live. However, watching the live streaming of a concert is no different than just watching any other recorded videos. The “feel” is just not there. It’s no surprise that virtual concerts on popular gaming platforms like Fortnite have become an immensely popular alternative. Last year, Travis Scott partnered with Fortnite for a concert that drew almost 28 million audiences.
Very different from standard streaming services, virtual concerts on gaming platforms can be just as highly interactive as a real-life concert. While virtual concerts in games cannot fully replicate the feeling of attending live shows; they can potentially offer a new way of spectating & performing for both the artists and the audiences.
With new technologies, the performers themselves transformed into an avatar that uses computer vision and motion capture technology to mimic their live moments & facial expressions in real-time. The performer can take the audience on a journey, just like when they go to a physical show. Moreover, players’ avatars can dance together to the tune of the performers. Even better, they are not limited by the laws of physics and gravity and they can do practically anything and be anything that they want.
How can we help?
At ADK Insights, we continue to monitor emerging trends in the gaming industry and translate their impact on consumer behaviours, providing insights to help businesses future-proof their innovation.
Our Digital Review & Social Listening tool helps our clients monitor online discussion of specific topics and buzz words to understand what the current trends and consumer sentiments are and to anticipate the direction they are going in.