From online conferences to cloud gaming – the pandemic has turned out to be a deciding factor in furthering the innovation of gaming industry
In spring 2020, gaming quickly emerged as one of the most popular activities during the initial outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic as user engagement and spending surged between February and April of that year. Especially younger generations spent more time on gaming as the medium was a convenient way to spend time during initial stay at home orders, lockdowns, and social distancing.
As many may know – Covid has lead to a majority of the world being shut at home, and in many countries (Especially in South East Asia Countries) where people are less likely to have console or computer devices for their gaming needs, the market has been gravitating toward mobile gaming.
Why? It’s not surprising why because mobile gaming is easily the most accessible gaming method with how cheap it is and how everyone owns a phone. The pandemic has seen surgence of party games such as Among Us that allows people to pseudo-socialize with one another. Meanwhile, competitive MOBAs such as PUBG, Mobile Legends are just as popular as ever.
The videogame industry in particular has seen a boom, with Steam recording the highest number of concurrent users since the platform’s conception, and Verizon noting an increase in gaming traffic of 75% during peak hours. On the other hand, supplies of vital components for the Nintendo Switch dwindled due to production slowdown in China and Valve shipped fewer “Valve Index” virtual reality headsets due to similar production issues caused by COVID-19. In such uncertain times, it’s important to look at the ways in which an industry once described as “recession-proof” has risen to the challenge in some respects, but struggled in others.
In 2020, the global number of gaming video content viewers surpassed 1.2 billion, up from 944 million 2019. The most popular streaming platform to watch gaming livestreams is Twitch, followed by YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming. Gaming livestreams are inherently social as the ability interact with streamers and other viewers via chat enhances the shared feeling of experiencing a game together.
In 2020, Twitch audiences watched over 1 trillion minutes of video content. This is almost double the amount of time spent in 2019, where viewers watched approximately 660 billion minutes’ worth of content. During COVID-19, streaming platforms did not only reach new viewers but also increased the number of streamers putting out video content. The active number of streamers on Twitch stands at 9.36 million as of April 2021, compared to 7.2 million streamers a year ago and 3.9 million in January 2020.
How Will Things Be Like Going Forward
From fluctuating release date for new games, questions of supply chain for next generation consoles, and game studios continuing to monopolize the market by releasing on exclusive platforms, there will inevitably be many challenges going forward.
Despite all that, challenges is a good sign of a developing industry as opposed to a stagnating one. The industry has experienced growth with strong software sales and an ever-growing customer base keeping both virtual and real economies afloat. The industry’s pioneering approach to technology, as well as its flexibility and adaptability, have been key to its growth to date; and it is these qualities that will enable it to continue to thrive in the months ahead.