With most of the world on some form of lockdown or quarantine, I thought it was time we looked at the impact of COVID-19, or coronavirus, on the gaming industry.
The most obvious and upsetting impact of COVID-19 is, of course, the sickness and death it causes. One of our very own, Rick May, a video game voice actor, sadly lost his life to coronavirus last week. Even the video games industry hasn’t been left untouched by the pandemic, and with every gamer struggling in some way, it’s affecting us all.
Past the essential human survival aspect, the second most significant impact on every industry is the recession. Coronavirus has taken most business right off the table, and as a non-essential industry, gaming has been walloped. A lot of the gaming industry is made up of indies or smaller developers, and even the Triple-A companies are going to feel the pinch.
Of course, there are large-scale recession worries that affect every business, but there is also an impact on being able to get games made due to teams being away from their workplaces.
Logistics during a pandemic are an absolute nightmare. Some countries have stricter border control measures than others, and if nothing else, everything is taking much longer due to the need for social distancing and hygiene measures. For the gaming industry, this has a massive impact on shipping games and merchandise. It’s meant canceled events, lost promotional opportunities, and physical game stores being forced to shut for weeks, potentially months.
But what about the gamers themselves? How has it impacted us? Well, let me list the ways! Downtime, servers, and networks are crashing, lag, technical issues taking longer to fix, higher levels of frustration in general. If you like gaming with friends, locally, you can’t do this anymore, and the support staff of your favorite game are on a skeleton crew and completely snowed under. You’ve also got all the delayed releases, canceled events and general quietness in the industry, to contend with.
Although, you do get a ton of extra time to game, so that’s a plus!
So what now?
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. I, personally, believe this could be a turning point for the gaming industry. Service providers are discovering that their tech can take much more of a battering than they thought. The service outages from increased demand were to be expected, but actually, the gaming industry can support that much use. And more people playing your game, or using your streaming service, is a good thing! It helps bolster the economy as well. With gaming being mostly digital, the industry is a pillar of the economy right now, especially with the increased demand for entertainment.
I also think the pandemic will help bring a lot of new players to gaming. I would imagine almost everyone has picked up a game during their lockdown or self-isolation period. There are going to be some hardcore gamers grown in this pandemic, who didn’t know they loved games before. They could be the next indie devs, for all we know.