From the shortage of graphics cards to lockdowns giving people time to play games, the pandemic had a transformative impact on the video game industry since 2020.
In this article, we’ll go over the impact the pandemic has had on players since March 2020 and the changes it caused in the video game industry from going remote to matching players’ new expectations.
Forcing billions of people into lockdown worldwide lead to a unprecedented need for high end PC components, most notably graphics cards so people could experience the new highly demanding games (Cyberpunk 2077, Half-Life: Alyx, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Halo Infinite, …) or play games they might have missed out on previously.
The unprecedented demand coupled with supply chain issues across the world lead to an historic shortage of graphic cards that is only now getting better.
The same factors lead to a shortage of new consoles, such as the new PS5, with scalpers going rampant.
While PC and PS5 players struggled to get their hands on what they needed, other players had no issues, such as Nintendo Switch players:
In 2020, Nintendo sold 28.8 millions units of Switch with 32.6 millions copies of Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2019), leading to record profits and a surge of casual cosy game players.
Overall, the number of players increased during the pandemic, likely as a result of the lockdowns and a form of escapism for the situation we were living in.
The rise of cosy casual games resonated with a lot of players, and is still now a staple in video games.
Video games events were also either cancelled or moved online, changing the way video games are marketed to players since, while moving online can diminish the hype of a event and doesn’t allow for as much viral content anymore, such as:
It also means those events are a lot more accessible to a lot more people, increasing the reach of studios/publishers and broadening the audience.
The sudden move to remote work in March 2020 reshaped the way video games companies worked. The transitional period led to some delays in releases, and overall changed the structure of work long-term. Many companies never went back to in-office work, while some went hybrid to allow flexibility, video games companies don’t require an office environment to do most of the work, and cutting out the office can be a financially sound decision while attracting qualified candidates wanting to stay/go remote for a better life-work balance.
The cancellations and/or postponement of video game industry events, such as GDC and E3, also lead to delays while studios and publishers looked to adapt the way they promoted and showcased their games, moving to online events and digital marketing campaigns.
In 2023, both events will come back fully in person, with social distancing measures in mind.
Video games being digital based allowed companies to adapt more quickly than other industries, and while some measures will stay in place (such as remote work), industry events are going back in person to allow for better professional connections.
In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the video games industry. With people staying at home more than ever before, there has been an increased demand for video games and gaming hardware, leading to supply chain disruptions and delays in game development. However, the industry has adapted to these challenges, with developers and publishers exploring new ways to promote and showcase their games through online events and digital marketing campaigns. The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of gaming as a form of entertainment and social interaction, with many people turning to games as a way to stay connected with friends and family during lockdowns.