How coronavirus affected the gaming industry


Shot from the game Resident Evil 3 / from the game Resident Evil 3 /

As soon as the coronavirus pandemic hit the world, forcing many people to stay at home, online game rates crawled up. So, for example, the shooter CS: GO for the first time in its history reached the mark of a million online players. Dota 2 and the “battle royale” – PUBG – also have good online performance.

In addition, last week impressive results were shown by the digital game store and the platform for gamers – Steam. The service set a new record for the number of online players – 19 million 728 thousand people played various projects simultaneously.

The graph below shows an absolutely amazing thing. This is an increase in the price of a smiley featuring toilet paper from Crappy Day Enhanced Edition.

Price increase for toilet paper emoticon /

Price increase for toilet paper emoticon /

As soon as quarantine struck, gamers rushed to buy virtual toilet paper. At the time of this writing, $ 18 is being asked for one lot on Steam. And this – again – for the picture with toilet paper! And what about the huge number of games that gamers have acquired, since they have more free time to play.

Instead of real buckwheat, gamers buy virtual toilet paper /

Instead of real buckwheat, gamers buy virtual toilet paper /

It seems that the gaming industry not only did not suffer from the coronavirus, but also won. However, this is not quite true.

No esports and shows

Last year's Dota 2 tournament - The International 2019 /

Last year’s Dota 2 tournament – The International 2019 /

The first to feel the blow from the coronavirus epidemic were cybersportsmen. Initially, this affected only China, where the Overwatch League matches, the WESG Asia-Pacific Finals CS: GO finals, as well as League of Legends Pacific Championship, Pokemon Video Game Championships and many others were canceled. But, after the spread of the coronavirus around the world, e-sports championships were also canceled in other countries. For example, the first Apex Legends major was canceled in the USA, and the final stage of the Polish CS: GO tournament – IEM Katowice 2020 was held in the empty stands of Spodek Arena. It got to the point that the main Dota 2 tournament, The International 2020, was due to be held from August 18 to 23 at the Ericsson Globe 85-meter arena in Stockholm. Now the organizers will decide whether to cancel the event or hold it without spectators.

The inability to gather a lot of people in one place because of the COVID-19 pandemic also led to the cancellation of gaming exhibitions. And the E3 2020, which was supposed to take place in Los Angeles from June 9 to 11, suffered the most.

Microsoft Conference at E3 2019 /

Microsoft Conference at E3 2019 /

The Consumer Electronics Show E3 is one of the most important annual events in the world of gaming. It is there that the developers are trying to announce their future games, gaming devices and other projects. And it’s not just about trailers on the big screen. Often, publishers and developers staged a whole show. So, for example, after the scandalous departure from Konami, in 2016, Hideo Kojima triumphantly appeared on the Sony stage and announced the whole world about Death Stranding. At a Microsoft conference on E3 last year, Keanu Reeves spoke about the Cyberpunk 2077 game. Even those who watch the show live stream see E3 as a celebration.

Hideo Kojima at E3 2016

This month, due to the epidemic of coronavirus, the organizers of E3 2020 were forced to cancel the event – for the first time in the 25-year history of the exhibition.

In turn, in Kiev, the annual WEGAME gaming festival was postponed from April to June.

The only optimists in this situation were the organizers of Gamescom 2020. The largest gaming exhibition in Europe will be held in August in Cologne. Apparently, the organizers expect that by that time the pandemic will end and therefore announced that preparations for the event are in full swing. And this despite the fact that the Cologne authorities banned the holding of events of more than a thousand people. And only last year, Gamescom was visited by over 373 thousand people.

“The health of all visitors and partners of the exhibition is our top priority. We will follow the recommendations of the responsible authorities regarding major events, evaluate them on a daily basis and make our decisions after careful consideration. Preparations for Gamescom 2020 continue in accordance with plans for the target date, ”the exhibition organizers said.

By the way, a similar speech, shortly before the cancellation, was also said by the organizers of E3 2020.

Gamescom last year's show in Cologne /

Gamescom last year’s show in Cologne /

Gamers will experience another consequence of the coronavirus pandemic much later. Movies and TV series on games are postponed due to canceled filming. As, for example, this happened with the film adaptation of Uncharted and the second season of the series “The Witcher”, where they even had to disinfect the set, as one of the actors got sick with coronavirus.

No fresh releases

The most unobvious is that due to the coronavirus pandemic, developers may begin to postpone the release dates of new games. And although many have long been accustomed to purchasing games on online platforms, physical copies, that is, disks, make up a significant part of sales, especially in the console market.

The first to sound the alarm editor Kotaku portal Jason Schreyer. “Not the most important thing in the world right now, however, game release transfers due to COVID-19 will begin soon. Games that are scheduled for the current month, and possibly in April, should be released, and then anything can happen, ”he wrote on his page on Twitter.

According to Schreyer, many studios that have switched to remote work may not have time to complete projects on time. In addition, the procedure for issuing an age rating may be complicated. And without it, no game will be released.

Thus, while already released games increase sales, new releases, including The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima, may be delayed. The other day, for example, the company Square Enix, reported on his Twitter account, that due to the coronavirus, physical copies of the Final Fantasy VII remake might arrive at retail outlets later than expected.

Without new generation consoles

All Xbox Series X details /

All Xbox Series X details /

More than any games this year, gamers expect a new generation of consoles from Microsoft and Sony. In general, the console war has long turned into an attraction, where players enthusiastically watch the confrontation between the two companies. Microsoft will present the design of the new Xbox, and Sony, as Captain Jack Sparrow would say, shows something better – the logo of the new PlayStation. Microsoft talks about the main features of the Xbox Series X and shows the console unassembled. In response, Sony holds a conference at which it boringly talks about the technical features of its fifth set-top box for a long 50 minutes. In response to this, Microsoft, as if by mistake, publishes the release date of the Xbox Series X on the site – November 26, 2020. And then, apologizing, he says that the prefix will be released on New Year’s holidays. By the way, Sony also claims that the release of the PlayStation 5 is scheduled for the end of this year.

Xbox Series X trailer

However, things may go wrong, as both companies assemble their consoles in China. And there, due to the epidemic of coronavirus, factories were idle all February.

Business Insider Edition, referring Jefferies Group, an investment firm, came to the conclusion that there are two ways out of this situation. The worst case scenario is that companies do not have time to collect enough Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 consoles, and their release will be postponed to a later date.

The best option, by the way, is also not so joyful – the closure of production facilities in China due to the coronavirus could affect the starting run of the PS5 and the new Xbox. And this will lead to limited supplies and may affect the price of devices. That is, new consoles will cost more.

At the moment, neither Sony nor Microsoft are hesitant to voice the price of their new consoles. Therefore, gamers can only wait.

Positive impact

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey temporarily made free /

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey temporarily made free /

Due to the fact that many are forced to quarantine at home, the demand for video games, as one of the types of entertainment, has increased. Many games received discounts, and some publishers even arranged a free weekend, where anyone can download the game and play for several days without paying anything. Indie developers have gone even further by making some of their games temporarily free. So those gamers who now have a lot of free time can profitably purchase their favorite games.

But this is perhaps the only positive effect of the coronavirus on the gaming industry.

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Sergey Korshunov

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