How Covid-19 is driving the growth of online gaming

On New Year’s Eve 2019 billions of people around the world toasted the end of the year and hoped that 2020 would be better than its predecessor. Just two months on from then the world was thrust into turmoil when the novel Coronavirus spread from Wuhan, China to almost every country on the planet.

The magnitude of the pandemic was not really felt until one-by-one, world leaders around the world plunged their citizens into lockdown. People with bustling social and work lives were suddenly confined to four walls and asked to stay home to save lives.

Whilst national lockdowns may have had devastating impacts on a number of different areas of the economy, they have actually provided a boost to others. One such industry that has benefitted enormously from lockdown is online gaming.

In this article we’ll take a look at a few specific examples from the world of online gaming and discuss how they have become the accidental success stories of Covid-19.

Online Casinos

At the end of 2019 many gambling aficionados were predicting that 2020 would finally be the year that online gambling began to overhaul land-based gambling in terms of top revenues. Few could have predicted just how dramatically and swiftly that would have happened though.

With land-based casinos, bookmakers and poker halls all around the world closed gamblers only had the internet to provide them with their betting fixes. In a bid to take full advantage of this many online casinos upped the ante with their customer acquisition programmes.

Providers who were already offering new customers enticing bonuses and promotions even began offering potential customers ‘try before you buy’ services so that they could enjoy everything an online casino had to offer without ever having to spend a penny.

At time of writing there are no official statistics available to detail the growth of online gambling numbers or revenues since lockdown began. However, anecdotally, thousands of companies are reporting their best financial quarter in years.

These figures will go some way to making up for the massive losses in revenues that the sports betting industry has endured during March, April and May.

Call of Duty

In Autumn 2019 Infinity Ward and Activision marked the release of the latest game in the Call of Duty franchise with the exciting promise of a potential Battle Royale to come in the months ahead.

This was the title’s big chance to claw back some of the lost market share that it suffered when Fortnite and PUBG rose to popularity in the latter half of the 2010s stealing away some of its player base.

As luck would have it, Warzone, Call of Duty’s Battle Royale feature was released at the beginning of March when billions of people were forced into their homes 24/7. The release couldn’t have been timed any better if it was planned, with the figures showing that 50 million people downloaded the game between launch on March 10th and the end of the month.

On average, over the past month at any one time there have been a minimum of 329,554 players logged on and actively playing Warzone. Since the end of February Activision’s share price has risen from $61 to $82 largely thanks to the popularity of Warzone.

Mobile Gaming

When it comes to large debates surrounding the online gaming industry, mobile gaming is often overlooked and included as somewhat of a footnote. However, that certainly should not be the case, considering the impact that mobile titles have had on the industry.

Globally mobile gaming is a $68.5 billion business that attracted just under 2.4 billion players last year alone. Over half of the total time spent gaming globally is played on mobile rather than consoles or PC.

The Covid-19 appears to have only strengthened the position of mobile gaming in recent months, with cult classic Candy Crush retaining top spot in all North American app stores since March of this year.

Research from industry experts in the US estimated that mobile gaming had grown by 24% globally in just the first two weeks of March, with double digit growth the norm ever since. The release of iOS14 – the latest update to Apple’s OS – will undoubtedly boost the growth of the industry in the coming months.

The most important update is greater console controller compatibility as well as mouse and keyboard compatibility which Apple are hoping will encourage players to make the switch from console and PC to mobile.

Summing Up

Gaming was by no means struggling prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, but it is now in vastly better shape than it was at the beginning of the year thanks to the virus. With billions of people confined to their own homes it is no surprise that online gaming has flourished in the way that it has.

The acid test however will be if the industry can sustain this success as country’s ease out of lockdown and people are allowed to socialise and enjoy the activities that they have thus far been unable to enjoy this year.

Featured photo: Pexels / Soumil Kumar
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