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Why is gaming leading the entertainment industry amid pandemic?

Recent figures from the industry are huge, but the trends precede the pandemic and are closely related to the rise of a new generation of consumers

For a whole generation gaming was all about playing by yourself or with your friends at home, maybe at a LAN house, a decade ago. Today, playing video games is as natural as having an email, at least for the generation that’s paving the way for consumer behavior for the next five or ten years especially regarding entertainment. And that feeling has been even more present during these pandemic times, where huge companies and brands are discovering the power of social media, streaming, and games combined. This combination and its results will not stop after the crisis for one simple reason: they were here before, maybe you just didn’t see it.

The data that amaze people today are, in fact, overwhelming. In April, for example, the gaming industry doubled its presence in media ads broadcast by U.S. TV; yes, amid the pandemic, they are spending more on ads than ever before, according to a report released by And that’s just for the traditional media. 

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The presence of gaming in conversations around the internet exploded. Twitter has just released a report saying that one of their most commented subjects is Animal Crossing, the new game Nintendo launched for Nintendo Switch. The game led the surge in games comments, which had an increase of 89% in conversation alongside a 50% increase in unique authors over the same time period just in the U.S.. This does not come as a surprise for those following the success of Animal Crossing whose sales overcame Call of Duty, Mario, and Zelda records.

Booming sales

The most incredible number about the gaming situation these days is the spike in sales, according to SuperData, that reported a $10 billion spending for the industry in March. The figure is not only huge by itself but surprisingly big if we compare the growth inside the segments that it gathers. Purchases in consoles grew more than 20% and more than 50% on high-performance PCs; overall revenue from digital sales in March was up 11% year-on-year, according to the industry tracker. 

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This was in the U.S. and Europe, but China, the first country hit by the pandemic, is also registering this kind of growth. Over there, the industry saw a rise of $10.34 billion in revenue in Q1, over 25% compared to Q4/2019, said the International Data Corporation. At the same time, they said that the mobile game market has had a “46.25% spike compared to a year earlier to set at $7.82 billion revenue”.

Animal Crossing, the new game by Nintendo, led a surge in comments about gaming. Image: Nintendo

Trends that preceded the pandemic

But the thing is: this behavior has been set in the industry way before the coronavirus. Since 2018, the UK saw its gaming market be completely dominated by digital purchases, 80% of the sales were made this way. And at the beginning of 2020, SuperData released a statement showing the growth in the whole industry with a spotlight for the surge on mobile gaming, that’s expecting to reach more than $68 billion in 2020. And that was before the pandemic, which give us a fair amount of space to say that this number will be even higher. 

The main thing inside all these numbers is that all of those “trends” supposedly created by a quarantine are in fact the anticipation of a behavior that has been growing year over year for a generation that was always digital. They communicate through apps, they always bought online and they understand the real meaning of digital interaction. Companies like Epic Games, just to give an example, understood that a long time ago as well as the brand that advertised inside Fortnite

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Even though the release of a new Travis Scott song and a concert promoted during the pandemic was a huge success, with more than 27 millions unique viewers, that was just one of the many actions that Epic has made in the last two years – Star Wars and Avengers also did something similar in 2019. In Latin America, in a completely different approach, Ambev spotted the potential of live streams during the crisis and replicated the model made by streamers on Twitch in the country with music, interaction, and a whole narrative in collaboration with the audience. The result? Millions of people watch their favorite singers and bands online for hours and hours almost every day of the week