Just over 4 months ago the world was shook by the outbreak of Covid-19. Nobody could of prepared for how fast the pandemic would spread globally. With Airlines requesting government bail outs as a result and oil prices hitting negative for the first time ever. Just how well is the gaming industry coping with it all? All your questions in regards to How the Gaming Industry has been affected by such misfortune will be answered inside of this article.
How have video game sales been affected by Covid-19?
Due to the lock downs in place worldwide. Video game sales increased by as much as 44% some sources say. This was to be expected as people were beginning to be stuck indoors with little else to do besides killing time doing what they love. Between that and the well timed releases of Doom Eternal and Animal Crossing.(if interested you can read our money making guide here.) The close of March marked a very profitable month for video game publishers and developers financially due to the sudden influx of sales.
How Has Covid-19 Affected the production of Hardware?
With gaming sales so stable. Can we say the same about hardware production? This is no doubt going to be a nervy time for manufacturers and consumers alike. However Sony and Microsoft are facing the uncertainty with both reassurance and professional confidence. With Sony releasing the design of the Playstation 5 Dualsense Controller and assuring customers that the new console is still on course to hit shelves between November to December of this year. And Microsoft also stating that the ‘Xbox Series X’ is sticking with the same “Holiday period” release date as well.(Though many are speculating to know the exact date as November 26th 2020. But this is just speculation.)
Despite these assurances. Are they confident in their own promises? With the current times showing no light at the end of the tunnel as of yet. I personally feel these words were said with both fingers crossed.
With a lot of hardware products being shipped over from China, and China being the country of origin for the pandemic it is likely that the supply chain will be massively limited on these products. Though whether this issue will affect Sony or Microsoft’s supply line in order to meet the desired launch date, only they know at this moment in time.
If it’s one thing shareholders dislike it’s uncertainty. And being heavily influenced by the Chinese suppliers for a lot of the hardware. Both Sony and Microsoft Took a heavy hit in shares as people looked to panic sell their shares before the value would plummet. This lead to a huge downfall in their respective share prices. Though their response to this was through public reassurance and utter confidence in the products lined up. with Sony announcing the Dual Sense Control and stating that PlayStation 5 is well on the way for a Holiday period release. Whether these reassurances are backed by a legitimate plan is still unknown.
Although both Microsoft and Sony have both won back the trust of Shareholders, Having earned back a large portion of the worth. Activision-Blizzard on the other hand have acted with utter confidence throughout, having pushed out Warzone at a convenient time, as well as Season 3 of the Call of duty Season Pass. It’s almost like everything has fallen into place for activation to make some huge short term profits. And with this security Activision’s Share prices have remained on a steady incline.
The gaming industry as a whole seems to have took a slight plunge in shares value due to the uncertainty of the present day climate, though compared to a lot of the other industries. It appears to be holding it’s own rather remarkably.
How Has Covid-19 affected the E-sports scene?
The Esports scene has suffered somewhat. Mostly due to LAN tournaments and world championships being cancelled globally because of the pandemic. Although where they struggle on a professional level to uphold such tournaments. This has opened the doors to open tournaments in places that can instead publicize the games and altogether bring new people to the Esports scene.
These tournaments in question are tournaments like the one Sports Interactive are doing with their latest installment to their household name “Football manager 2020”, where there is a tournament going on between participating English football clubs to nominate someone, whether it’s a player, Ex-Player or even a fan to represent the club and manage their team on Football Manager and compete against other real clubs to decide who the winner is. FIFA has taken the same approach with a similar unofficial tournament where professionals of the game play each other in order to both publicize the club, the game and in turn the Esports scene in general.
Going back on topic to the Esports game on a professional level. Rocket League cancelled their world championships in Dallas, instead splitting the prize pool into the respective regional brackets. A number of other games have suffered a similar fate as this, due to lock-down rules condemning Social gatherings and events of the sort.
However, Activision on the other hand have announced a whopping £1 million prize pool for their upcoming Call Of Duty Mobile tournament. (See details and how to join here). between the planned tournament, CoD Warzone mode and the new Season 3 they rolled out earlier this month. It is evident that Activision are planning to battle through this Corona virus head on.
But with the uncertainty behind everything at the moment, a lot of companies are taking a back seat on hosting tournaments and instead it is the player base themselves that are organizing their own tournaments. And If you look hard enough, there are still many long standing League of Legends/Counter Strike Leagues still going strong.
Has game production been affected by Covid-19?
Although game sales have hit a profitable period with the corona virus. Has the production followed a similar curve? Unfortunately no.
quite differently to manufacturing companies’ struggles. Game developers are finding themselves facing struggles of their own. Whether they are a small indie company or a company making AAA titles. They are all feeling the pinch alike. This struggle comes from having to work at home. Initially workers were given their memos and all was expected to work smoothly through it all.
However as time past such companies have realized it’s not all black and white. Parents working from home whilst also having to look after their children who aren’t going to school. in addition to lacking the same communications that they had previously at their disposal whilst in the same office. The efficiency side of these workers are also being affected due to having to vary their working hours in order to accommodate their household lifestyle.
These are all varying factors that a lot of companies didn’t really consider to be hurdles, but now the realization is setting in that having workers relying on the internet to relay workloads, information and ideas just isn’t as easy and straight forward as it first seems.
Japes Hirons, Sole Developer at PeaHead Games and Co-writer at AIR Entertainment recently made an announcement on the companies Facebook page.
When asked about having to make the announcement he said;
“Obviously for me it’s hugely disappointing, having worked so hard to meet the promised date, only to be handed this huge setback. At first I tried to continue my work schedule like normal. But after a few days of having to work around the constant demands of two lively children and a teenager who is well into his back chatting years. Progress has been hit hard.
Obviously for me to promise a subsequent date upon the postponement was in my initial plans. But I soon decided that doing so would be irresponsible and a potential lie.This being because at the present nobody knows what’s around the corner. Though when things become clearer I look forward to being able to say ‘yeah this is going to be done and ready by XYZ date.
Now this isn’t to say that work has stopped completely, just that it has slowed down massively, and unfortunately alike many others in these worrying times, home life has had to come first.”
Obviously this is the problems of a one man development team. Others may be more fortunate. But with ‘The Last Of Us II’ being one of the first victims to declare postponement due to the Corona virus, one can only assume that these pressures are being shared by developers indiscriminate of size.
In summary. companies like Activision appear to be attempting to tackle the problem head on, as are companies like Microsoft and Sony, and due to this positive approach to the problem Shareholders are restoring their faith in such brands and the likes of Sony And Microsoft are on the mend. Whereas Activation-Blizzard is displaying a hugely impressive curve.
But with the problems arising from people having to work from home. Once everything that was nearing the finished products are released and have soaked up the profits from people stuck at home. What do we have in store beyond that? Later on down the line we could have further game delays, companies either not making the Christmas release deadline or rushing out an unfinished product. I personally feel this could also send shock waves all the way into next year, with game companies really struggling to pick up on lost time. Whatever the future holds, we can only speculate. The most important thing at this moment in time is we all do our bit to keep ourselves and others safe.