With Covid19 disrupting the lives of billions and the death toll crossing 8 lakh worldwide in August, all you have been hearing of is industries facing unprecedented losses, layoffs and the uncertainty about the future. 

With so many people around the world still confined to their homes months after nationwide lockdowns were imposed to check the spread of the deadly virus, one thing that a lot of people have been busy with is gaming. The online gaming industry has thrived in the pandemic and shown exponential growth.

With business operations halted, travel restrictions imposed and people working from home, there has been a huge demand for consoles and latest games. The giants of the video game industry, such as Microsoft, Nintendo and Twitch, have thrived in the conditions created by the pandemic.  According to an article in The Washington Post, Microsoft disclosed that the number of subscribers to its Game Pass service, which is like Netflix for gaming, had crossed 10 million in April only.

The World Economic Forum has predicted that the global video game market is forecasted to be worth US$159 billion in 2020 – about four times box office revenues (US$43 billion in 2019) and nearly three times music industry revenues (US$57 billion in 2019).

In May, Nintendo had announced that sales of its Switch console were up 24 per cent year-over-year, while its new game, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons”, had sold 13.5 million copies since its release in late March.

Indian gaming startups have also reported a huge spike in user engagement during the lockdown. According to a Google-KPMG report, the Indian online gaming market is poised to grow to $1 billion by 2021. The biggest factors driving online gaming growth in India is a young population and one of the cheapest mobile internet in the world. India has 560 million internet users, second only to China.

India overtook the US to become the second largest game download market in the world with over 5 billion installs last year. 

Paytm First Games has claimed that it registered over 90 million app downloads during the lockdown period with games such as ludo and rummy growing by more than 100 per cent. Startups such as Sportskeeda, a subsidiary of Nazara Technologies, claims over 25 million plus monthly users and 100 million plus annual users with major focus in the cricket, football and wrestling space. The recent PUBG ban might have been a bit of a dampener for gamers in India, it won’t be long before homegrown games make a bid for the PUBG user base.

The key question is whether the gaming industry will be able sustain its new found user base or will they move on to other things once the pandemic restrictions start ceasing? Gaming experts believe that though people may reduce their gaming hours once the restrictions are lifted but still the new fans added to the consumer base will be a long-term value for the industry.

With the launch of next-gen consoles such as Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Sony’s PlayStation 5 looming, the gaming industry may be in for a windfall. Game on.

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