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Ongoing Pandemic Sees Surge in Gaming

  • Steam surpassed 22 million concurrent users this weekend.
  • Early releases of DOOM Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons last week highlight the industry effort to help during the pandemic.
  • A silver lining in a troubling time.

It’s clear to see that the world finds itself in a troubling state right now. What started as a viral outbreak in the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province ended up jumping borders and going global since it became widely reported in early January, and the world officially finds itself in the grips of a pandemic. The effects of the coronavirus are severe enough toward the elderly and those with underlying health conditions that much of the world is instituting various levels of lockdowns, encouraging or demanding people stay inside as much as possible in an attempt to level out the infection rate and work towards a decline. Typically these are instituted as 14 to 30 day periods. Grocery stores are often mobbed, many businesses are closed, and hospitals globally find themselves working at capacity or over. To say the least, it can be a very stressful time right now.


The effects have been felt within the gaming world as well, with many events being postponed or canceled, including GDC 2020’s postponement and E3’s cancelation until 2021. But now that more and more people are staying inside across the world in self-isolation efforts, the gaming industry is seeing a more positive impact. With so many people stuck at home, game sales have been picking up with multiplatform FPS DOOM Eternal and Nintendo Switch exclusive Animal Crossing: New Horizons being two highlights over the weekend. This is perhaps aided by the fact that Gamestop and many other retailers were able to release the games a day early in an effort to tone down the risk of overcrowding for physical copies. Official numbers should be rolling out soon, but between the two the weekend was off to a very strong start as it is.


But those are just two games amid many titles from companies that are trying to keep users entertained indoors. For all the stumbles that have been made by the Blizzard half of Activision Blizzard, they did hit a high note by offering a 100% experience bonus for players on World of Warcraft for the next month. Steam climbed to over 22 million concurrent users, with roughly 7 million actually in-game over the weekend and the number of both is expected to keep rising. The surge is likely due to a combined increase of more people being at home, as well as a number of companies offering either free-play days for certain titles or sales such as the Stay Inside Bundle which features games such as The Binging of Isaac and The Legend of Bum-Bo.


What does it all mean? While the numbers are yet to be concrete, the surge is very noticeable. The pandemic has gamers gaming more, and it appears to be having more people looking for something to do at least dipping in to see if it’s a hobby that s for them. You may have even noticed an article or two across the web complaining about gamers bandwidth usages during a time of crisis despite the fact that video streaming services are shown to use far more. 

Gaming may very well be turning out to be a silver lining in a rather dark cloud over the world right now. It can even be seen as a vector for socialization in areas where meeting in person just isn’t an option right now, with a plethora of free to play games in both MMO and FPS scenes friends and families may just find themselves bonding over a quest line or a battle royale than lunch or a drink at their favorite pub. So the question I pose to our readers is this, how is gaming helping you right now? What games are you sinking your time into? Let us know down below. Make some suggestions of things other readers should play too.