We are all hopeful we have put the pandemic behind us and will never be faced with the same dilemma in the future. It was a tough time for everyone and for those not involved in front-line work, it meant spending many hours at home. However, it did provide an opportunity for some people to try new hobbies, perhaps something they had been putting off over the years due to a lack of time. Playing videos was certainly an effective way to pass the time during the worst months but did the pandemic create more gamers than ever?
Before we look at the time of the pandemic specifically, it is worth noting the number of people playing video games was already increasing around the world before COVID0-19 struck. However, there is no doubt the numbers of people playing video games grew sharply in 2020, when the pandemic had a grip on the world.
If we take the figures in the United States as an example, according to market research firm NPD Group, gaming sales in August 2020 increased 37% year-over-year to $3.3 billion. Looking at the same periods in 2019, that figure represents the fifth straight month where there was a huge jump in sales. Up until September 2020, $29.4 billion of video games were sold in the US, which was a 23% increase from the same period in 2019. Gaming consoles, computers and hardware saw an increase but it was the purchase of games themselves that led the way, either purchased digitally or on disc. That shows many people already owned a console or PC but were not necessarily active in buying games before the pandemic. Perhaps people purchased hardware but as highlighted above, did not have the time to play games and that changed in 2020 with the pandemic.
Not every aspect of video gaming benefitted from the pandemic and eSports events suffered. The top eSports events take place in arenas, with all the players present and enormous numbers of fans to cheer them on. The pandemic stopped people from getting together and many eSports events were cancelled in 2020, which was disappointing and led to a loss of revenue for the gaming companies. Some tournaments did take place without audiences and as most of the major events are streamed live, fans from around the world could tune in and watch the action. As much as 75% of the revenue gained from eSports is from broadcasting and advertising deals. Many of which were created and paid before and the pandemic, meaning eSports and the gaming industry did not suffer hugely.
Mobile gaming is big business and if we turn our attention to Japan during the first half of 2020, game sales on iPhones rose by 44%. There was also a significant increase in iPhone gaming sales in Europe and in July 2020, there was 20% more sales than the same time the previous year. Looking at gaming profits and in the second quarter of 2020, Nintendo reported $1.4 billion in profits, five times more than they achieved during the same period in 2019.
Moving to online casino gaming and this sector also witnessed gains during the pandemic. Those who liked to play regularly at land-based casinos found online casinos to be a good replacement in the early days of the pandemic. You only have to look at the huge list of casino games available online today to see why many people turned to this form of online gaming during the pandemic. Thanks to the high quality of the games, some people have been converted and continue to play online games today.
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