COVID-19

Video games attract millions of players as the world “shelters in place”

Jasmine Garsd Mar 30, 2020
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What to do while stuck at home? Play video games, of course. Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Nintendo of America
COVID-19

Video games attract millions of players as the world “shelters in place”

Jasmine Garsd Mar 30, 2020
What to do while stuck at home? Play video games, of course. Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Nintendo of America
HTML EMBED:
COPY

A lot of industries have been hard hit during this pandemic with widespread restrictions on movement. One industry, though, is booming: video games. People are staying home, booting up their consoles and playing for hours.

In fact, a World Health Organization went as far as to recommend video games as a way to play with others while social distancing.

For many people, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused mass migration to a tropical island filled with talking animals. 

I’m talking about Nintendo’s new game, Animal Crossing: New Horizon. It’s sold millions of copies in less than two weeks. The goal? Catch fish, befriend locals, wander around. 

“It is a kind, nice environment,” said Dmitri Williams, a professor of communications at USC Annenberg. “And at a time when the world is dark and uncertain and grim, sometimes the best thing you can do is go into a warm, safe space.”

With people forced to stay home around the world, online games are also a way for friends to stay connected. Fifteen million people played the latest “Call of Duty” game in three days of its release. That’s a record. Neil Macker, a senior equity analyst with MorningStar, said more players also means more in-game purchases or “microtransactions.”

It’s not all good news for the industry, though. Sony’s new console, the Playstation 5, is supposed to launch this Christmas.

“Normally they would start production in, ironically enough, Wuhan, China, about right now to get enough consoles made in order to launch globally,” said Mike Salmon, senior vice president of games at Magid, a consumer research company.

Salmon said that timeline will likely be delayed. And new games are also hitting snags as creative teams have to figure out how to work from home.  

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the latest on the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

As of now, those $600-a-week payments will stop at the end of July. For many, unemployment payments have been a lifeline, but one that is about to end, if nothing changes. The debate over whether or not to extend these benefits continues among lawmakers.

With a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, are restaurants and bars shutting back down?

The latest jobs report shows that 4.8 million Americans went back to work in June. More than 30% of those job gains were from bars and restaurants. But those industries are in trouble again. For example, because of the steep rise in COVID-19 cases in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, increased restrictions on restaurant capacities and closed bars. It’s created a logistical nightmare.

Which businesses got Paycheck Protection Program loans?

The numbers are in — well, at least in part. The federal government has released the names of companies that received loans of $150,000 or more through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Some of the companies people are surprised got loans include Kanye West’s fashion line, Yeezy, TGI Fridays and P.F. Chang’s. The companies you might not recognize, particularly some smaller businesses, were able to hire back staff or partially reopen thanks to the loans.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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