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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

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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