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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

Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?

Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.

How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?

Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.

How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?

As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.

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