The COVID-19 pandemic turned the entire world upside down in not just 2020, but 2021 too, alongside continuing to cause problems in our current global landscape too. Countless businesses around the world have had to close their doors to the public, and how we interact with one another on a daily basis has also been subject to great change as citizens across the globe retreated into lockdowns and the movement of people grew greatly restricted.
The impacts of COVID caused many people to rethink how they earn a living, stay healthy, and entertain themselves. With more people resigned to their homes, there was a huge surge in demand for gaming laptops and desktop computers as more people decided to take up online gaming to help them to switch off and have some much-needed fun.
Although online gaming has been around for decades, it was only during the pandemic that rates of online gaming skyrocketed across the world. As more individuals had more time on their hands and fewer places to go during the course of the pandemic, they naturally turned to online gaming as an immersive form of escapism. In fact, a survey highlighted that more than 760,000 Australians took up playing video games simply because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overall, those who took up gaming during lockdown reported that they found playing video games to be a positive addition to their lives, helping them keep their minds active and stay connected with friends and family. With more Australians than ever now playing online games, the market reached a staggering $3.4 billion during the COVID crisis.
Let’s take a closer look at how online gaming grew during global COVID-19 lockdowns.
Social Contact With Distance
Online gaming connects millions of people from different countries all over the world who share one common goal: to have fun playing video games. Throughout the pandemic, when it was all but impossible to venture outside of your home, gaming provided many people with an outlet where they could still enjoy some social contact. Players were able to chat over instant messages, speak to one another in real-time over headsets and be part of a huge global community of gamers that they could engage with. As you can imagine, the ability to have some form of social connection is one of the primary reasons why online gaming became even more popular throughout the pandemic.
Improving Mental Health
Many people dealt with a range of mental health issues throughout the pandemic. Stress and anxiety were especially prevalent, with many people losing their jobs, not being able to help relatives, or not being able to receive the help they needed themselves. The situation was ever-evolving and nobody knew what the future was going to hold.
For many people, turning to online gaming gave them an outlet where they could escape the constant onslaught of COVID news. Having something else to focus on helped many people overcome feelings of depression and stress during the pandemic, even if just for a while.
The Growth of E-Sports
E-sports, for those that are not in the know, is also known as “electronic sports” and is a term used to describe competitive video gaming. This type of gaming is a little different from the norm, in that it is highly competitive and can be enjoyed by both the players involved as well as a much wider audience. Countless tournaments have sprung up all over the world over the last number of years that attract a huge fan base, bringing hoards of excited spectators to stadiums, much like a physical sporting event.
Players can either play alone or in teams and, unlike mainstream sports, e-sports have the added advantage of being open to anyone. There are professional teams complete with analytical specialists or strategists, as well as coaches and managers to help players perform at their peak.
With prize purses reaching as much as $34 million, the stakes are high and millions of fans around the world tune in to see their favorite players in action. As more people took up gaming during COVID, naturally the popularity of e-sports also sky-rocketed, with more people than ever keeping up-to-date with what is going on in this space.
Acceleration of Existing Trends
The world of gaming is constantly evolving and although there were a lot of emerging trends pre-COVID, the pandemic definitely played a part in accelerating the market’s current trends. Delivery of games via mobile and cloud-based platforms is one such trend that is garnering more interest from gamers than ever before. Many big game titles are already available on mobile devices, and various streaming services have popped up, allowing users to access cloud gaming platforms where they can play without the need to pay for expensive hardware.
Will Online Gaming Continue To Thrive In A Post-COVID World?
Although no one can predict what the future will hold, especially in these uncertain times, the growth of online gaming is not showing signs of slowing down any time soon. With more people playing than ever, more interest in the spectator side of things with the growth of e-sports and technology constantly improving, we can expect online gaming to continue to thrive as we move closer to the post-COVID era.