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How The Pandemic Has Changed Gaming

The coronavirus pandemic has taken the world by storm. One of the most widespread measures taken by governments in most countries is various levels of lockdown: in the most affected areas, people can barely leave their homes. In others, social distancing rules, and other restrictions are in place. With more people spending more time at home, more people have more time to play. This, along with the launch of one of the most anticipated games of the year, has already had a major impact on eSports.


What Games We Play

According to a recent set of numbers released by gaming intelligence specialist Newzoo, several game genres have seen strong growth in the last few months. The two exceptions are MOBAs and fighting games – their player base has remained mostly constant over the first three months of the year. Shooters, in turn, have surged, and so did deck-building games, gambling games, and deck-building games.

The growth of the latter was driven almost exclusively by Riot Games’ latest release,  Legends of Runeterra. The developer announced the game last October (the 10th anniversary of LoL). After a preview, the game went open beta this January and was finally released today.



With the recent massive growth, shooters have become the second-biggest genre played online today (after MOBA). The most-played title, according to Newzoo, is Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege. Big names like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and newcomers like Call of Duty Modern Warfare are also doing great. An influx of Rainbow Six: Siege players from China helped the game almost double its player base, and Escape from Tarkov, a title released by Battlestate Games, has also driven large numbers of players to the genre.

More Hours Played

Newzoo asked a group of American gamers about their gaming habits – and perhaps unsurprisingly, most of them reported that they play more now than before. Again, unsurprisingly, the main reason invoked by them for their increased playtime was that they simply had more time to play. And this was the direct result of the ongoing pandemic. Part of them (about 17% of the respondents) said that it was their way to socialize during the lockdown, and almost the same percentage responded that they increased their hours spent in front of the screen out of good, old-fashioned escapism.


Anything Else?

The same escapism has pushed many gamers to seek out adventure titles during the lockdown, which gave Minecraft (one of the top PC games in most months) a further boost.

The lack of live sports has shifted some motorsports fans’ focus from live events to games – Fox Sports’ eNascar broadcasts and FIA’s virtual Grand Prix events (featuring real-life drivers) brought virtual racing into the spotlight, and the lack of human contact has pushed many to play more “social arcade” games – like Overcooked and Uno!. The latter jumped to the sixth position in the App Store’s download rankings and even has live Twitch tournaments as we speak.

The ongoing pandemic – and the measures taken to control it – have had a major impact on pretty much every aspect of our lives. Gaming, it seems, is not an exception.

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