The island remained deserted apenasunos moments. Immediately, he moved the first neighbor. Hundreds followed him shortly after. And, in 12 days, the tropical paradise it had already registered a boom real estate: more than five million inhabitants. So many were converted in march to Animal Crossing: New Horizons —the latest installment of the video game Nintendo Switch that simulates life in a community with animals— in the title with the most downloads in a month of history. And that was released the day 20.
It is hard not to attribute this success also to the context. Forced to closure, many have escaped to build a virtual village in the middle of the sea. Others have preferred different plans: to drive a racing car, to lead an army or taking care of a friendship with either a fellow of the institute or a strange bug winged. The result, according to a study on eSports specialist group AcuityAds, is a 75% increase in the consumption of games online during the quarantine in Spain, Italy, China and USA. Something that sweetens, in part, the bitterness of the sector.
The video game suffers, as all, by the coronavirus. But it also outlines a smile. “Can be considered to be less directly affected than other arts sectors. We are” digital natives, granted to José María Moreno, director general of the Spanish Association of video Games. His speech covers the lights and shadows, as the situation of the cultural industry, which more raises at the global level. On the one hand, there is no longer physical sales. “And in Spain account for more than half of the billing,” says Moreno. “The fabric of more than 400 studies Spanish is the big hurt. It is based in good measure on smes and micro almost without financial muscle. Many are at risk of disappearing,” he adds. Games postponed without date, the lack of investment and the delay in the payments pose other unknowns according to UKIE, the main organization of the sector in the United Kingdom.
At the same time, however, march had the highest digital spending on video games in history, with more than 9,000 million euros, according to the consultancy firm Super Data. By Animal Crossing, evidently. But not only that. Services online PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo have suffered problems because of the barrage of accesses. And Steam, the main platform of games for computers, reached a record high: 24,5 million users connected at the same time, the last 4 April.
“It has been one of the sectors least affected, it is clear,” says Isabel Stems, co-founder of the developer Everguild. His company, which produces content for the card game for mobile The Horus Heresy: Legions, was also used to telework: the seven employees had only begun to share office in September, so it was easy to return to the previous dynamics.
“Our work has followed the same, we’ve continued to removing content that extend the game,” he explains. The players already were growing up —before march, they were doing interviews in order to incorporate three other employees, and the increase has followed in the pandemic, “especially in the playing time of the users”. In your case, mostly americans and russians. “Many write to us by giving us thank you, because the update of the game gave them the feeling that the mundoseguía turning,” says stalk, which is set to resume this week in recruitment processes.
There is also, at the same time, closed shops, and events that are postponed or suspended (as the famous trade show E3 in Los Angeles, which announced its cancellation in April). Gamelab, one of the conferences most important in Spain (and the most influential at the international level), this year has had to reinvent itself onlinefrom 23 to 25 June. “The virus and confinement have accelerated many trends that we were seeing,” says its director, Ivan Lobo. And he argues that the games have been shown not only as entertainment, but as “a place where to express yourself, to learn and to perform an economic activity. Enter Fortnite it is not only to play Fortnite, also involves connecting with your surroundings, use another type of social network”. The concert that the rapper Travis Scott offered in this video game, with 27.7 million users, serves as an example. And Gary Whitta, screenwriter of Rogue One: a history of Star Wars, has launched a programme of interviews to famous characters, all held in Animal Crossingthrough avatars.
Also for that reason, Wolf avoids referring to video games as a sector or industry, and prefer to talk of ‘ average’, because of its importance to social, cultural, and economic”. In addition to the numbers, the industry seeks to increase its prestige. Thanks to, among others, to an unexpected ally: the World Health Organization, who months ago joined the addiction to the video game to its list of mental disorders, now advocates a campaign along with the main developers to encourage them to stay at home and live adventures on consoles, computers, and mobile phones. Several companies have turned to offer it, free or with significant discounts. And analysts such as Matthew Ball emphasize other benefits of video games, such as the creation of communities and the socialization online. “Perhaps the most important impact of the covid-19 in the sector is its contribution to stop stigmatizing the virtual experience”, he wrote. “Video games are a social activity”, insist on UKIE. And underline the birth, during this crisis, different files online aimed at families, to find more titles appropriate for each age.
Although there is also, once more, the other side of the medal: doctors interviewed by the agency Bloomberg pointed to the danger that the closure will increase the addiction. The shot of the expenditure frenzied in titles free but they offer paid content, as the Fortnite, is another risk. To have the best look or rifle is tempting. But to empty a credit card, in these times, is no game.