Pandemic Play: How Gamers Adapted and Thrived During COVID-19
by Ievgen Dubravin Last update: February 27, 2024
Adaptation, Transformation, and New Frontiers
The Covid-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill, confining people to their homes and altering everyday life. As social distancing measures forced individuals to find new sources of entertainment, the gaming industry experienced a remarkable surge in popularity. Games such as Fall Guys and Among Us captured millions’ attention, offering solace and connection during these uncertain times. We previouly wrote about 5 Social Games to Play While in Quarantine.
Additionally, gaming enthusiasts found innovative ways to adapt and continue their gaming adventures from the comfort of their own homes, utilizing tools like Tabletop Simulator. This article delves into the changes brought by the pandemic, the rise of popular games, the gaming community’s resilience in finding new ways to enjoy their favorite pastime, and what this means for the future.
Global Gaming Market 2020: A Spike in Engagement and Sales
Gaming consoles sales spike by 36% with 22 million units sold amid pandemic
The global gaming community witnessed an unprecedented surge in engagement, as individuals turned to gaming as a means of entertainment, social interaction, and stress relief. We saw a huge boost in video game revenue, with a 24% increase in mobile, 19.6% in the console market, and 11% in the PC ecosystem.
Many families decided to invest in a new TV since they were going to be entering lockdown, and many more invested in a new console, with a 36% spike in 2020, with more than 22 million consoles sold worldwide between January and July of that year. This was great for the industry, but even better, introduced new consumers to video games.
Animal Crossing: A Virtual Refuge
Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it became a cultural phenomenon during the lockdown period. The game provided a much-needed respite from the anxieties of the real world, allowing players to create their own virtual island paradise and engage in a variety of relaxing activities. Its charming aesthetics, soothing soundtrack, and sense of community resonated with players worldwide, making it a beacon of comfort during uncertain times. This was my go-to game during this period, helping me with anxiety, and clearing my mind off the new reality that all people were facing. The memes involving Isabelle and Doom Guy also helped.
Fall Guys and Among Us: Social Gaming Takes Center Stage
There were a couple of other games that capitalized more on the multiplayer and social features. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, for example, entered the gaming world as a wholesome battle royale and became a massive sensation on Twitch and other platforms. This delightful take on the battle royale genre captivated players with its adorable jellybean-like characters and a series of whimsical obstacle courses. For Europeans, it reminded them of the Jeux Sans Frontières, a popular Europe-wide television game show with lighthearted fun and friendly competition, very similar to what was present in the game. Fall Guys’ success demonstrated the appetite for collaborative and non-violent experiences, paving the way for future games with similar concepts.
This brings me to the biggest phenomenon during the pandemic, Among Us.
Originally released in 2018, the game experienced a massive resurgence thanks to a group of streamers. The deception and social deduction brought live to some of the most enjoyable clips of that year, with the Canadian YouTuber Disguised Toast and his group formed by content creators like Corpse Husband, xQc, Valkyrae and many more, forming a sort of alliance and collaborative sessions that boosted the Among Us popularity.
The simplicity of its mechanics, combined with the intense social interaction it fosters, made Among Us a global sensation. It served as a stress relief tool and source of laughter, with so many of us gathering day after day after day with a group, hoping to be the imposter.
But gaming doesn’t end with only traditional video games. Board games were also affected in a special kind of way. The pandemic as we all know, forced us to be alone or with our family, closed and isolated from our friends, a reality that didn’t tend in favor of those who liked spending their free time playing Catan, Wingspan, etc.
Tabletop Simulator: A Lifeline for Board Game Enthusiasts
This is where Tabletop Simulator enters, adapting to the new normal. The closure of board game cafes and limited in-person gatherings pushed gaming enthusiasts to explore alternative ways of playing tabletop games. Tabletop Simulator, a digital platform that simulates the experience of playing physical board games, emerged as a lifeline for gamers seeking to recreate the tactile joy of rolling dice, shuffling cards, and moving pieces. This versatile tool allowed players to import and play a wide array of board games virtually, opening up a world of possibilities for remote gaming sessions with friends and strangers alike.
The Covid-19 pandemic triggered a seismic shift in the gaming landscape. As people sought solace, connection, and entertainment within their homes, video games rose to the occasion, providing a gateway to virtual worlds filled with adventure, camaraderie, and respite. Hybrid gaming experiences, digital distribution, and remote play are here to stay and are now tools that everyone uses, even after the pandemic. Obviously, playing a board game face-to-face with your dear ones is much better than playing through a screen. Just keep in mind that thanks to our experience during covid, many of us learned that we have many options and alternatives, and we will make sure to use them for our needs.
The Future of Gaming: Finding Gamer Friends and Teammates Online
The pandemic catalyzed a seismic shift in gaming. As we sought solace and connection within our homes, video games offered a gateway to virtual worlds filled with adventure and camaraderie. Hybrid gaming experiences, digital distribution, and remote play have become commonplace, and their use will likely continue post-pandemic.
We at GameTree strive to become one of the forerunners of these changes, helping players find gamer friends, teammates, and like-minded individuals to play with. As we emerge from the pandemic, the ability to find friends for games remains vital, ensuring that no gamer has to journey alone.
As we look to the future, it’s clear that the adaptations and innovations that have emerged from these challenging times will continue to shape the gaming landscape. Gaming has proven itself to be a resilient and flexible industry, capable of bringing people together even when we’re apart.