In times of solace, video games have always been there for us. They’ve allowed us to live vicariously through online avatars for hours of intense, interactive gameplay. And for what the world has been dealing with for the past five-months with COVID-19, the online casino sector has truly taken its market presence to the next level, capitalizing on a global pandemic.
In the U.S., the average gamer plays for six hours and 46 minutes each week, according to a report on The State of Online Gaming. This number is slightly higher than the global average of six hours and 20 minutes each week.
But is the world turning to gaming (again) out of boredom? Definitely not. It’s a cry for help of sorts to be social…with literally anyone out there. New gaming capabilities injected into new technologies like artificial intelligence (A.I.) and smart-technology allow people to engage with one another virtually anywhere.
One gamer on Twitter even shared that “[she] was spending a lot more time just playing games for fun because [she] do[esn’t] have the same level commitments.”
This is the first-time the world, collectively, is experiencing a universal feeling–social isolation. This is the one-time where it would appear that violence abroad and domestic altercations have come to a pause. We aren’t seeing hourly news reports on bombings, school shootings, or international disputes that have seemed to take-over the news.
Instead, we are seeing the world more disconnected (yet connected) at the same time…for the first-time. And the one instrument to bring the world together is the world of online gaming. We all have felt cut-off from our network of colleagues, friends, and acquaintances. Countering these feelings can be solved by picking up old technologies, like video-games or even traditional communication methods like writing some snail-mail or even sending copious amounts of email.
By 2021, the online gaming industry is predicted to hit $1.1 billion. Interestingly enough, those figures were calculated pre-COVID 19. With what appears to be no end-in-sight for the coronavirus, the likelihood that the profit margins for online gaming increase are extremely high.
And why is that? The world has gone digital, whether you like it or not. You’re stuck in the house indefinitely and have only so much energy in you before you drive yourself insane. Thus, we all escape to the world of black mirrors and cyberspace.
Since countries like the U.S., Canada, India, France, and the U.K. have implemented their stay-at-home orders, mobile applications developers have introduced new innovations to users to help keep “busy” during the quarantine period. And the best part is, it’s been done with very little advertising and almost entirely by word-of-mouth.
House Party Anybody?
With international applications like Houseparty emerging as the most popular games during the quarantine period–hell, we’ve even used it to communicate with our staff abroad and in the U.S., this is vital time for developers and companies to make money through advertising and relatively cheap, affordable in-game purchases.
Houseparty, a video-chatting app, owned and operated by the American billion-dollar gaming powerhouse, Epic Games, has become an absolute hit across the world. Epic Games, known for its global success with Fortnite, acquired the app last summer, which allows up to 8 people to chat simultaneously, while also offering games and other interactive features.
Regardless of Houseparty’s sudden surge in popularity abroad had very little to do with location and everything to do with the application’s apparent seamless integration of video chats with built-in gaming options for a fairly large group of users. In other words, high user engagement and even more time for individuals to spend time on the app and of course share it with their friends.
In March, Houseparty hit over 651,000 downloads–a 2600% increase from February’s 25,000 downloads, according to VentureBeat. And you better believe this will continue to be a success as the volume of user engagement continues–as lockdowns in the U.S., France, and the U.K. don’t seem to be ending anytime soon, according to The New York Times.
Surely by now, you’ve heard of the video distribution and conferencing platform, Zoom. In recent weeks, Zoom has seen a sharp rise in traffic, with the app downloaded more than 50 million times on the Google Play Store alone, according to Grit Daily.
As far as keeping “business” going, Zoom Video Communications has benefited immensely during the quarantine period. With a historic stock market sell-off, the company’s stock has risen from $68.72 per share at the beginning of 2020 to $141.89 per share as of the evening of writing this article.
However, the platform recently came under scrutiny for a cybersecurity threat known as ‘Zoom Bombing’, whereby attackers are able to identify, discover, and infiltrate insecure video conferences. What this threat unraveled for the world is that Zoom is definitely not an end-to-end encryption like other messaging platforms like Facebook’s WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram.
All we know is that this pandemic is far from over, and as long as this (unfortunately) continues, the gaming sector will continue to benefit and lead the business sector.
On Tuesday night, President Trump announced that he instructed his administration to stop funding the World Health Organization until a review is completed, believing the WHO to have mismanaged the pandemic.