Videogames were already a multibillion-dollar industry. The pandemic is sending them to another level.
With so many people taking a break from movie screenings and dining out, spending on videogames and equipment has been hitting all-time highs every month since March. People who already played videogames are playing more, and former gamers have dug their dusty consoles out of the closet to revive the hobby. Newbies are taking up the habit, too.
New releases such as “Animal Crossing: New Horizon” and older hits like “Grand Theft Auto V” are reeling in players across generations and geographies, as gamers are drawn—at least in part—by the ever-increasing opportunities to socialize with friends and strangers inside virtual worlds.
The surge in popularity is accelerating a shift in the balance of power within the global entertainment landscape. Musicians, athletes and politicians are increasingly seeking out games and game-streaming platforms for attention. And tech giants are betting big that the trend will outlast the pandemic: Microsoft Corp. , for instance, announced plans in September to spend $7.5 billion to acquire the company behind the popular Doom game franchise.
Over the summer, Jason Anthony went from playing videogames only on weekends to playing daily. His new routine didn’t change when he went back to commuting to the office in September after a six-month stretch of working from home.