There may be no safer bet in the world than the brave statement that people are playing more video games while socially distant during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sure, it seems obvious that video game and console sales would go up in a time when COVID-19 concerns have us all locked inside like a Sims character with the doors to its house removed, but we now have some hard proof to go with the assumptions.
GameIndustry.Biz took a look at the GSD non-United States market data on gaming and hardware sales during what has been almost the full month of March, influenced by shelter-in-place and emergency declarations. The findings, while obvious, highlight just how big the gaming sector surge is during these trying times. To the shock of nobody, digital sales are seeing a massive jump in numbers, as the week of March 16-22 saw a 52 percent sales increase over the previous week. And those numbers don’t even include the United States or the releases of Doom Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, making it all the more impressive.
Markets that entered lockdown saw a spike in digital sales as well, with France and Italy seeing download percentage increases edge up towards a 200 percent climb. These numbers could very well change as Sony’s enforcement of slowing download speeds on PSN take effect.
Despite the lockdown, physical sales are also holding steady. Seventeen physical retail markets saw an 82 percent week-to-week increase during this period, which once again does not include Doom or Animal Crossing. This isn’t true in all locations; Italy is seeing a drop in physical sales by almost half without Animal Crossing’s massive numbers.
Console sales are also experiencing a boost from the pandemic, with a 155 percent increase during that March 16-22 period for a total of 259,169 console units sold in these Asia/Europe/Africa sales areas.
The numbers leave something to be desired, as they neither include the United States or provide insight into how the loss of jobs and income will begin to affect the games industry’s sales like it has the film industry. Solid statistics may very well not come to light until all of this is over and done, whenever that may be. Regardless and despite the circumstances, it is a good time to be a fan of games and those of us who have hoarded games in our backlogs like a squirrel jamming nuts in its mouth for winter are now feasting.
There are some questions of how long such a surge can last, however. With the expected economic downturn as a result of lost jobs and the world essentially being on pause, some analysts think this early boost in sales could see a downturn in the future.
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