More than 50% of Americans played video games out of boredom during coronavirus lockdowns


More than half of Americans faced coronavirus-fueled cabin fever last year by playing video games.

SuperData, a Nielsen company, reports 55 percent of people turned to console, PC and mobile games during the first phase of COVID-19 lockdowns.

Video games and interactive media generated $139 billion in 2020, a 12 percent spike, with digital games alone raking in $126 billion.

‘Consumers had to turn to games as other forms of entertainment such as professional sports and movie theaters were on pause,’ the report indicates.

Free-to-play games like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone generated 78 percent of the total games revenue.

But console games earnings jumped more than a quarter, likely fueled by the arrival of the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X.

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More than 50 percent of Americans turned to gaming during the pandemic, SuperData found, helping to fuel $139 billion in spending on games and interactive media in 2020

More than 50 percent of Americans turned to gaming during the pandemic, SuperData found, helping to fuel $139 billion in spending on games and interactive media in 2020

Players cited boredom and a desire to avoid the real world as reasons for picking up a joystick and about one in four said they played games to stay in touch.

Gaming video content brought in $9.3 billion and spending on virtual and augmented reality reached $6.7 billion.  

VR game earnings alone jumping 25 percent to $589 million, aided by the release of Half-Life: Alyx and the Oculus Quest 2 headset. 

Despite lockdowns, mobile games still grew 10 percent, to account for almost 60 percent of the total market.

Console games earnings jumped more than a quarter, likely fueled by the arrival of the Playstation 5 (pictured) and Xbox Series X

Console games earnings jumped more than a quarter, likely fueled by the arrival of the Playstation 5 (pictured) and Xbox Series X

According to SuperData’s 2020 year-in-review, $73.8 billion of digital spending occurred on mobile, with $33.1 billion on PC and $19.7 billion on consoles. 

Free-to-play games generated most (78 percent) of the industry revenue, with Asian markets alone accounting for almost 60 percent of free-to-play earnings. 

Honor of Kings and Peacekeeper Elite were top mobile picks, SuperData reported, generating $2.45 and $2.32 billion respectively.

WHAT WERE THE TOP 10 HIGHEST-EARNING CONSOLE GAMES OF 2020? 

Call of Duty Modern Warfare: $1.91 billion

FIFA 20: $1.08 billion 

Grand Theft Auto V: $911 million 

Cyberpunk 2077 was one of the top-selling games of 2020

Cyberpunk 2077 was one of the top-selling games of 2020

NBA 2K21: $889 million 

NBA 2K20: $771 million 

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War – $678 million 

Animal Crossing: New Horizon: $654 million 

Cyberpunk 2077: $609 million

The Sims 4: $462 million 

Doom Eternal: $454 million 

Roblox was another big winner, with $2.29 billion in earnings.

The online game-creation platform became the social-media platform of choice for housebound kids.

By the summer, it racked up 150 million monthly users with global player spending exceeding $100 million.

In March, Animal Crossing: New Horizons broke Call of Duty: Black Ops IV’s console download record with five million copies sold.

It even hosted a virtual campaign headquarters for President-elect Joe Biden.

Among Us, another big winner, had nearly half a billion players in November alone, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and beauty influencer James Charles.

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While a vaccine means lockdowns may be a thing of the past, SuperData says fanaticism for gaming isn’t going away: The company predicts a modest 2 percent revenue increase in 2021.

There can be a downside to all this gaming, though: A study published last May in Developmental Psychology found one in ten young players — a ‘significant minority’ — were addicted to video games.

They fell into a ‘pathological’ gamer category, characterized by excessive time spent playing, difficultly disengaging from games, and a ‘disruption to healthy functioning.’

Adolescent gamers who fit this profile displayed higher levels of depression, aggression, shyness, and anxiety as they entered their twenties, researchers found.

‘I really do think that there are some wonderful things about video games [but] the important thing is to use them in healthy ways and to not get sucked into the pathological levels,’ said lead author Sarah Coyne, a professor of family life at Brigham Young University.

Coyne’s team followed 385 adolescents over a six-year period, tracking their gaming habits and psychological profiles.

She said school closings and social distancing likely increased the amount of time young people around the world spent on video games in 2020.   



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