fbpixel Influencer marketing quarantine gaming trends. - MG Empower
Written by - Daniel Shale

Influencer marketing quarantine gaming trends.


Six feet. Among the many Covid statistics that stream across news feeds, it doesn’t seem like that big of a number. Six feet. The average height of a refrigerator or a yoga mat. But during the pandemic, this innocuous number transformed our physical spaces and the way in which we relate to one another. Quarantine saw handshakes and hugs become taboo. The streets and venues we once frequented became dangerous. The faces of our friends and family became memories and the personal havens of our homes became, for many of us, centers of social isolation.

But with our physical spaces transformed, our digital spaces took on new importance. And while social media engagement saw a surge, video game usage increased by an astounding 75% percent.

With more people searching for engagement while confined to the home, this is to be somewhat expected. But what insights about the future of gaming can we garner from this?

Here are the trends that will shape the immediate future of the gaming industry. But what insights about the future of gaming can we garner from this?

E-Commerce is the Future of Gaming

The days of blowing into cartridges and polishing blu-rays with a tee shirt are a thing of the past. While E-commerce sales as a whole saw a marked increase during quarantine, digital sales of video games continued to trend upward with a poll by Nielsen Games reporting that 23% of respondents were buying digital versions of games more often. This builds on data from 2019 which saw PS4 digital sales surpass physical sales for the first time.

It also makes sense from a practical standpoint. Though stores like GameStop remained open for the first few weeks of quarantine, most video game retailers were soon declared non-essential and shuttered. With all the major parties (Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo) having established e-shops, gamers looking for content amid quarantine could simply hop on and download the latest release. And unlike with e-books, the experience provided by digital downloads are identical to their physical counterparts. In a post-covid world, barring memory limitations and collector’s editions, there will be fewer reasons to go the physical route when purchasing games.

The Allure of Animal Crossing 

But quarantine hasn’t only had an impact on the format in which we consume our content, but also the kind of content we consume. The global appeal of Animal Crossing is a testament to that. The series has always been a big seller, with previous entries in the series selling between 2 million and 12 million copies lifetime. However, the latest entry, New Horizons, has eclipsed them all, selling over 13 million copies in a matter of weeks. This unprecedented success is in no small part due to the way in which its unique gameplay speaks to a population largely confined to their homes.

In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, players find themselves designing an island from scratch. The gameplay is largely predicated on building out the island, towns, and areas that make it up, allowing players to customize everything down to their own homes. In a world where social distancing and self-quarantine are mandates rather than choices, you can imagine how the freedom provided by that kind of experience would resonate with those locked down. But beyond just allowing users an incredible amount of control, what New Horizons truly offers gamers is human interaction. Players can use the online feature to open up their island to other local players, the joys of digging up fossils shared by two people on opposite ends of the screen.

The Importance of Multiplayer and a Shared Digital Space

Games like Animal Crossing take full advantage of a shared digital space to erase the physical barriers that have become all too prominent in the age of Covid. Going forward, a varied and engaging multiplayer experience will become increasingly important. During quarantine multiplayer staples such as Call of Duty and Doom have seen dramatic rises in the number of monthly users.

However, while games like Animal Crossing and Doom have their users locked in to a console and service, this model of platform exclusivity has recently been challenged by the popularity of cross-platform play. Buoyed by games like Fortnite and Need for Speed: Heat, cross-platform play, while in its infancy at the moment, allows for an unprecedented amount of interaction between players, regardless of what system they choose to play on. Even if that system isn’t a traditional console

The Increased Appeal of Mobile Games

As our phones have grown exponentially more powerful, they have ceased to be just phones and can be considered gaming systems in their own right. And while lacking the power of a dedicated home console, the role they play in the future of the gaming industry cannot be understated. They are a microcosm of what we see going on in the industry at large (digital downloads, cross-platform play,) coupled with portability and presence. Smartphones are ubiquitous in an increasingly digital society and, during the pandemic, mobile game downloads rose significantly. With a large portion of the workforce democratized from fixed work schedules, mobile games represent a convenient link into our shared digital space. They can be powered up in seconds and don’t require the commitment of their console brethren, while offering similar engagement and interactions.

Our Lives Gone Virtual 

Life under quarantine has shown us many things, least among them that we are capable of living virtually. Our digital spaces extend unbroken beyond the confines of our homes, a framework of virtual experience overlaid atop our physical reality. The trends in gaming post-covid seek to take advantage of that, further blurring the distinction between these two spaces and allowing users to exert an equal amount of control over both. The games we want to play will be available with a simple click of a button. And the people who make the experience all the more fun, will be closer than ever.

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