What turned out to be a difficult year for most people around the globe, was the year that made one particular group of people really happy. If you guessed ‘gamers’, congratulations you have won nothing, but you deserve a cookie!

If you have been on the internet in the past few months, you’d have noticed that no one has seemed to gain more popularity than professional gamers. The pandemic not only put professionals in the spotlight, it also introduced the everyday Joe to the world of gaming.

And the numbers speak for themselves:

  • Gaming live streams brought in 1.5 to 2 million views per day, as reported by NODWIN Gaming, India
  • Game developers Tencent and Nintendo reported an average of 30% increase in digital sales year-on-year
  • ‘Animal Crossing’, a game released amidst the pandemic, sold a record-breaking 11 million copies in the first 11 days of its release
  • Ludo King’s daily active user base jumped from 13-15 million to 50 million people during the lockdown

So what caused this stunning change in the gaming space? Maybe it was the amount of free time during quarantine or maybe the boredom that set in or maybe both. One thing is for sure though — people were suddenly cut off from their friends and family — making games one way to virtually feel closer to others and have fun.

But, no one predicted that this sudden shift would become permanent. So, let’s take a look at some long-term changes triggered by the pandemic in the gaming space.

Rise of casual games

PUBG is popular, we all know it. But it wasn’t the real winner in the pandemic. The popularity trophy was surprisingly won by casual games such as Ludo King, Rummy, and Carrom. In fact, Ludo King was the fourth most downloaded app with 9.5 million downloads during the peak of the pandemic.

So why did casual games become popular? Well, because not every one in a family is interested in the battle royale format of PUBG. Some like to chill and mingle and these games allowed them to do so during a time when they couldn’t physically do anything fun. Plus, these games are age agnostic — they are equally popular among your uncles, aunts, grandparents, and friends. So it’s only fair to say casual games brought families closer.

Changing attitudes towards gaming

When your parents are spending hours playing Ludo, can they really stop you from bantering with your friends on PUBG? No!

Truth is, the pandemic has made many realize that gaming isn’t childish and a time-waste. It has made them realize that gaming is more than entertainment -- it can bring people together, improve your logical skills, and make money!

Well, it took a pandemic but finally people have realized the positive side of gaming!

Surge in sponsorships

Pro players are getting the celebrity status they deserve and brands are taking notice. Mainstream brands, musicians, and artists are now collaborating with gaming companies and esports players.

Recently, Blackpink — world’s number #1 female KPOP group — collaborated with PUBG to release their new song. This move was a double whammy — bringing tons of new players to PUBG and listeners to Blackpink.

Avengers x Fortnite and Stranger Things x Rocket League are some other collaborations that have successfully created buzz for both the games and the upcoming movies and shows.

Brands are smart. They know that viewers are spending most of their time on these games and they want to be where the eyes are. So it’s no surprise that gaming collaborations are becoming the branding goldmines.

Normalization of esports

The cancellation of highly anticipated sporting events has left many viewers unfulfilled — forcing companies to find new ways to cut their losses. Many turned to esports events to keep their viewers engaged. For instance, ESPN partnered with Riot Games to broadcast League of Legends Championship Series tournaments on ESPN2.

Esports is no longer a well-kept secret, it’s announcing its presence in the traditional media with a megaphone! And we’re here to watch how this trend continues.