Data Journalist

Video game publishers may not be completely immune to the impact of COVID-19 but the industry is proving more resilient than others.

As Americans continue to adjust to the harsh new reality brought on by the pandemic, many seem to be looking to escape through video games, according to a YouGov survey of 1,175 individuals on the activities they’ve been doing more of since late-March. The study, fielded April 24-27, shows that close to three in 10 Americans indicate they’ve been playing video games more often than usual amid lockdowns (28%).

That figure is significantly higher among younger people. Two in five Millennials say they’ve been gaming more during this time (40%)—the highest figure of any generation—and at least one in six Boomers can say the same (17%).



In late-April, 13 percent of Millennials say they played Minecraft within the last 30 days (+8 percentage points from late-February). Call of Duty (+5 points since February) and the Sims (+3 points) are two other franchises that see lifts among Millennials. The top 10 game franchises played in April by Millennials include: Minecraft (13%), Call of Duty (13%), Super Mario Bros. (11%), The Sims (10%), Grand Theft Auto (9%), FIFA (8%), The Legend of Zelda (8%), Fortnite (7%), Assassin’s Creed (6%), and Madden NFL (5%).

How does the video game sector amid coronavirus compare with 2019?

Playing time is one way to measure the video game sector’s performance, but the data also shows that the same proportion of Americans are planning to buy games or in-game content in 2020 as they were in 2019.

A week-over-week analysis of the video game publisher sector shows that Americans are just as likely to be in the market for video games through the first 18 weeks of 2020 (23%) as they were through the same period in 2019 (22%). This suggests that while there may not be many new gamers playing, existing gamers are supporting and keeping the sector steady throughout the pandemic.

As an increasing number of states urged Americans to stay at home or shelter in place, the percentage of people who say they were very likely or likely to purchase video games or in-game content peaked at 28 percent. This figure virtually matches the average rate of Americans who said they were likely to buy video games during the 2019 holiday season (27%; Nov. 25–Dec. 29, 2019).



Methodology: YouGov’s survey on the activities people look forward to after lockdowns end is based on the interviews of 1,175 US adults aged 18 and over between April 24-27, 2020. All interviews were conducted online and the results have been weighed to be nationally representative. See the full results here.

The results around video game publishers and game titles is based on YouGov Plan and Track data—a syndicated data platform that tracks the public’s perception of thousands of brands. 

Read more on how COVID-19 is impacting Americans’ behaviors and opinions

Image: Getty

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