Coronavirus (COVID-19) is terrible news for everyone. Everyone got impacted by the outbreak and game developers are no exception. The article analyses the impact of the coronavirus on the gaming industry and changing patterns in game players’ behaviour. On the one hand, the government is temporarily closing schools resulting in increasing demands for online games, whereas on the other hand it’s becoming tough to manage human resources required to meet demand. The article also makes few recommendation to game developers to counter the socio-economic impact caused by coronavirus.
Rise in demand for games
Since outdoor games and physical interaction is limited across the world. The favourite time pass for most people is online games. They have no other obvious entertainment as coronavirus is frightening them and making them stay at home unless it is important to go out. As CNN openly reported that “one industry that is benefiting from coronavirus is gaming”. Similarly, mobile game downloads surged after the outbreak of coronavirus in China. According to a recent report by the FT, mobile game downloads increased by 40 % in first 2 weeks of February compared to last year. It’s worth mentioning that China accounts for largest user base for app store users.
Challenges poised by coronavirus
While the demand increased for the game industry, many companies failed to meet rising demand. According to the news on independent, many people had to face delay times while playing World of Warcraft Classic. Various challenges and impacts due to coronavirus are described below.
Product launch delays
Most game companies had to reschedule announcements of their new games due to coronavirus. This is primarily due to the cancellation of the gaming events. Game developer Conference is the biggest industry event in the US. It was scheduled for 16th March and attracts thousands of game professionals, players and journalists. The conference was rescheduled last moment and hence impacted major announcements for the gaming industry for the year.
Some companies responded in favour saying that the decision was right according to the circumstances, while some are not happy with it. Of course, it wasn’t good news for the game developers along with the business. But this was a necessary decision to prevent a virus spread.
Noticeable delays due to coronavirus
- The production of Nintendo is also facing delays. There is shortage in the Japanese market due to higher pre-orders. Given the health concerns of the manufacturing teams, it is impossible to fill the gap any time soon.
- The switch of Outer World sports is also delayed. It has not faced any health issues by far, but still, offices will remain closed. Moreover, the new version of the Outer Worlds is delayed.
- The Overwatch League delayed china homestand due to coronavirus. Later, it was planned to be held in South Korea but delayed there too because of the COVID-19.
- Mobile World conference was cancelled due to health concerns posed by coronavirus.
Similarly, there is a lot of other gaming equipment facing delay in production because of the coronavirus fear and panic situation. Also, there were many events planned for 2020 and had to be rescheduled due to epidemic virus.
Impact on supply chain
Gaming studios are facing biggest challenge of the century. They have the main issue in handling the supply chain operations. Many of the companies like Facebook and Microsoft are having issues with gaming supplies. Servers are not responding, where downloads were a meaning of success, now delays are causing major troubles. This leads to serious effects on the business of Apple and other tech giants. So, let’s see how we can analyze the situation and reduce the ripple effect by taking this situation as a challenge.
Coronavirus : Opportunity or Loss
Well, now the situation is here and we were not prepared for it. Isolation from the streets and avoiding any sort of crowd should not have been a problem in the digital world. So, yes we agree that times are crucial, but it is also a time to take this challenge as an opportunity and prepare for unfortunate matters like this. Ultimately, we need business for the sustainability of world economics too. A one-day loss can lead to the unimaginable loss in the yearly revenue.
If we summarize the whole impact of the situation, we can break it down into the following steps and we can see how this challenge can be turned into a chance to rebuild.
Opportunity for social games
We know some popular games like PUBG, but these same games have faced slow servers during the outrage of coronavirus. So, to balance the gaming industry, small game developers can introduce more social games and cater to the need of people who are sitting at homes. Ultimately, it will benefit in fulfilling demand for the gamers out there looking for the new launches. Also other existing games can include social features to fulfill demands.
Delay in launches or time to rethink
Yes, the loss is obvious, but only if you are not creative enough. Delays are there, but you have the challenge to test your servers and work on building better servers that would accommodate more gamers in the future. So, while all the chaos is going around which is a serious threat to the health of people all around the world, game developers should work on improving game architecture to handle more load.
Difficult to network
It is difficult to reach out to talent and other like minded people, but we have digital facilities. If we think right and take some steps by putting efforts into gathering all the gamers or developers in one place, this can be a huge digital event. It can be a challenging step, but social media platforms are for the same purpose. All you need is to communicate with the right people and let the message spread all around through the right channel. Also, the decision made by the management of the top gaming studios including Microsoft, Sony, and EA. Now, the planned talks may be uploaded to the YouTube channel or any other media platforms, so people can reach out the important information. This sounds interesting and challenging at the same time.
Cultivate culture for remote work
Every company has developed game development processes that ensure quality and high productivity. Its high time to rethink processes that will promote remote works and work from home.
So, it can be an opportunity for the researcher and creator to come up with solutions that will improve the culture of remote teams. It will not only benefit the current situation, but it can also offer us a better digital future. Also, it’s time to rethink your global presence strategy. Start investing in teams outside the country and region to cater to such unfortunate situations.
Improve dependence on digital marketing
Digital marketing is the main ingredient of any business right now. The disease is terrible, but with concern, there comes a chance to work on your digital marketing strategies. Coming up with the solutions to fight with the outbreak or helping people to stay in touch through online platforms and reducing the chaos can work in your favour for the long-term.
Invest in geographically spread teams
Remote working is still in a struggling phase. Yes, the manufacturing team may have some issues in creating hardware, but game developers can work online. So, it’s time to invest in geographically spread teams to diversify the risk. Build remote team and you can work from home to ensure the needs of people who are sitting back in their homes waiting for the games and new launches. This is definitely key to stay in business now.
S.o, now it is up to you – either you can sit back and wait for the coronavirus fear to end or take it as a chance to build something unique and innovative. These are the situations when brilliant minds get their way in the world through their unique and productive solution.
In the digital age, we have alternative mediums available for connecting to the users digitally. Communication with employees as well as community and other vendors have to be transformed digitally. Hence take advantage of online communication platforms like Slack, Assembla, Skype, WhatsApp to enhance communication within team members.
We know that the illness is not something to be taken lightly. However, the way it is impacting the world and especially the game developers and gaming industry, it is the time that we work together and test our abilities to find the right solutions. We don’t a quick solution but the community has to find the solution. We all need to build useful strategies to work together and find innovative ideas from all the corners to fight with the fear of coronavirus – helping the gaming industry fight the battle of loss and challenge.
Please reach out to GenITeam if you need help with developing games or discuss solution to the problems faced due to coronavirus.