As the COVID-19 pandemic forces millions to stay at home, many are turning to social video games to interact with others. In the era of social distancing, these games are a welcome distraction from the monotony of staying home while providing an outlet for much-needed quality time with friends and family who are afar. A recent feature by NPR detailed some of the new ways in which people are engaging with social games.
Jackbox Games, the developer of dozens of party and trivia games, told NPR that its traffic last weekend was comparable to that of Thanksgiving, one of its busiest times of the year. For its part, Jackbox has discounted many of its games. On PlayStation, for example, its titles are currently priced at a 40-60 percent discount. In addition, the company also published a guide on how to play its games remotely.
Meanwhile, Discord saw its account sign-ups shoot up 200 percent last week. The Skype-like voice-chatting platform is frequently used by gamers to communicate while playing games.
Mobile game developers are also adapting their games to suit indoor needs. Niantic, the developer of Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, announced it would be updating its games to allow play from home. Players will be able to collect virtual items without having to walk outside, a dramatic change given that these games are designed to get people outside.
Millions of gamers have also picked up Animal Crossing: New Horizons since it launched on March 20. The slow-paced Nintendo game is considered one of the company’s best social titles. New Horizons sold 1.88 million units in the first three days after its launch in Japan. That figure is almost half a million units higher than Switch’s second-best-selling game, Pokémon Sword and Shield. The Switch console itself sold 392,000 units last week in Japan, a near-600 percent increase from the week prior. While US sales data is still unknown, it’s clear that millions of people are turning to social gaming as a welcome distraction during these trying times.
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