People Are Gaming A Lot More Since COVID-19, Study Confirms

A new study has shown that more Americans are gaming more often, and on more platforms than ever before.

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A new study has shown in numbers what we've already discovered anecdotally--gaming has surged in popularity in the last few years, and even more so since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The report by The NPD Group shows not only that more people in the United States are gaming since 2018, they're also playing more often, and across more different platforms.

As of 2020, three out of every four Americans play video games, according to the survey, an increase of 32 million people since 2018. They’re also spending more time playing--the category of gamers playing less than five hours a week decreased 8% since 2018 to a total of 39%, while gamers playing 5-15 hours increased 2% to 32% total, and those playing over 15 hours per week increased 6% to make up 20% of players in the US.

While gamers are also, on average, playing on more devices, the study doesn't lean towards anyone in the console wars--rather smart phones, tablets and PCs were the platform of choice. The number of gamers using more than one device increased from 59% in 2018 to 65% in 2020.

With the latest survey taking place in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the report also collected data on how the pandemic has changed the way we play. Unsurprisingly, 35% of gamers reported that they were playing games more often due to the lockdown. Six percent of gamers said that they started using a new device--whether that meant buying a console or taking up gaming on a phone or computer they already owned--due to the COVID-19 lockdown. After the lockdown created a complete shortage of Nintendo Switches, this statistic doesn't seem too surprising.

"Video games are one of the primary ways friends and family are staying connected through a difficult time," said Mat Piscatella, an NPD group analyst, referring to a phenomenon we've noticed from the earliest days of the pandemic. With its release perfectly (yet hopefully unintentionally) timed for the global lockdown, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has become a venue for events like birthday parties and weddings. Younger gamers are using Roblox to hang out with friends, while Fortnite is organising virtual events from concerts to movie screenings and even a discussion of racial issues in America.

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