What Role Do Games Play When the World Is in Crisis?

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At Active Gaming Media, in addition to distributing our own games, we also offer localization and international PR for other game companies. 

Since we are a business, we have a monthly budget that we need to meet, and at the same time we offer our services to various companies that create games, manga, and anime. 

Right now everyone is acting with great restraint and exercising social distancing due to the novel coronavirus. Because of this I’m sure there are times when it feels wrong to contact clients, or ask them “how do you feel about trying to expand internationally?” 

Yet, I believe what game companies have to offer is more important now than ever

There are two reasons for this.  

There is already plenty of data available for the first reason. In areas where curfews are implemented and people find themselves in their houses unable to do anything, of course they’re watching movies and reading, but the fact of the matter is that video games are reaching the same level as reading as a form of entertainment, they’re becoming a cultural norm.

So in places like Italy and Spain (my home country), when people have nothing to do and can’t go outside, when stress is building, publishing games for those people is the biggest contribution to society that game companies can offer.

Since physically sending funds, food, and medicine isn’t possible, now is the time to publish internationally. 

As a game company, we’ve been seeing a lot of data substantiating evidence that in March 2020, people who couldn’t leave their houses, or go to work, used their new free time to play games. In the past few weeks a lot of data has emerged on this topic, such as YouTube video play counts going up.

Here is just a bit of that interesting data. 

This is from Europe’s ISFE Group (Europe’s Video Game Industry. They say that not only games, but console sales have gone up exponentially. This data was published in March, when the coronavirus was at its most intense in France, Italy, Germany and Spain.

Between March 16 and 22, digital downloads were up 52.9% compared to the previous week. 

Places with curfews had an even bigger jump.

France: 180% increase

Spain: 142% increase

Italy: 174.9% increase 

 

Even countries without curfews saw an increase in downloads. 

UK: 67.4% increase 

Australia: 25.5% increase

 

Console’s also saw favorable increases in sales all over Europe. Information was not available by individual console, but all together 259,169 were sold.

Since the curfews have been instated sales have seen an obvious increase.

Italy: 84% increase

Spain: 66.1% increase

France: 140.6% increase

 

Even countries without curfews, perhaps because of calls for social distancing, saw an increase in console sales. 

UK: 126.6%% increase

Australia: 285.6% increase

 

The second reason is simply that it’s a good business opportunity.  

Games are known as a very difficult form of entertainment to manage. It takes time to develop a game. There are enormous production costs, and there’s no telling when they’ll be finished (deadlines are extended once, then again, then again). On top of all that, just because they’re made doesn’t mean they’ll sell.

There aren’t many products as difficult to manage as games. But what I’ve also come to understand is that there’s a power to them as well. 

Distributing games internationally under these circumstances is not only good business, it’s something society clearly needs right now. It is the game industry’s duty to, through entertainment,  ease the stress everyone all over the world is feeling right now.

Related article : Three Tips for Rooting out the Best Localization and Translation Staff
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