Video Game Sales Soar as COVID-19 Imprisons Millions at Home

COVID-19

The video and online gaming industry is experiencing a great boom in their business as people are forced to stay at home during the COVID-19 lockdown and turning towards such entertainment to kill time.

Nintendo announced its latest release in the Animal Crossing franchise, titled as New Horizon, on 20th March. According to Famitsu, a video game magazine, the game sold a staggering 1.8 million copies within a period of three days in Japan.

In UK, the sales of the game outnumbered the sales on all the previous installments in the franchise combined in the 1st week.

The game tempts players to build their own avatars and participate in activities like fishing and collecting items from different islands with the purpose of creating new items and spreading the virtual spaces.

Piers Harding-Rolls, research director for games at Ampere Analysis, told CNBC how the sales figures have exceeded the expectations. The game has been a huge hit due to the fact it is an antithesis to the issues people are encountering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moreover, the Harding-Rolls explains how Animal Crossing has moved beyond the one-tier seller and entered the big league. Apparently, the industry experts believe the COVID-19 outbreak had a huge role to play in the sudden surge in the game’s sales.

Although, all major cities worldwide have gone into a lockdown in order to contain the spread of COVID-19, but some authorities have even gone to a further extreme by shutting down businesses that aren’t considered “essential”. Hence, millions have opted the role of becoming a permanent home resident.

Daniel Ahmed, a Senior Analyst at Niko Partners, states that the pandemic has aided in the sudden surge in sales as more people are locked in their homes, and gaming is easily the safest, most cost-effective form of entertainment.

According to Andrew Little, research analyst at Global X, the consumer video game spending data indicates a considerable increase since the last month. In mid-March, consumers spent 65% more on video games as compared to the same time in 2019.

Another title, launched — Activision Blizzard’s free-to-play first-person shooter, Call of Duty: Warzone, was launched on 10th March and managed to acquire around 30 million players within a span of 10 days. Hence, we can safely that this is the fastest growing non-mobile game until now.

Staying connected through games

Beside the above games, it has been reported that the online service-based games will also see a drastic increase in demand through the pandemic, mainly because people are desperate to connect with others while in quarantine.

Currently, many online service-based titles are registering usage more than ever. Another major reason is that those who previously were not hardcore, frequent gamers, now have ample time to try and play more often.

Another group of people are returning gamers, folks who used to play in the past but have seen their interest wane with time. This group is also expected to come back and revive their old days.

Staying connected through games is the inclination. As people are restricted to meet in real world, at least they can connect and socialize with others across the globe in a virtual fashion.

How is the sector performing?

As the global economy has taken a direct hit from the COVID-19 in recent weeks, the video game industry has seemingly alleviated the impact much better than other major sectors worldwide.

For instance, VanEck’s Gaming and Esports ETF has risen by 2% year-to-date, while the ETFMG Video Game Tech ETF has dropped by only 5% due to the huge market sell-off.

In contrast to these, the Dow Jones Industrial Average alongside S&P 500 registered their worst ever quarter, dropping by almost 23.2% and 20% respectively.

Still, a clear, transparent impact on the video game sector is yet not determined. Although the upcoming, elite games could experience a significant push in online sales as consumers are happy to treat themselves more than ever at the home, the overall revenue figures will be negatively affected due to the shutdown of games retail stores in various major cities. Therefore, digital sales compensating for the overall loss might not be enough.

What Effects Does COVID-19 Has on the Gambling Industry?

COVID-19

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is now in every continent (except for Antarctica) and disrupting virtually every business globally. Every government has taken measures to slow the pandemic and to reduce the impact the virus is having on its citizens. There is a sacrifice with every decision. Most people are under executive orders to remain indoors and to refrain from being near other people. This executive order caused restaurants, gyms, shopping malls, and places of worship to shut down in most places until the threat is over. Click here for a list of nonessential businesses.

Social Distancing

The latest term applied to the behavior of people is “Social Distancing.” This means to stay at least six feet away from any other person. Even if a person is in an essential business that can and should remain open and functional during the pandemic, he must remain six feet away from any other human being at all times.

Non-essential businesses, services, and travel are banned. This has forced many businesses to lock their doors and sent many employees home.

People need people

People need people. This is why we congregate. We socialize by meeting for meals, parties, and celebrations. This primal need is what drives us to casinos. We enjoy meeting our friends and meeting new friends. We want to have great food and drinks, enjoy shows, and to try our luck at the casino games. Everyone has their favorite game. Norske casinoer is an industry leader and a global expert on the game of poker. By definition, this casino would be a non-essential business. But for the poker lover, the social citizen, and the employees that work there, it is anything but.

The laws Norske casinoer operates under are some of the strictness laws in the world. They are tested and proven. Industry leader GambleGuys.com tests the caliber of gambling games offered to you at various venues. The combination of the quality of the site, the legal regulations enforced, and the expertise of the games, (especially Poker) puts this site at the head of the line.

Cutting expenses

All kinds of businesses are cutting to the bone trying to hold on until the pandemic passes. People are being laid off. Services are being halted in every industry. Restaurants have closed their dining room and eating out means a to-go window. No one is spending money. Food and supplies are being hoarded in some cases for fear that the food and supplies will run out before the economy stabilizes. In most places, going to a doctor means a video chat as they do not want you to come to their office for fear of what you may catch. Emergency rooms are overflowing and medical supplies are coming up short in global proportions. People are beginning to understand things can get worse before they get better.

Brick and mortar casinos are closed in most countries. The hotels that thrived from casino guests are closed. The restaurants that fed the visitors for days at a time are closed. The gift shops, stores, and nice restaurants that lead to the casinos are closed. Fuel stations are open, but there are curfews and laws that are being enforced, so people are not making the wasted trip. The estimates of how much the Coronavirus has cost the gambling industry is in the hundreds of billions and still climbing. In the United States, the losses in gaming have cost more than $113 billion and are growing daily.

When you add the additional expenses in the gambling industry, such as hotels, flights, car rentals, and food you can see why the number falls sharply every day.

Online casino to the rescue?

Online gambling is not a new adventure. Most people who gamble know about gambling online. Some are playing video games online which is a great way to group with your friends online.

The casino games are the same as the ones you see in the physical casino. The casinos go to great lengths to get you to play online. You will have fun and kill some time, and they will get your business that is concentrated online so it doesn’t dry up any of their fluid assets. This is because As people who are stuck in their homes and trying to find something to do, many are setting up online personal accounts.

The casinos are drawing the customers in with major perks. Browse the sites and find the best perks to get you in. You may be offered money/credits to play with, hundreds of free spins to get you started. If there is a promo elsewhere that you like, don’t be afraid to ask for it. The casinos are in a unique situation. They need to get through the pandemic whole, just like the rest of us.

Points of interest:

  • During the pandemic, most sporting events are canceled. If your sport is betting on football, horses, or other sports events, you will not find them at this time.
  • This is not the time to participate in any type of illegal gambling. Use a quality gambling site. Exercise caution before releasing payment methods.
  • If you find yourself gambling beyond what you can afford, seek help. Gambling and gaming are for adults. Do not spend more than you can afford. 

Every day we move forward toward the goal of getting rid of COVID-19. We will recover. Until then, we must all pull together, and we will survive.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered trailer leaked

Modern Warfare 2

Before Modern Warfare 2019 dropped many Call of Duty fans were hoping for a Modern Warfare 2 remaster. Unfortunately, neither Infinity Ward nor Activison Blizzard seemed overly interested at the time. However, that looks to be changing very soon if the recently leaked trailer is anything to go by.

Originally sourced from an early German PlayStation Store listing, the leaked trailer confirms the existence of an MW2 remaster. In the trailer we see many iconic moments from Modern Warfare 2’s campaign. This includes the Gulag escape, snowmobile chase, and the ever iconic No Russian mission.

Modern Warfare 2 Remastered

Modern Warfare 2 RemasteredExisting owners of Modern Warfare 2019 and Call of Duty Warzone will benefit from a new content drop too. The upcoming Classic Ghost Bundle will add Modern Warfare 2’s Ghost as an operator, as well as an M4A1 Task Force blueprint. As it features a unique finishing move, player card and plenty more, you can expect it to be on the pricier side.

Speaking of price, the listing itself had Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered available for $29.99. For that, you will get access to a graphically enhanced version of MW2’s seven-hour campaign. The trailer doesn’t provide any details of a potential Spec Ops game mode, meaning it probably won’t feature.

Modern Warfare 2 Campaign RemasteredAs for when you can expect to play this, the trailer says, “Available now,” rather than stating a release date. Given this and the suggested release date in the leak, a launch as early as March 31 is a real possibility.

We have zero information regarding the multiplayer or if it will come in the future. With Modern Warfare 2019 being so successful, it seems unlikely Infinity Ward would launch another title to take away from it. If Modern Warfare 2’s multiplayer did get remastered, it would split the player base. Instead, Call of Duty fans will probably have to wait until Treyarch’s 2020 title for something fresh.

The Epic Store is getting more exclusives, courtesy of the Spring 2020 update

Epic Store

It’s fair to say not everyone is a fan of the Epic Store. Many gamers don’t like having their favorite titles locked behind platform exclusivity. The end result is always requiring several launchers all installed just to play the games you own.

Unfortunately, Epic Games thinks differently. For the Fortnite publisher bringing exclusive titles to its platform has been key in the success of the Epic Store. Building on that, it today announced that even more exclusives will be coming in this month’s Spring 2020 update.

Epic Store exclusives

Most notably, on March 26 PC owners of Control will only be able to get the upcoming DLC, The Foundation, if they own it on the Epic Store. Equally, PlayStation 4 players will also get the DLC early. Any unlucky Xbox One users will have to wait until June whilst a Steam version is confirmed, we don’t know exactly when. But if the Epic Store exclusivity lasts a year, a Steam release should come sometime in late August.

Otherwise, both physics simulator Totally Reliable Delivery Service and city sim Industries of Titan will follow in April. Both of these are timed exclusive upcoming indie games that will later arrive in Steam sometime in 2021. Once again, a one-year exclusivity deal seems likely.

industries of titan

The debate of if exclusives are okay or not has gone on ever since the Epic Store made its debut. Many gamers are irritated that a platform lacking many fundamental features is forcing players to use it. Equally, Steam has become the default PC launcher over the last fifteen years. For many, they don’t want to move away from the comfort of what they know.

The counterpoint is that competition is always good. Even if having big titles like Borderlands 3 locked away behind exclusivity isn’t ideal, there’s no doubt it creates competition. If that hadn’t happened, many players wouldn’t have even bothered installing the Epic Store. Given that, this might be a necessary sacrifice to keep PC gaming healthy.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ scores are in, it’s a global hit

The anticipation for Nintendo’s latest installment in its Animal Crossing series will soon reach its climax. On March 20, New Horizons officially launches as a Nintendo Switch exclusive. Buyers can rest easy as early reviews suggest fans are in for something special.

As of right now, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is sitting at a very comfortable 91 on Metacritic. Of the 44 submitted critic reviews, ten of them gave the hit life simulator the maximum score of 100. Amongst those includes reputable gaming publications like VGC and VG247.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Incredibly, all 44 approved reviews so far have given the new Animal Crossing the thumbs up. Not even one of them hit Metacritic’s mixed or negative criteria, hinting that New Horizons may be a once in a generation sort of game.

The lowest submitted score is an 80, shared by 4Players, Post Arcade, and GAMINGbible. With those kinds of numbers nothing else released this year can even compete. Even Microsoft’s brilliant Metroidvania Ori and the Will of the Wisps only achieved a 90, with two mixed reviews. For Ori, the user score is identical to the metascore. It’ll be interesting to see what players think of New Horizons when they finally get their hands on it.

animal crossing new horizons vault

Speaking of Nintendo, the Japanese publisher also recently announced an upcoming Direct. However, it won’t be a full-scale Direct announcing any huge titles as many had hoped. Instead, they will use the opportunity to provide a platform for various indie developers to showcase their talents.

The Nintendo Indie World will broadcast on Nintendo’s official YouTube on March 17 at 10:00 PT. Even if it’s not what you expected, it might still be worth checking out. Many of the Switch’s best titles are underappreciated indie titles. Who knows, Nintendo might ever use the opportunity to reveal something big about Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

200 player support is coming to Warzone, just not quite yet

When Warzone launched on Tuesday many players found themselves asking the same question. Why is it limited to only 150 players? Currently, you can only play in 150 player lobbies and teams of up to 3 people. However, we now know that the rumoured 200 player game modes will be coming at some point in the future.

In an interview with USA Today, Infinity Ward co-head Patrick Kelly gave various details on Warzone’s future. Most notably, the Modern Warfare dev confirmed that 200 player lobbies are coming to Warzone, just not quite yet.

200 player Warzone is on the way

According to Kelly, Infinity Ward itself is “already playing with 200 players.” Also, he makes a fair point when saying that its impressive Warzone supports 150 players from the get-go, as most other battle royale settle between 60 and 100. The biggest takeaway from Kelly’s remarks though is that Infinity Ward is planning to release a 200-player game mode “a little bit later.”

Given the sheer scale of Warzone’s map, this isn’t too surprising. It implements every Ground War map bar Aniyah Palace as well as a further six regular Call of Duty maps. Specifically, there’s Scrapyard, Vacant, Atlas Superstore, Killhouse, Broadcast, and Gulag.

activision blizzard map warzone

It’s clear that a lot of time and care went into the development of Warzone’s map. Some players have caught on to a potential Easter egg of sorts, although details are still sparse. What we do know is that scattered across the map there are various computers you can interact with. Equally, there’s a secret bunker with a keypad you can also interact with.

The future of Warzone looks promising. As well as a 200-player update, it’s these small hints that suggest Infinity Ward has big plans in store for its battle royale. It’s possible we could see something akin to Fortnite’s seasons where large areas of the map change over time. Alternatively, perhaps a PUBG styled content release plan could be a more suitable path.

Mario Kart Tour multiplayer finally goes live

When it released last September, Mario Kart Tour quickly became one of the best mobile games on the market. It was everything fans loved about Mario Kart tucked away into their phones. Well, almost everything. Unfortunately, at release the game had no support for multiplayer.

That will no longer be the case going forward. In an update released yesterday, Nintendo officially greenlit the racing game’s online play. As with the core platform titles, players will be able to play against their friends or compete worldwide. All online races support up to eight different players.

Mario Kart tour race

Mario Kart Tour

There are a few steps to take before you can jump online. You’ll need a Nintendo Account set up and be connected to the internet. Alternatively, mobile data is fine but be cautious as Mario Kart Tour can use up data quickly. Once your Nintendo account is linked, all your friends added on Switch will appear automatically.

The Global Multiplayer uses constantly rotating cups to determine an active track list. Every 15 minutes the active cup will change, meaning learning all the tracks is crucial for winning. As with single player, winning will net you tons of position points. You’ll also earn various base points and bonus points based on what you do during races.

mario kart tour drift

Despite this update, there are still concerns over Mario Kart Tour’s monetization. Many complaints have focused on Nintendo’s $4.99 a month Gold Pass service. For $60 a year you get a watered-down battle pass, access to Gold Races, some in-game badges, and the 200CC category.

Even worse, Mario Kart Tour has many of its karts and racers locked behind a greedy gacha system. This means that you throw money at the game for a chance at landing the racer you want. Given how bad your odds are, it’s far more likely you just end up short on cash. Hopefully, the addition of multiplayer means that Nintendo are taking Tour more seriously, and improvements to its business model will be made in the future.

EA Servers force pro FIFA players to determine winner with rock, paper, scissors

FIFA

Esports is the pinnacle of competitive gaming. It’s where elite virtual athletes go head to head to determine who the best in their field really is. That is unless you play FIFA. At a recent competitive EA licensed tournament, two players had to resort to a game of rock, paper, scissors to determine a winner.

The in-game invite system wasn’t working properly and likely due to time constraints, Shaun Galea and Hasan Eker couldn’t play their game. Instead, they had to resort to a game of rock, paper, scissors. Despite his best efforts, Shaun lost with rock after tying three times in a row throwing paper. Who needs elite gaming skills when you can just dominate at a children’s hand game?

FIFA 20

FIFA isn’t a very good competitive game

If truth be told, FIFA has never been a good competitive game. The core issue is that the games are sports simulations of real-life football. They are primarily designed for casual sports fans to play rather than core gamers. As a result, the gameplay is relatively simplistic and lacks a significant skill ceiling.

This follows the news that EA has opted to ban FIFA content creator Kurt0411. The publisher was unhappy with his supposed threats aimed at various Electronic Art employees. After banning Kurt0411 from playing all of their titles, EA has continued on to try and get his Twitch banned as well.

FIFA 20 arena

Whilst EA doesn’t name any specific incidents, many believe it was likely caused by the stream where he openly spat on the EA logo. Considering Kurt0411 was a professional FIFA player before his ban, behavior like this can be considered somewhat childish. Still, having a multi-billion conglomerate effectively bully a pro player isn’t exactly a good look for the publisher either.

From rock, paper, scissors to attacking pro players, the FIFA competitive scene isn’t dead, but it’s far from thriving. If EA wants their sports game to be taken more seriously they need to step up their game. For the time being, I don’t anticipate FIFA to become anything more than just yet another mediocre eSport.

Borderlands 3 is coming to Steam alongside Guns, Love, & Tentacles DLC

Borderlands 3

Gearbox has sure been spoiling us as of late. Just yesterday the publisher announced that Borderlands 3 will finally be coming to Steam. From March 13 onward, fans will have the choice to buy the looter-shooter on both the Epic Games Store and Steam.

Many gamers have an issue with the Epic Games Store so I’m sure they’ll be pleased to hear this news. Even though the Epic Store is attractive for many developers, it fails to appeal to its actual customers. Many of Steam’s core selling points such as game gifting, mod support, and customer reviews don’t feature on the Epic Store.

borderlands 3 dlc enemy

Borderlands 3: Guns, Love, & Tentacles DLC

Otherwise, Gearbox has also confirmed Borderlands 3’s second major expansion will be coming soon. Announced for a March 26 release, Guns, Love & Tentacles will focus on the relationship between Wainwright and Hammerlock. More to the point, they’ll be getting married. I’m not sure how a Pandoran marriage exactly works but it should be interesting.

Just to recap, in Borderlands 3’s main story you work alongside Wainwright and Hammerlock from chapters 11 through 16. Specifically, they help you find a vault key fragment and in return, you deal with Hammerlock’s psychotic sister.

GAIGE Borderlands 3

The hype is real for the new DLC as vault hunter Gaige makes her debut in Borderlands 3 at last. With the fan-favorite anarchist back, we now know where half of Borderlands 2’s cast ended up. The likes of Axton, Salvador, and Krieg are still missing in action.

We don’t know many specifics about the DLC yet, but we can make some fair assumptions. For one, expect plenty of new legendary weapons, gear, and cosmetics. Also, as per the Borderlands DLC tradition, there should be at least one more vault to hunt down. If you’re interested then you can pick up the Borderlands 3 Season Pass on the Epic Store for $49.99. Alternatively, you can wait for its Steam release next month.

The Xbox Series X is a legitimate console powerhouse

Xbox Series X

Microsoft has confirmed various details on their next-gen console. The Xbox Series X was first announced at E3 as Project Scarlett, but no specific information was disclosed. However, we now know just how powerful the new Xbox will be.

In an extended post written by Xbox head Phil Spencer, all of the Series X’s specifications have been announced. Also, Spencer even highlighted several of the console’s unique selling points. This new information is somewhat of a surprise given that the largest gaming conference, E3, doesn’t take place until June.

forza horizon 2

Xbox Series X

So, what did we actually find out? For one, the next-gen Xbox will be powered by a 12 teraflop AMD graphics card. In layman’s terms, that’s twice as powerful as the Xbox One X and eight times as powerful as the original Xbox One.

As for performance, that beefy GPU will enable developers to pursue better frame rates than ever before. Microsoft is setting 120 FPS as their standard for next-gen. Keep in mind, many Xbox One titles like Forza Horizon 4 and GTA V run at just 30 FPS.

GTA 5

Phil Spencer explains that the Xbox Series X will support Variable Rate Shading (VRS). Effectively, this is a console exclusive feature that can make games get even more out of its already powerful graphics card. This seems to be comparable to the PlayStation 3’s SPUs which help create many iconic first-party titles like The Last of Us.

All of these incredible specifications do beg an obvious question. How much is the Xbox Series X going to cost? Phil Spencer doesn’t give us much of a clue in this post, but we can take an educated guess. The Xbox One launched at $499 but when the Kinect was dropped it was widely available for just $399. Since the Series X uses far more expensive hardware but won’t have a mandatory Kinect, somewhere between $499 and $599 seems to make sense.