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Gaming Jumped 46% Under Lockdown

Western populations going into lockdown has been bad news for plenty of industries, but it might have been good for gaming, as a number of recent reports highlight huge growth in gaming across the board.

The most striking figures come from Unity, which reports a 46% growth in daily active players on PC and Mac compared to early 2019. Amusingly, while gaming using spikes at weekends the differences flattened by 63% after lockdown started in early March, and in the first week of May people actually played more during the week than they did over the weekend.

Unity analysed activity on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android games made using its Unity software, in addition to other mobile games that operate its monetisation system.

Mobile gaming saw a spike too, as people who don’t normally play turned to their phones for entertainment. According to Unity mobile play had a more modest jump of 17% compared to last year, though that’s translated into installing 84% more apps than normal.

What’s a bit less clear is where mobile gamers are spending their time. Unity says that what it calls ‘mid/hardcore’ mobile games saw 39% more engagement than usual, while ‘commuter’ apps with shorter play sessions actually dropped by 7% after a brief spike in early March.

On the other hand a connected report from Adjust tracked 72% growth in gameplay sessions in March 2020 for what it calls ‘hyper casual’ games – though that growth tapered back down quickly through April, which tallies more with Unity’s figures.

It’s not just people playing games either. A study of 3,617 users of browser extension Gener8 found traffic to Twitch peak at 179% more than usual, with a 98% growth in people actually playing games.

The big question is whether any of this will last, or if all these newfound gamers are going to drop the habit as soon as they’re allowed back in the pub. Unity and Adjust both found peaks in March and April that began to decline again in May, so it’s possible that plenty of new players have already decided that it’s not for them.

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