Play Life, Live Games column: People are picking up games during pandemic
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has caused major downturns in businesses locally and around the world. While the virus is causing some games and updates to be delayed, it’s also having some positive impacts on the gaming industry.
The NPD Group, a firm that tracks video game sales in North America, released the March sales data earlier this week and with so many people stuck at home self isolating, sales of both hardware and software skyrocketed.
The top-selling game for the month was Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing: New Horizons,” which launched on March 20 for the Switch. This is the fifth mainline entry in the series in the past 20 years, and in just 12 days on the market, it has already eclipsed the lifetime sales of the previous four games, becoming the bestselling entry in the franchise.
Between systems, games and accessories, gamers spent $1.6 billion supporting their hobby last month, a 35% increase over March 2019.
“As communities have practiced social distancing and observed stay at home orders across the United States over the past weeks, many people have turned to video games as a means of finding connections,” said Mat Piscatella, games industry analyst at The NPD Group, in a news release. “Whether together on the couch playing locally, or playing online, gaming has generated increased engagement, which has resulted in corresponding increases in consumer spend.”
Nintendo’s success last month wasn’t limited to “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” either. Nintendo had three other games they published make the top 20 sellers of the month and sales of the Switch hardware itself more than doubled its sales from March 2019.
In fact, Nintendo sold more units of the Switch last month than any other month, including their launch in March 2017.
The Switch is selling so well right now that it’s becoming difficult to find the systems in stores or online. Some people are even selling new Switches on eBay for $540 to $585 right now when they normally sell for $300.
Games are a great way to unite with people, both those in your house playing some couch co-op titles, or playing with friends and family online. If you’re feeling lonely in these times, pick up a controller. It might help.
Dusty Ricketts is the editor of The Destin Log and The Walton Sun newspapers and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.