Video game sales, popularity flourish amid pandemic

By Dan Grossman
8:43 PM, Oct 06, 2020

In the coming weeks, Microsoft and Xbox will release its newest video game consoles for the first time in seven years and the demand could not be higher.

Gaming has flourished during the pandemic, in large part, because of a new generation of gamers.

“The older generations are coming out of the woodwork,” said a 67-year-old video game streamer, who simply wanted to go by the name GrandpaGaming.

Grandpa, as he is commonly referred to in gaming communities, streams himself playing video games 100 hours each week to a worldwide audience of around 200,000 people on the streaming website Twitch.

He started it years ago, but he says he has noticed even more people tuning in since March, which has led to even more money in his pocket. Viewers will often “subscribe” to a streamer at a monthly cost of $5, and then make one-time “donations” as well.

“My Twitch notifications say your followers have increased 200-percent,” he said.

According to the market research group NPD, Americans spent nearly $10.86 billion on video games in the first quarter of this year: –e most ever. They were also watching more as Twitch reported people watched 1.5 billion hours of gameplay on their service in April, a 50 percent increase from the previous month.

“When your kid is home all day every day you need something to do,” said Iowa State University psychology professor Doug Gentile, who focuses on how people interact with video games.

He says humans have an “ABC” complex when it comes to what motivates them. Clinically, it is known as the self-determination theory:

A- Autonomy: we like to be in control.

B- Belonging: we want to feel connected.

C- Competence: we want to feel like we are good at what we are doing.

Gentile says the pandemic stripped away most of these determining factors as we were stuck inside and isolated from people, so it is only natural they would turn to games.

When it comes to video games, Gentile says all of those needs are satisfied as it is a skill-based game that is often played with people and a controller in hand.

“People come together because they want to share their experiences,” said Grandpa. “They want to do something and this is a way of fulfilling that need.”