How Gaming leaders are battling COVID

How Gaming leaders are battling COVID
Published: 28 May 2020

In recent months video gaming has played an important role in keeping us sane. Whether it is getting more time to play, picking up a new release of a favourite childhood game or ‘giving it a go’ to share some fun with the kids - a lot of us have found comfort in gaming. In addition to making our days more enjoyable and helping to manage stress and anxiety, video games are helping to fill the gaps in social interaction. The ability to play on-line with people from different corners of the world, or our friends and neighbours next door has been vital to many. Nintendo’s newly released ‘Animal Crossing’ is reportedly used by people around the world to meet and spend time online together which has been a great psychological support for many.

An estimated 2.2 to 2.6 billion people were playing games before the pandemic and this number has grown in lockdown. With such a huge market exposure, a lot of us are looking up to our favourite publishers, studios or esports tournament organisers. This has put gaming industry leaders to the test. Answering a surging demand, they are expected to drive revenues while championing compassionate and humane approach and demonstrating strong values to their players and fans. It has been great to see how many have risen to the challenge:  

Donating and fund raising

Publishers and studios around the world made generous donations that are helping to keep charities and public services going through the crisis. Bethesda recently announced a $1 million donation to an array of international and local charities. Electronic Arts has committed at least $2 million to support Covid-19 relief efforts around the world.  Riot Games and its co-founders donated $1.5 million in the USA. Many others influential names in the industry have been donating and fundraising to support the cause, among those are Roblox, CCP Games, Jagex, Sony Playstation, Sega, MAG Interactive, Bungie, Valve, Hi-Rez Studios, Twitch, Humble Bundle, QubicGames and many others.

Joined-up approach to keep people safe at home

Many companies have joined up to create important initiatives which have helped to get government message across to the public such as ’PlayApartTogoether’  - an industry campaign joined by major global organisations, and ’Stay At Home, Save Lives’ campaign  - organised by UK companies in collaboration with the UK Government. Through special ‘in-game’ messages, events and rewards, companies participating encouraged users to follow WHO and Government guidelines, including social distancing, hand hygiene etc., while UKIE (The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment) and Keymailer teamed up with publishers and developers to offer free games to NHS workers.

Keeping us entertained

A number of different initiatives have been organised in the industry to make ‘stay home’ more fun. My personal favourite is a celebrity Mario Tennis Aces tournament organised by Facebook and IMG. ’Stay at Home Slam’ matches played by tennis stars such as Maria Sharapova, Kevin Anderson, Serena and Venus Williams, Madison Keyes and other celebrities helped raise funds for charities. Gfinity operated ePremier League Invitational eSports tournaments, where Premier League football players competed in EA SPORTS FIFA 20 and raised funds for the NHS.

Supporting smaller industry players

While a lot of large industry players are doing well at the moment, the picture for some independent game developers has been less bright, with no big events to showcase their work and cash flow challenges, some of them have been hit hard by the crisis. It is great to see some very timely initiatives from the publishers to support them. Sony has created a $10 million fund to support indie developers under financial strain during the COVID-19. Epic Games announced a new multiplatform publishing initiative that will cover 100% of the cost and offer 50/50 profit share.

Taking care of their employees

How companies treat their own employees says a lot about their values. A lot of gaming companies have shown a responsible and caring approach. Working from home was adopted early by most of the industry. Blizzard and Paradox Interactive arranged care packages for their employees while they're working remotely as part of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Paradox sent out work-friendly ergonomic chairs for those that need them to ensure everyone is comfortable while working from home. Whereas other companies have sent out grocery and snack packages to their employees to show their support.

As the gaming sector continues its growth, the humane and responsible leadership in all areas of the business will be crucial to company’s long-term success. Our Berwick Partners Gaming team is proud to be part of such an amazing sector and strives to contribute to promoting responsible leadership. We spend a lot of time building and maintaining our network of talented emerging leaders in the sector. We’ll be delighted to talk to you about your growth plans and how we can help with identifying the right talent for your business.

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