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Revealed: Top gaming trends as players stay home
Mon, 20th Apr 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled billions around the world to stay indoors, and some industries are seeing much higher engagement as a result of people having a lot more free time on their hands as they isolate.

Video games have seen an increase in engagement in the last month or so. This was predictable, but in an effort to understand the gaming habits of those kept inside, games market insights and analytics company Newzoo asked the question: what kind of games are people playing in lockdown?

In a report published last week, the company says that between December 2019 and March 2020, every genre of video game that it covers exhibited a growth in player share on PC—except multiplayer online battle arena games (MOBAs), such as League of Legends and Dota 2, and fighting games.

The report indicated that genres seeing the most growth since December last year were:
  • Shooters (+40%)
  • Gambling games (+36%)
  • Deck-building games (+34%)
  • Arcade games (+28%)
  • Platformers (+25%)
  • Battle Royale (+17%)
Shooters are hitting the mark

While MOBAs didn't see growth since December, they remain the biggest genre on PC by player share.

Hot on its tail, though, is the shooter genre, with Newzoo reporting it had a player share of 46% in March, increasing from 32.6% in December.

Ubisoft's Rainbow Six Siege holds the top spot within this category, but other titles such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Call of Duty Modern Warfare also rank well.

While it's no coincidence that player share for shooters has gone up as more people stay home, Newzoo says that isn't the only factor at play.

A popular update for tactical shooter Escape from Tarkov drew players to the genre in January, whereas Rainbow Six: Siege nearly doubled its player share since 2019, owing to a massive influx of players from China.

Yet another factor contributing to the growth in popularity for PC shooters in March was the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's battle royale mode, Warzone.

Following the trail blazed by PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) and Fortnite, Call of Duty's Warzone performed extremely well in terms of player share, player numbers, and viewership, driven by its free-to-play model and almost-ubiquitous coverage from shooter-focused streamers.

Increased player share isn't the only thing that shooter games are benefiting from

Average daily play time for the shooter genre grew from 38 minutes in December to 60 minutes in March, according to the Newzoo report. And it's not just due to people having more free time in isolation.

Another factor is that some of the biggest growth games (Rainbow Six and Escape from Tarkov) have longer play sessions, with some matches lasting up to an hour.

According to a survey of gamers aged between 10 and 30 in the U.S., Italy, and Japan, two-thirds of respondents reported an increase in time spent playing games of all genres in March 2020.

When asked the reason for increased play time, 46% said they simply have more time to play, and the vast majority (95%) of this group claimed their increase in play time was a direct result of the pandemic.

Some other reasons for increased play time included: a means to socialise (17%), to escape current situation (16%) and home situation changed (15%).

Desire for escapism has players turning to adventure games

Adventure games can appeal to gamers in many ways, but a key one is its ability to provide a means of escapism for players.

It is perhaps not surprising then that adventure games hold the third-largest player share of all genres, after MOBAs and shooters.

Between December and March, the genre's player share grew by 11%.

One of the most popular video games in history, Minecraft is by far the top game in the adventure genre by player share, and it consistently ranks in the monthly top five for all PC games, according to Newzoo.

Minecraft had its biggest PC player share this year in March, accounting for 44% of the entire adventure genre—up from 36% from December.

Isolation is probably the reason for this increase, although the game's significant update in December may also have played a part.

Other games in the adventure genre have exploded on the scene more organically on PC, says Newzoo.

Spiral Knights, for example, is a cooperative online multiplayer title that was initially launched in April 2011.

With no major news or updates in recent years, Spiral Knights became the 4th-largest adventure game by player-share in March.