The gaming industry is currently basking in its glory as one of the most effective attention drivers of any media type in existence. When initial stay-at-home orders were mandated across the US, we saw people paying 3x for consoles on Ebay due to a lack of supply. A lot of these buyers were not actually long-time gamers but people who had not played video games in years. Now many in this growing audience have started moving over to the part-time, and even hardcode, gamer category. Eight months after both the original COVID and gaming surges, we are facing another round of lockdowns with fresh XBOX and PlayStation consoles hitting shelves.
While the great XBOX vs. PS debate roars on, a new capability has allowed fans to put their money where their mouths are. Cross play is now available on multiple popular games like Fortnite, Call of Duty, and Apex Legends, allowing for Xbox, PlayStation, and even PC players to play against one another.
This cross-platform capability has helped to fill a connection void we’ve all been desperately missing over the past year. We have known that gaming is a terrific way to stay connected with friends but now it is truly taking the place of the physical connections we were once so fond of. A lot of the best conversations are not generated from pre-planned chats, they happen over a game of basketball or building a ramp to jump your bikes from (yes these are pointed examples from my childhood). This holds true for any age range, having an activity to gather around helps drive connection and substance in conversation.
While there has been so much to love about what gaming has done for consumers over this past year, it is important to point out one of the underlying dark sides.
The initial response to being able to connect with all your friends and family across different consoles through a free-to-play game seems like it is too good to be true, and to be fair, for some people it really is. For these games to be free to download, developers need to find other ways to make money in lieu of charging $60 for the game itself. Enter Microtransactions, they have been around for a long time and yet still prove to be incredibly successful (remember when Clash of Clans pulled in close to $2B back in 2015?).