Video Game News 2021
In the video game industry, 2020 saw the launch of the next generation of video game consoles, with both Microsoft and Sony Interactive Entertainment having released the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 consoles, respectively, in November 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the video game industry in 2020 included difficulties in manufacturing and international travel.
Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic
The highly contagious coronavirus disease 2019, first observed in China in December 2019, began a major outbreak across the world in January 2020, which is ongoing as of November. Within China, steps to prevent spread of the disease came around such as large-scale quarantine of affected populations which have impacted production within the country. This has had a large number of impacts on social, medical, and economic systems worldwide.
The video game industry has been impacted by the outbreak in various ways, most often due to concerns over travel to and from China or elsewhere, or related to slowdowns in manufacturing processes within China. Numerous games have been delayed due to the new working conditions related to COVID, and most industry events have been cancelled or reformated into virtual showcases.
Total spending in video games grew to US$33.7 billion in the United States during the first nine months of 2020 compared to US$27.9 billion for the same period in 2019. Easy-to-learn games with little to no narrative and large audience enjoyment potential, including Fall Guys, Among Us, and the Jackbox Party Packs, saw great increases in popularity during the pandemic as a means to avoid the “cultural trauma” of the situation.
Reactions to the George Floyd protests
In the wake of the George Floyd protests and resurgence of support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement across several entertainment sectors in June 2020, the video game industry also responded.
Most large publishers and developers shared their support of the protests and BLM as with other larger entertainment companies. A number of video game announcement events had been planned on the week of June 6 and onward as a virtual replacement for E3 2020 (cancelled from the COVID-19 pandemic), but most of these were shifted by a week or more to allow the voices of the protests to have the necessary focus.
Many companies announced plans to donate funds towards black-oriented organizations, including Electronic Arts, 2K Games, Riot Games and Humble Bundle committing US$1 million to such foundations, while others like Ubisoft, Square Enix and The Pokémon Company also committed to significant donations.
Itch.io raised over US$8.1 million for black charities through sales of a game bundle with games from over 1,300 developers. Electronic Arts and Infinity Ward pledged to combat racism that they were aware had persisted by users in their games in light of the events.
In late June and early July, as a continuation of prior #MeToo movement effects on the industry from 2017, several people started speaking out of specific accounts of sexual misconduct and harassment towards others in the industry.
Initial complaints had been directed towards Twitch streamers but soon had reached major companies including Insomniac Games, and Electronic Arts, with most studios taking actions to deal with the accused and instituting better policies to handle internal and external issued related to sexual misconduct.
In particular, charges were made toward the CEO of Evolution Championship Series (EVO), Joey Cuellar, who was subsequently let go. Multiple publishers that had backed the event had pulled out on this news, and the EVO event, which had already been reworked as an online event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was subsequently cancelled.
A large number of cases were found through Ubisoft’s executive-level staff, leading to a number of high-level departures and major internal review of how the company handled such complaints in the future.