With the spike of both COVID-19 cases and the summer heat, we’re all looking for something to do indoors that keeps us both safe and cool. As National Gaming Day falls in July, it’s a good time to look at how cable’s fast, reliable broadband has contributed to the rise in online gaming, especially during this pandemic.
“Gaming has grown pretty explosively during the COVID-19 pandemic as adults and children seek entertainment outside of streaming video,” according to Sandvine’s most recent Global Internet Phenomena Report.
Neither today’s sophisticated online games – nor their growth – would be possible without the more than $290 billion invested over the past two decades by the cable industry to build broadband infrastructure. The result? In just a few years, internet speeds have quadrupled, allowing cable broadband to meet consumer needs for streaming, downloading and gaming.
Those speeds have Americans taking note and subscribing. Cable is the leading U.S. broadband provider with about two-thirds of all high-speed internet subscribers – and growing. The nation’s top cable companies, including those providing service in Texas, added more than 1.2 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2020, the most of any quarter since the first quarter of 2007.
Over 164 million adults in the United States play video games, and three-quarters of all Americans have at least one gamer in their household, according to a 2019 report by the Entertainment Software Association, the latest data available.
The global video game market is forecast to be worth $159 billion in 2020, about four times box office revenues ($43 billion in 2019) and almost three times music industry revenues ($57 billion in 2019), reports the World Economic Forum.
All these gamers – and possibly new, recent converts – are driving traffic on the internet during this pandemic as “consumers grew bored of video, decided that games were more fun than work, or new content was released to capitalize on the attention that games were receiving during the shutdown,” according to Sandvine’s May report on internet activity during COVID-19.
The research company found that gaming ranked seventh overall in global internet traffic, but its share grew the second most of any category, from 2.2% of all global traffic in 2019 to 4.24% of all global online traffic in 2020.
Last year, the prediction was that gaming would make up 7% of all internet traffic by 2022, a nine-fold growth from 2017.
That forecast is likely obsolete due to the coronavirus-related acceleration seen in the gaming industry:
- Microsoft reported a 130% increase in multiplayer engagementacross March and April.
- Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass service – described as a “Netflix for games” – surpassed 10 million members, the company announced in April.
- Nintendo announced in early May that sales of its Switch console were up 24% year-over-year, and its new game, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons,” had sold 13.5 million copies since its release in late March.
- Twitch, the most popular video game streaming platform, saw 49 billion gaming hourswatched in April – a 50% increase since March – according to data from Arsenal.gg provided to The Washington Post by StreamElements.
- Video game sales in March approached $1.6 billion, a 35% year-over-year increase, according to NPD.