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Business News/ News / India/  How gaming industry is fighting the battle against covid-19

How gaming industry is fighting the battle against covid-19

WHO has been encouraging people to stay at home and play video games
  • Many game stores are giving away access to premium stuff for free or giving big discounts
  • WHO has joined hands with gaming companies for a global campaign #PlayApartTogether. (Getty Images)Premium
    WHO has joined hands with gaming companies for a global campaign #PlayApartTogether. (Getty Images)

    NEW DELHI: Confined within the walls of their homes amid the lockdown, people across all age groups are turning to gaming to break the monotony. According to an AppAnnie report, published 17 March, there has been a strong growth in downloads of mobile games in covid-19 affected markets.

    Mobile based online gaming platform, Paytm First Games, reported a 200% jump in its user base in the last one month with 75,000 new members.

    “In the wake of the covid-19 outbreak, online gaming is picking up as a popular option for stay at home entertainment. We are seeing a significant uptick in downloads of our app and the time spent and engagement in our online games has also increased," Sudhanshu Gupta, COO, Paytm First Games, said in a statement.

    WinZO Games has seen a 30% surge in online traffic on their platform in the last two weeks. "To cater to the growing demand, WinZO is offering games like PUBG Mobile and Garena's Free Fire for free in an effort to support the audience with social gaming during the lockdown due to Corona pandemic," said Saumya Singh Rathore, co-founder WinZO Games.

    While smartphones have made accessing games a lot easier, the sheer variety of games on Play Store and App store and other platforms have ensured people won’t run out of options anytime soon.

    Many of the online multiplayer games like PUBG, Fortnite, Call of Duty Mobile or CS Go have a social element, where players can team up with others from anywhere in the world with the option to chat with each other while gaming.

    Recognising the huge potential of gaming in terms of holding the attention and keeping people entertained at the same time, WHO (World Health Organization) is encouraging people to stay at home and play video games and have also joined hands with gaming companies for a global campaign #PlayApartTogether. WHO had, last year, recognised gaming a disorder as a medical condition.

    The objective of the #PlayApartTogether is to inform and encourage gamers to follow WHO’s health guidelines by organising online events, promotions and offering rewards within their games, platforms as well as on social media networks.

    Activison Blizzard, Riot Games, Zynga, Kabam, Unity, Twitch and YouTube Gaming are some of the companies that have signed up for the campaign. Some of these companies have a huge user base which makes them apt for a wider distribution of awareness campaigns on covid-19. For instance, Unity has a 3.3 million developers making games across platforms. Game streaming platform Twitch which has 15 million daily active users, conducted a 12-hour charity stream involving Fortnite and UNO competitions to benefit WHO’s solidarity response fund for covid-19.

    To encourage more people to turn to video games when they need a break from work or studying, many game stores are giving away access to premium for free or giving big discounts. Ubisoft has made the PC version of Rayman Legends available for free on Uplay until April 3, while full access to Ghost Recon Breakpoint will be available for a limited time.

    Online game store Humble Bundle is offering a bundle of videos games and ebooks worth $1,071 for $30. The entire proceeds from the sale of bundle will be donated to support organisations responding to covid-19 cases.

    Users can also take advantage of daily deals on games offered by Steam store and get some of the popular game titles for discounts of up to 80%. Epic Games Store also gives away a free game every week. World War Z, Gone Home and Hob will be available for free this week.

    As the outbreak started to spread outside China, major gaming events like E3, earlier scheduled in June, were cancelled to avoid mass gathering. Several eSports events including PUBG Mobile Pro League are now being held online.

    In addition to use of games and gaming platforms to engage with people and spread awareness, researchers are also experimenting with games that can contribute to the study of coronavirus. A case in point is Foldit, an online puzzle game by University of Washington, where players have to fold protein structures to create new ones.

    In recent week, researchers have determined the structure of the 2019 coronavirus spike protein and how it binds to human receptors. In the game summary, game developers explain, if we can design a protein that binds to this coronavirus spike protein, it could be used to block the interaction with human cells and halt infection.

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    Abhijit Ahaskar
    Abhijit writes on tech policy, gaming, security, AI, robotics, electronics and startups. He has been in the media industry for over 12 years.
    Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
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    Published: 01 Apr 2020, 07:24 PM IST
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