How the esports and gaming industry is battling Covid-19
The Covid-19 outbreak has brought the world to a screeching halt. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student, professional, unemployed, or self-employed; the corona-virus has affected your life in a significant manner. The same goes for gaming, gamers and anyone affiliated with the industry.
This article looks at the effects of the virus on gaming and how the community is fighting back. If you need to restore a little faith in humanity, this will be worth your time. No sarcasm. Seriously.
So, first, the bad
The influence of the virus on esports will prove absolutely disastrous for the industry. The rocket-fuel we've used to boost esports into geosynchronous orbit is refined from marketing budgets. Small budgets, large budgets, many budgets, esports is fueled by the marketing spend of companies. That spend has gone to zero for many.
According to Business Insider Intelligence, the esports industry will suffer a $1 billion dip in revenue due to the Corona-virus.
The esports space is packed with startups that even in the best of times would struggle to find monetization streams.. And the next few years will be whatever the exact polar opposite of "best of times" is. The 2008 recession cut esports in half, the 2020-21 recession will most likely cut even deeper. Esports peaked in 2019.
Luckily developers like Valve, Riot Games and Blizzard are much more engaged in esports than they were in 2008. While the major sponsorship deals and the first-world marketing budgets might not return for several years, online gaming is still poised for rapid growth.
Communities like Dota2 and CS:GO should overall be fine, except for the drop in physical tournaments. Players traveling around the globe all year round, that's gone.
- It started with a few travel restrictions on players from China until it became a “no one can fly anywhere” type situation
- The League of Legends Championship Series will continue without an audience of press crews with the Riot Rift Rival tournaments canceled
- Dota 2’s ESL One Los Angeles was canceled and the biggest tournament of the esports industry, the International is now postponed as Valve looks through their options
- Psyonix, the devs of Rocket League canceled the World Championship Series that was scheduled to take place in the last week of April
- NBA 2K, Overwatch, CS:GO, Apex Legends, Mortal Kombat; all of these games have had tournaments delayed or canceled
Esports will play differently in 2021, to the point where we're transitioning from esports 2.0 to to "esports 3.0". Among the core changes will be less reliance on player travel and a much greater emphasis on online tournaments and coverage.
Online gaming has exploded due to the global shelter-in-place orders, just look at Counter-Strike's recording-breaking numbers.
Call of Duty’s brand new free-to-play battle royal, Warzone dropped in early March and has since then became one of the hottest games with over 60 million players in just two short months.
The World Health Organization (WHO) named "excessive gaming" a disorder last year, the organization is now encouraging people to stay at home and play games. There's a hindsight is 2020 joke here somewhere.
So, what is the gaming industry doing to help make this situation better? More than you might expect.
Razer has to be, by far, one of the most active in their Covid response initiatives. The company went the whole mile and announced that it would donate one million surgical masks to the world. On 1st April 2020, Razer announced its intention to create a fully automated face mask manufacturing line in Singapore. This was a huge step in the right direction as it isn’t really easy to turn your existing factories that manufacture gaming peripherals and have them make masks instead. Razer engineers had to work around the clock to pivot to surgical masks.
In just 24 days, Razer announced that their factory is now ready and will be producing 5 million masks per day.
Razer has also started selling a limited-edition matte-black and green poster with the words “Stay Home and Game On”. All of the proceeds from the posters go directly to a foundation battling corona-virus.
Razer has also partnered up with the popular PC gaming community, the PCMasterRace to encourage gamers to lend their processing power to Folding@Home. Folding@Home is an initiative that allows people to ‘donate’ their computing resources to foundations researching some sort of disease; in this case, the corona-virus. As a result, millions of gamers around the world donated the power of their rigs to do whatever they can to help research facilities get to the bottom of the situation quickly. The amount of people donating has gotten so big that as of April 26, Folding@Home reported 2.5 exaflops of performance, which is faster than all top 500 of the world’s supercomputers.
So, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that gamers accidentally created the fastest, most powerful cluster of computers in the world today.
Logitech got involved as the initial outbreak hit Wuhan, China. Despite the lockdown, in just four days the local teams from Logitech shipped 60 video-enabled telemedicine carts, to the Huoshenshan & Leishenshan Hospitals in dire need of them.
Logitech Ireland has been using its 3D printing equipment to battle the crisis. The team designed a model for and then printed snorkel-based ventilator masks which are now being used in local hospitals. The team is also collaborating with the local government to ensure an efficient process to pump out as many of these masks into the hospitals in Cork as soon as possible.
Logitech has also been supplying face masks across the globe ever since the outbreak began. 100,000 masks in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, 15,000 to the U.S., Ireland, Switzerland, and Netherlands and another 100,000 soon to be delivered.
The CEO of Logitech Bracken Darrell donated $100,000 to GlobalGiving Coronavirus Relief Fund. This initial donation was just a first of many as Logitech is currently accepting donations which go straight to GlobalGiving. GlobalGiving is sort of a crowdfunding platform, however, it targets humanitarian projects around the world instead of tech-based projects. As of the writing of this article, the platform has gathered almost 15,000 donations which amount to an equivalent of nearly $5 million.
If you’re looking to donate to the platform to help the immediate relief centers around the world, you can either go to Logitech’s website and sponsor the company to make an indirect payment to GlobalGiving or go directly to the platform and donate to the Covid-19 project.
Cooler Master has sort of come up with a really innovative way to get donations as well as keep the community active and united amidst this pandemic. They’ve created the MM711 Challenge. The General Manager for Cooler Master, Bryant Nguyen said that even though gaming peripherals might be low on the list of priorities people have right now, this was a unique and interesting challenge to bring together the community in a trying time.
Cooler Master began accepting designs for color schemes of the mouse, followed by a community vote to determine the final winner. This is how the crowdfunding procedure works. Buyers are going to pay $30 for the MM711 which actually costs $60. The $30 advance that people pay go to the Direct Relief Foundation which is battling Covid-19. The date of the release hasn’t really been specified yet, but once the new mouse comes out, the people that participated in the crowdfunding will be able to purchase the mouse just at a price of $30.
So it's a pre-paid crowdfunding season pass ponzi scheme? For charity?
What a time to be alive. Apart from the donations, Cooler Master will also be giving away a $1,000 cash prize to the winner.
HP has rallied up its 3D printing facilities in Barcelona, Corvallis, San Diego, and Vancouver who are collaborating with local partners to maximize production and supply of whatever equipment local medical centers require.
HP is currently manufacturing Hands-Free Door Openers for hospitals and medical facilities. Door handles are one of the most dangerous culprits responsible for the spread of the virus. HP is also working on Mask Adjusters for health-care workers on shift extended periods. These adjuster clasps ensure that the doctors are comfortable when they’re saving lives and don’t feel any ear pain.
Another product currently in development is face shields which serve as one of the primary sources of protection against the virus. HP is currently in the testing phase to start the construction of Field Ventilators and FFP3 Face Masks in bulk.
If you’re not familiar with Jacksepticeye, you’re missing out on one of the best gaming content on YouTube. With 23 million subscribers, Jack has been persistent in his efforts to help the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
On just April 6, Jack managed to raise $650,000 which will be donated to the World Health Organization, United Way Worldwide, and Red Nose Day / Comic Relief. This amount added to all of Jack’s previous charity streams brings the total of his donations up to $6 million. Astonishing.
The biggest Fortnite streamer on Twitch in 2019, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is making sure he does what he can to the community. He hasn’t done any charity streams for Covid-19, but he did donate $150,000 USD of his own money to Feeding America.
We have been inspired by @vancityreynolds and @jimmyfallon who both made donations to @feedingAmerica We have donated 150,000 dollars, and encourage others to try and stay positive and practice social distancing. pic.twitter.com/FNFsNlMBON— Ninja (@Ninja) March 20, 2020
Ninja said on a video on Twitter, “I’ve been fortunate enough, specifically from me streaming and [getting support from fans], to be in the financial situation that my wife and I are in right now. It’s incredible, so we wanted to give back as much as we can to families that are being affected.”
Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, a popular League of Legends streamer and arguably the best player to ever touch the game has also joined the cause. Faker said that he felt devastated for the health care workers that are working day and night to battle Covid-19. He's donated $25,000 of his own personal money to South Korea’s only government-sanctioned charity, Community Chest of Korea.
Jack “CouRage” Dunlop is also known for his charity work as a streamer. And, his retaliation for the corona-virus comes from his own home as his grandmother passed away from the virus. In order to pay this last memoir to her, on April 23rd, the Courageous vs Corona-virus stream took place which was meant to raise $250,000 for the CDC Foundation. The streamer would end up crossing the goal and managed to earn more than $500,000 for charity.
On another occasion, the sponsor of CouRage’s stream Mountain Dew Ap Game Fuel pledged to donate $5,000 for every game they won on Call of Duty Warzone. CouRage, along with Nadeshot, Scump and Symfuhny managed to win four straight games and raise $20,000 for charity.
The folks behind Call of Duty have made a $2 million donation to the Call of Duty Endowment. If you’re not familiar with the venture, it’s a one-of-a-kind initiative by Activision and which was founded to help vets get back in the employment community. And, in times where unemployment is at an all-time high, Endowment is definitely an appreciated platform.
Yes. Activision did something that wasn't evil. Maybe they killed some puppies right after to equalize.
When it comes to games that have seen an increased hike in users, Rockstar takes the lead by far. According to Steam Charts, the player count for GTA V Online for April 2020 is averaged around 126,000. This number may not be so huge, but this is the highest number we’ve seen since 2015. Red Dead Redemption 2 Online continues to stumble, but GTA V Online is soaring back at the same popularity it did 5 years ago on its release.
So, due to the increasingly high number of players logging on due to quarantine, Rockstar decided to give back. From April 1st till the end of May, Rockstar will be donated 5% of all purchases to help local communities fight Covid-19.
The developer behind the Halo series has also been raising money with a newly released Relief and Recovery REQ DLC pack for Halo 5: Guardians. The pack also comes with a shirt to raise additional funds for their Covid-19 relief initiatives. The company’s community manager reported that the DLC has already helped raise $200,000 for their ventures.
All of the studios owned by Bethesda came together to help out charities like Direct Relief, UNICEF, and other local programs. Bethesda managed to arrange $1 million for these charities.
The developers behind the Eve series have been in the donations game for quite some time. The program, Plex for Good started back in 2005 when the Indian Ocean earthquake and Tsunami devastated Asia. Players can contribute Plex, Eve Online’s in-game currency, which CCP Games then convert to real-life money and donate to the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
You might hate the company just because they’re not letting you get your hands on Cyberpunk 2077, but you have to love what they’re doing for Poland in the country’s fight against Covid-19. The company has donated $950,000 to the non-profit organization Fundacja Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy.
Half of the money comes straight from the pockets of the major shareholders in the company. The other half was donated by the company’s funds.
Sony announced a $10 million fund to support developer indie companies under financial strain from Covid-19. Sony is encouraging people to stay at home and support the Play at Home initiative by giving away free copies of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and Journey.
Even with all that, Sony is going above and beyond by establishing a $100 million fund for Covid-19 response teams which will be distributed among research facilities, educations sectors, hospitals, and industries whose income was disrupted by the virus.
The Steam giant paired up with four indie developers for the Go Play Inside bundle. This was a package consisting of Dead Cells, Subnautica, Celeste, and The Escapists 2. The bundle was sold at a 20% discount and 20% revenue from the bundle was earmarked for a Covid-19 relief fund.
And we made this video guide. :)