Habits of Online Gamers in 2020

2020 was a challenging year. The global pandemic caused worldwide disruption. Almost every industry had to pivot to accommodate new circumstances. It impacted millions of livelihoods as people lost their jobs and worked from home.

However, some industries thrived during these unprecedented times, and online gaming was one of them. People worldwide used online gaming to cope with their circumstances, forging friendships, building communities and improving their mental health. We surveyed 400 online gamers about their experiences and habits during 2020 that will likely shape the industry's future. Check out the results below.

Gen X Games the Most

It comes as no surprise that the generation who grew up with the first video games played the most online games in 2020. 38% of survey respondents belonged to Gen X (people 41 to 56 years old), and responses were almost evenly split, with 51% female and 49% male. Millennials (or Gen Y; people 25 to 39 years old) were the next highest reported gamers, with 31% participating in online gaming last year. This generation had a higher number of female gamers—61%—showing the number of female gamers is on the rise.

COVID-19 and Online Gaming

The COVID-19 pandemic increased screen time for 90% of our respondents. That’s not to say increased screen time is necessarily a bad thing. Screens brought comfort and entertainment and served a broader purpose. They helped people stay connected to friends and family, get work done quickly and efficiently, and disconnect from the seemingly endless cycle of difficult news. While 34% of respondents stuck to familiar games and old favorites, 81% of those surveyed tried a brand-new online gaming activity during COVID-19. From international streaming platforms such as Twitch to various new devices, like PS5 and Xbox Series X, gamers' possibilities in 2020 and beyond are virtually endless.

The Benefits of Gaming

Gone is the ‘loner’ stereotype that used to accompany online gaming; people of all ages can benefit from some time in front of the screen. The rise of multiplayer games and team gaming means logging in to play is a real, social activity. In fact, 88% of people consider online gaming valuable social engagement and entertainment. When people are physically isolated, online games can provide an opportunity to avoid social isolation. Many games have multiplayer modes that allow friends and families to play together, no matter where they are in the world. Nearly 68% of respondents used online gaming to fulfill social interaction needs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. For emotional and psychological benefits, 73% of people stated online games provide them with the following:

  • Social and romantic life;
  • Stress relief;
  • Allows them to unplug;
  • Mood improvement;
  • Anxiety management;
  • Experience new things.
Overall, online games are beneficial and a great way to socialize with loved ones or even meet new people, during a time of isolating and beyond!

Online Gaming at Work

With much of the world shifting to a ‘work from home’ (WFH) model, the work/life balance flipped upside down in 2020. Many people put in long hours to pivot entire business models and ensure consistent and transparent communication among employees and team members, all while being remote. Many of our respondents said online games gave them a way to interact with their remote coworkers. Thirty-three percent of those surveyed played online team-building games with coworkers during the pandemic.

It’s no surprise people also turned to online gaming to give their minds a break and relieve stress. Nearly 74% of respondents stated they played more online games during breaks at work during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 46% admitted to playing online games during working hours. Why? For nearly 42% of respondents, online games gave them a chance to give their minds a break and escape.

Gaming with Family and Friends

Social distancing forced many people to be away from family and friends for the majority of 2020. Millions turned to technology to stay connected through the long months of lockdown and the holidays. From FaceTime parties to Zoom happy hours, there was no lack of creativity for online connectedness! Many also turned to multiplayer games with friends and family, with 70% of respondents enjoying games with their inner circles during COVID-19.

They enjoyed it so much, 89% have continued playing as a way to stay connected even asquarantine eased up in many states. Among us, Animal Crossing, Fortnite, and Fallguys: Ultimate Knockout were all popular multiplayer games in 2020. The best games see competitors working together to achieve a common goal, foster communication and instill a sense of purpose. This trend will likely continue as technology evolves in 2021 and beyond.

The year of COVID-19 was a banner year for the online gaming industry. These online gaming trends are likely here to stay for the foreseeable future, as online platforms and streaming capabilities gain momentum and provide a seamless experience for gamers. We’ll be sure to keep an eye out for future trends for online gamers in 2021 and beyond!