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As people continue to shelter in their homes in the fight against coronavirus, videos games are stepping up. The medium provides entertainment, but it’s also a source of socialization. And now data-tracking firm Nielsen is seeing the turn to games reflected in its monthly survey (as first reported by The Hollywood Reporter). Nielsen talked with approximately 3,000 gaming fans in the United States, the U.K., Germany, and France from March 23 through March 29. And it found that 45% of respondents in the U.S. say they played more games compared to the previous week.

Many U.S. states and nations have shelter-in-place orders that require people to stay at home. And while people are also spending extra time watching video content, gaming is benefiting from its social options. For anyone isolated from friends and family, multiplayer games are an easy way to stay connected while having fun. And 29% of gaming fans in the U.S. say they are spending more time with other people in online games.

Nielsen respondents say they are spending more money on games

But while players are more engaged with games, that might not equate to spending in this situation. Huge parts of the economy are shut down, with the Washington Post reporting that more than 10 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance in March. This is leaving people with less money to spend. While that could hurt gaming companies eventually, that hasn’t started yet.


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Nielsen’s report found that 39% of its U.S. respondents say they are spending more money on video games since the pandemic began.

This is one of the reasons that people like Activision chief executive Bobby Kotick have said that games are “recession-proof.” Gaming is relatively affordable — especially if more people turn to free-to-play games like Call of Duty: Warzone and Fortnite. But we are still on the early side of our current economic downturn, and gaming may enjoy a temporary bump before people tighten their spending.

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