More than half of Americans turned to video games during lockdown

With 2020 consumed almost entirely by the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half of US residents turned to video games to fill the time. According to Nielsen company SuperData’s 2020 year in review, 55 percent of people picked up video games — out of boredom, to escape the real world, to socialize — during the first phase of lockdowns.

The shift points to a larger one in entertainment. Movie theaters, sports, plays, and more have been largely inaccessible, if not outright dangerous to public health. Just as streaming, both of the Twitch and Netflix variety, became a huge source of entertainment, so did games — especially for adults. According to SuperData, 66 percent of consumers from 18 to 24 played more console games, while 60 percent played more mobile titles. Unsurprisingly, buyers also tended toward digital purchases.

SuperData reports that 27 percent of people — about 1 in 4 — played games to stay in touch with each other. In 2020, games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Among Us became cultural touchstones. Animal Crossing was the hit of the early pandemic, while Among Us had nearly half a billion players in November alone. Politicians like Joe Biden and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez capitalized on their popularity to raise awareness for the year’s presidential election. Even Pokémon Go managed to adapt to the pandemic and grow 39 percent year over year, thanks to Niantic’s updates.

As physical spaces disappeared, video games became one of the few places for people to spend time together — whether that was to enjoy virtual concerts in Fortnite, learn how to vote, or just hang out. SuperData estimates that digital games alone garnered $126.6 billion over the course of the year. The numbers may not spike this year as much as they did in 2020, but SuperData predicts “the long-term habits formed during lockdown are here to stay.”


An optimistic outlook on the shift… given that living our lives online is one of the main drivers of the polarisation we’re seeing in society I’m not so sure.

Human are physical creatures, we’re storing up loads of future problems here by willingly ditching these spaces.

But a significant problem with your theory is tying video gaming to this. Is the political polarization being driven at all by online gaming and the answer is almost certainly a big No.

Social media, unbalanced news outlets and, in particular, politicians willing to lean in and profit from that situation are the centers of problems there. At least for myself and friends gaming just took the place of broadcast TV which I rarely watch anymore. Not that there can’t be problems, but pretty sure societal political polarization is not one of them. JMHO.

aND The other half is trump supporters

The number of people playing video games could increase even more when the pandemic is over… A third of the population is so busy, working long hours in healthcare, taking care of children at home while working from home, etc, that there’s no time to even stream a series from Netflix or play anything more time consuming than a round of Among Us. When the pandemic is over, all these people will be saying "I can finally watch The Mandalorian", so 2021 may bring a surge of people discovering and watching/playing the shows and games they missed in 2020.

View All Comments
Back to top ↑