The future of entertainment – why gaming is not just here & now

In 2020 as the world changed, so too did people’s entertainment habits.

With daily routines and habits disrupted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a shift not only in people’s behaviors around entertainment consumption, but the emotional need states that it fulfilled. In a world without physicality, people increasingly looked for ways to find social connection, joy and purpose through virtual means.

Cross-platform media consumption was reinvigorated, a result of both the increased time at home and a desire for connection and escapism through entertainment. Not only did people’s entertainment usage change, but so too did the role that it played in their day-to-day lives.

For many individuals, gaming was a way to fulfill these emotional needs. While engagement with video games increased during 2020, gaming itself is far from a new phenomenon. For most people, this increased engagement with video games signified a return to gaming, or an opportunity to reconnect with a pastime they had previously enjoyed but lacked the time to spend with it.

With activities outside of the home restricted and commute times reduced or eliminated, people found themselves with additional time throughout the day and more opportunities to engage with digital entertainment. A survey from Activision Blizzard Media found that 91% of US adults reported greater usage across at least one digital entertainment media. For many, this digital entertainment helped fill the gap created by the difficulties in resuming previous work and leisure activities that used to be part of their day-to-day routine.

While increased media consumption was a hallmark of 2020, gaming was a standout. Gaming’s ability to provide social connection, especially during a time of restricted physical interaction, was a key motivator for many who reported increased video game usage during 2020. For brands and marketers, there is an opportunity to maximize impact by meeting these audiences where they are increasingly spending their time. Gaming has never been more prevalent, and it’s proven to be a more powerful platform to reach and connect with key audience groups.

This report, Social connection in a virtual world, explores the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on entertainment consumption, including engagement with gaming. It uncovers not just how individuals’ entertainment habits changed, but why they changed. The research aims to better understand what these behaviors and emotional connections will mean long term for audiences and brands alike, providing insight into entertainment and gaming usage in a post-pandemic world.

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