With the summer season in full swing, many of us are still constrained by the limitations of physical distancing. Despite the gradual loosening of quarantine regulations, it is difficult to predict when our lives will be back to ‘normal’. This uncertainty combined with our human need to socialize has driven us to find creative ways to stay connected within our own social circles.

A recent study showed that due to the pandemic, social media engagement increased 61% over normal usage rates. Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp messaging increased 50% in countries that were hit the hardest by COVID-19. But there’s another social media platform on the rise, video games.

Video Games as the New Social Media

As most businesses, schools, and sporting events remain shut, many have turned to video games for their daily dose of entertainment. According to Nielsen’s SuperData, game spending totalled a record-breaking $10.5 billion US in April 2020. In the month of May alone, game sales in the U.S. reached $977 million, a 52% increase year-over-year. People have turned to video games for comfort in a time of uncertainty, and as a means for camaraderie and playtime with friends and family.

Gamers use online games to reconnect with friends through virtual chat rooms and multiplayer co-op campaigns. Within homes, parents are using console games for family activities with their children. Advances in gaming technology has allowed users to go even beyond simply playing a game. They can now use video games as virtual multi-purpose venues and more.

Work-From-Home Teachers and Virtual Tours

Teachers from across the globe are seeking new ways to engage their homebound students. In 2018, Ubisoft, the creator of Assassin’s Creed: Origins which is set in ancient Egypt, added a new Discovery Mode to the game to allow users to explore the historical sites and cities within the game. The newest game in the franchise,  Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey which is set in ancient Greece, has maintained this Discovery feature in addition to other educational content that includes quizzes. “We’ve been contacted by several teachers since the covid-19 situation, who are asking for tips on how to use [the game] with their students,” says Etienne Allonier, brand director for Assassin’s Creed.

The game is only one of many other games that are repurposing video games to aid in remote learning. Minecraft launched an education mode in 2016 which Microsoft has recently made free for educators and students due to the pandemic. Through a companion app called Classroom Mode, teachers have additional tools and control levels over the digital world their students explore. The game has been used to teach various concepts including geometry and even climate change.

Live Events Through Online Games

Attending a live concert in person seems like a far-fetched idea, given our current circumstances. Livestream concerts became such a rage since the beginning of the lockdown. But as people became tired of seeing acoustic performances from living rooms, some musicians turned to video game controllers to reach their fans.

Fortnite and Travis Scott

Famed rapper, Travis Scott, used one of the most popular online games, Fortnite, to put on a virtual concert within the game. He collaborated with the game’s creators to emulate more realistic aspects of the live concert atmosphere. Richard Trapunski of Now Magazine credited the event as being revolutionary in terms of opening people’s eyes to the possibilities of video game concerts, especially during this pandemic, and looked at the potential for these virtual concerts to be real money-makers for video game companies and sponsors.

Prescription Video Games

Video games have gone beyond the realm of entertainment and into therapeutics. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the first video game-based treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The game EndeavorRx aims to be a drug-free option for improving symptoms linked to ADHD, and is to be used on a prescription basis for children eight to 12 years of age. This interactive game allows users to create their own avatar with whom they are able to perform obstacles, complete tasks, and earn in-game rewards. This new development enables parents to help their children manage ADHD in a medication-free and fun way, encouraging more children living with the disorder to undergo treatment and improve their daily lives.

Investing in Video Games with HERO ETF

COVID-19 has slowed down our economy and many of our industries. Gaming isn’t one of them. The video game industry has been booming with record-breaking sales since the first quarter of this year, giving investors the opportunity to take advantage of this upward trend.

Evolve E-Gaming Index ETF (TSX Ticker: HERO), Canada’s first esports and video game exchange-traded fund (ETF), is a great way to access the world’s leading gaming companies like Nintendo, Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and Take-Two Interactive.*

In March 2020, HERO was one of only five TSX-listed ETFs (out of 581) to post a positive return during the market downturn. Raj Lala, President and CEO of Evolve ETFs, explained in a recent interview with Wealth Professional that he sees the gaming industry as resilient even in a challenging economic environment.

For more information about the Evolve E-Gaming Index ETF or any of Evolve ETFs’ lineup of exchange-traded funds and mutual funds, please visit our website or contact info@evolveetfs.com.

 

*HERO portfolio as at May 29, 2020.