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How Did The COVID-19 Pandemic Change Our Gaming Habits?


Ever wonder how many hours we spent playing mobile games during COVID-19?

90,000,000 hours.

Let’s make it easy to visualise that. 90 million hours is equivalent to 10,000 years. If we look back at the world 10,000 years ago, it was experiencing the Ice Age. The thawing of the Ice Age redefined how we functioned at a cellular level. It turned us from hunter-gatherer nomads to a civilisation with the rich socio-political, economic, and cultural lives we experience today.


So it was with the COVID-19 pandemic. As the global population adapted to their ‘forced modern hermitage’, their understanding of the digital world grew sevenfold. And in just three years, many went from digital nomads strutting on social media to individuals with newfound digital interests and hobbies! One of those is adapting to our gaming habits.


A 62% uptick in the time spent on mobile gaming was observed during March 2020. During this time, hyper casual games saw between 8-10% surge in player traffic. Kwalee was able to enjoy this surge in those years, boosting our goal to hit 1 billion installs worldwide. We celebrated this giant success with a fun little video on what big numbers like 1 billion can mean.


As for PC gaming? That saw a giant surge in gamers too. A press release from Limelight suggests citizens in Asia-Pacific regions play video games for 10 hours each week, with the average APAC gamer playing them for almost five hours in one sitting. Even more impressive, a Valve report reveals we spent 31.3 billion hours playing video games on Steam in 2021. That’s 3.7 million years! In retrospect, the oldest human ancestor (that we know of) is a 3.2 million-year-old fossil named ‘Lucy’. And we consider Homo Erectus — an extinct species of humans — to be the first humans, who were around only 1.9 million years ago!

Surely, this (huge) increase in gaming habits would’ve changed people’s expectations about games? As a matter of fact, it did, and quite positively so. They‘re now discussed with an interest in their capacity to improve social and mental well-being. In fact, a 2021 research article suggests people’s gaming habits helped them cope with the lockdowns and seek social opportunities.


In 2023, roughly 50% of mobile gamers preferred playing mobile games to checking social media. As for the 6.92 billion users with access to a smartphone? About 62% of them play a mobile game regularly; 43% doing so while watching TV. And most multiplayer games during COVID — particularly Animal Crossing, Roblox, Fortnite, and Fall Guys — offered comfort and social connectivity for PC and console gamers during 2020.


COVID has had a ginormous impact on video games. It’s mindblowing how we clocked in over 31.39 billion hours playing all kinds of video games during the lockdown. But what does this mean to the average game developer?

A couple of things:

  1. Long gaming habits are here to stay. More and more people are excited for interesting games that offer a sense of relaxation and calmness to combat ‘pandemic fatigue’. So that means there’s a giant opportunity to work on interesting innovative game ideas.
  2. The 2022 recession left the economy in shambles, so much so even the games market reflected loss in sales. This hasn’t happened in almost a decade. However, the mobile market proved more profitable than the PC and console markets combined, and it’s going to make a giant comeback in 2023.


These two telltale signs would motivate any game developer to jump in and work towards their dreams. Long story short, if you’re not currently looking to finish your game and publish it this year – you should!


We’ve built a strong publishing strategy spearheading our multiplatform efforts, publishing new PC and console games like Scathe. And in 2022, we won Publisher of the Year at TIGA and Mobile Game Awards for our massive contributions to the mobile games industry.


If you’re trying to make your way into the industry to make games full-time, we can complement your skills and increase the odds of success with your games and studio. Whether that’s setting up a world-class marketing strategy, straightening out the legalities, or needing advice with development, we have your back.


As an award-winning game publisher, we know what it takes to turn your mobile game into a chart-topping success. Submit your mobile games through our official Publishing Portal to market-test them, or show your PC and console game to our scouts. All you need are a few minutes and a couple of gameplay videos or a simple playable prototype of your mobile game. Follow us on social media (Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn | YouTube) to get the latest deets on our gamedev efforts.


Passionate minds of Kwalee, delivering captivating insights for gamers and developers alike.

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