Steam has been exploding in popularity these last few weeks. The PC gaming titan has long since blown past the newly-set record of 20 million concurrent users online, setting a new high point for their user numbers. To be more precise, Steam has peaked at 23,436,186 concurrent players. A big part of this is that the various games out right now are generating tons of hype, but the big driver is the global reaction to the novel coronavirus.
As countries issue lockdown and “shelter-in-place” orders to control the spread of the virus, millions find themselves stuck at home. And with nothing better to do, millions are turning to video games. Steam has seen a huge uptick in users of all games, but the most popular titles seem pretty standard, being the big names in the industry. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and DOTA 2 lead the pack, followed by titles like Monster Hunter World, GTA V, and Rainbow Six Seige.
Of course, the downsides are pretty obvious. Current estimates put the number of total cases globally at 765,000 with almost 37,000 deaths. The US is currently number one globally with cases, with many states not mass-testing, standing at 152,000 cases and around 2,900 deaths. It’s important to note that infections and deaths are widely underreported. Many areas aren’t engaging mass-testing, missing asymptomatic and mild cases by the thousands. This not only leads to an incomplete dataset for tackling the disease but, also contributes to the spreading of the disease.
And as hospitals reach capacity, other emergency services are lost to those in need of medical care. Everything from cardiac arrests to house fires continues to happen, and the people losing their lives might be due to those in need of urgent care not getting it, leading to greater loss of life. Current estimates out of Italy point to
Although amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an obvious set of dark spots within this increased popularity for games and the internet. Various internet provides, entertainment services and other platforms are experiencing unprecedented load, causing some companies to issue directives to slow down or cap traffic to keep servers stable. Such an order was issued by both Sony and Microsoft for PSN and Xbox Live respectively, earlier this month.
Also, various websites are reporting surges in traffic, with major drops in revenue. As companies across the globe cut profit projections and take on losses marketing budgets are the first thing to go. There has been a steady trend of decline and stagnation for advertising revenue in 2020 due to a variety of factors, but novel coronavirus has kicked the trend into overdrive. CPMs (the rate paid by advertisers per 1,000 pageviews) has dropped off a cliff to a low not seen since January 2018. And the worst part is, it’s not done going down. All projections point to ad rates tumbling even lower come April, as Q1 wraps and more companies continue to take on losses.