Gaming Usage Up 75 Percent Amid Coronavirus Outbreak, Verizon Reports

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Video streaming has also seen a bump, up 12 percent during peak usage hours.

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread and citizens have been encouraged to "self-isolate," many are turning to gaming as they are kept indoors by the pandemic. 

According to Verizon, U.S. video game usage during peak hours has gone up 75 percent since the quarantine first went into effect last week. Meanwhile, video streaming has also increased by 12 percent. Overall web traffic is up nearly 20 percent, but social media usage was flat.

"As we see more and more individuals work from home and students engage in online learning, it is a natural byproduct that we would see an increase in web traffic and access to VPN. And as more entertainment options are cancelled in communities across the U.S., an increase in video traffic and online gaming is not surprising," says Kyle Malady, chief technology officer for Verizon.

Verizon expects the peak hour percentages to "fluctuate" and has engineers dedicated to monitoring "network usage patterns 24x7" to "adjust resources as changing demands arise.”

"People are staying indoors for sure, so by logical extension, they’re engaged in indoor activities to a greater extent than before," Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this month, before self-isolation went into effect. "That suggests greater gaming activity. Share prices for game publishers have held up relatively well in the market malaise, so it appears that investors believe people are playing more."

In a recent report, Cowen Inc. analysts Doug Creutz and Stephen Glagola said, "We expect video game sector fundamentals to fare far better than the market average during the current COVID-related extraordinary measures, and during any possible resulting recession. As such, we think the sector is a (relatively) good place to weather market volatility."

Multiple major game companies declined THR's requests to comment on increased usage on their platforms.

According to a new report from StreamElements and Arsenal.gg, which monitor usage in the live-streaming industry, global viewership has increased over the past week on multiple platforms. "Comparing the most recent weekend and Monday to the same timeframe the previous week, Twitch viewership increased 10 percent and YouTube Gaming went up by 15 percent, both of which reflect the popularity of the livestreaming medium now that people are consuming higher volumes of entertainment from home," says StreamElements CEO Doron Nir. 

It's not just gaming and streaming that have seen increases on Verizon's networks. VPN usage was also up 34 percent, likely due to the number of users working from home and logging into secure company networks.