Nielsen Reports 45 Percent Spike in U.S. Video Game Usage

Gamer - Video Games - Getty - H 2020

Amid quarantine, consumers are turning to game content more than ever before.

Video game usage has seen a big bump amid stay-at-home orders across the globe, Nielsen reports. 

Nielsen Games polled roughly 3,000 individuals who claim they "actively play games" across France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. as part of its weekly Video Game Tracking survey. The results showed that gaming has seen a spike amid the quarantine, as over the week of March 23-29 each country reported an increase in time playing video games. The U.S. saw the most pronounced spike, 45 percent, with France (38 percent), the U.K. (29 percent) and Germany (20 percent) rounding out the list.

Unsurprisingly, online play has also increased, with respondents noting more time spent playing games with others via internet connection. Twenty-nine percent of U.S. gamers said they have been playing more with friends online since the coronavirus pandemic began, while 17 percent of those in the U.K. and 12 percent in France responded that they have been playing more online than offline. French gamers, however, reported a larger increase in "in-person" multiplayer, nine percent, an anomaly given the social distancing guidelines.

As a result of more time spent gaming, more respondents are claiming they are spending more money on the entertainment medium. Thirty-nine percent of those polled in the U.S. said they now spend "somewhat or much more" on video games, while the "share of wallet" for games in the other markets is up at least 23 percent.

With brick-and-mortar retail stores either shuttering or reducing their operations, gamers have also shifted to digital versions of content, with at 23 percent of respondents saying they are buying games digitally more often. This is also reflective of a general shift in the industry towards more digital content, where digital sales of games on Sony's PlayStation 4 surpassed physical sales of titles for the first time last year. The trend is the highest in the U.S., where 42 percent of those polled responding that they are buying games digitally amid quarantine.

Coinciding with reports last week from analytics firms StreamLabs and Stream Hatchet that Twitch had seen record-high viewership in Q1 2020, Nielsen's survey found that a third or more of gamers across the countries polled are watching more streamed gaming content. Once again, the U.S. led with nearly half of those polled responding that they have watched more streaming content in quarantine, while France was No. 2 with 40 percent.