Video Games in U.K. to Feature Coronavirus Health Messages

'Candy Crush Saga'

Popular games like 'Candy Crush Saga' and 'DiRT Rally 2.0' from such makers as Activision Blizzard's King Digital Entertainment, Codemasters and Rebellion will include "Stay at Home, Save Lives" messages.

The U.K. government is teaming with video game companies to feature health messages amid the new coronavirus pandemic in games to get "essential" messaging, such as "Stay at Home, Save Lives," into more homes.

Geotargeting technology will put these messages in such popular games as Candy Crush Saga, Sniper Elite 4, DiRT Rally 2.0 and Farm Heroes from such game makers as Activision Blizzard's King Digital Entertainment, Codemasters and Rebellion.

Britain's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport unveiled the initiative early Monday, saying it was "working with some of the U.K.’s leading games companies to feature the government’s clear 'Stay at Home, Save Lives' instruction in some of their most popular games to help stop the spread of coronavirus." It added: "Getting through the crisis will require a collective national effort and every generation has a role to play, everyone’s actions right now can have a direct impact upon the lives of others."

The department highlighted that approximately 37 million people in the U.K. play games and that "young people spend more time playing video games than the rest of the population, which is why in-game messaging represents a creative, targeted, and immediate way" to help reinforce health messaging amid the pandemic. 

Said U.K. culture secretary Oliver Dowden: "It is absolutely vital that we all follow the simple government advice to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. I’m delighted to see the U.K.’s brilliant video games industry stepping up to strongly reinforce this message to gamers across the U.K."

King is featuring "Stay at Home" messaging in its network of mobile games, including Candy Crush Saga, and has donated more than 230 digital poster advertising spaces in London, where it normally advertises its products, for public health messaging. Codemasters' DiRT Rally 2.0 is featuring "Stay at Home" posters, with the U.K. government saying that the company is "now looking at ways to roll out more essential health messages in games across Europe and the U.S. in the coming weeks." And Rebellion will be including health messaging on its games landing page from where people load up games, with "the capacity for these messages to link to relevant gov.uk pages where appropriate." Rebellion also publishes comics, such as comics magazine 2000 AD, and has offered advertising in them.

Said Humam Sakhnini, president of King: "Everyone at Activision Blizzard, and the King team I lead, are delighted that we’re able to play a small part and help with the delivery of vital public health information."

Added Jason Kingsley, co-founder and CEO of Rebellion: "We know how fundamentally beneficial video games, like Sniper Elite and Strange Brigade, and comics, like 2000 AD, have been and will continue to be for many of us during this extraordinary time. It makes total sense for us to help promote important public health messaging while keeping those fans entertained in the safety of their homes."

And Toby Evan-Jones, vp business development at Codemasters, said: "At Codemasters we came to realize that technology within our games, which enables the remote updating of banners within the virtual environment, could be repurposed to assist with the coronavirus communication effort.... It’s fantastic to see conversations already being sparked amongst our community."