Video games are one of the few cultural activities to have performed well during confinement, with players cloistered at home with their console. But behind it, the industry suffered like the others from the economic slowdown. And it will take him a while to recover.

Video games were one of the flagship activities of containment. We have never played as much, on console or computer, as in the past two months. Sales records, connection records for online games: while cinema and music looked gray, video games were enough to be satisfied ... at least in appearance. Because the industry, however, has been idling for two months. And the restart will be long. 

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Already postponed games

First consequence of the confinement: several games had to be postponed, for lack of being able to bring together the development teams in the final sprint. The Last of Us, Part II , the sequel to one of the best games of the 2010s, and therefore eagerly awaited by fans, was due out on May 29. But it was postponed for three weeks, to June 19. "We have to face the reality of many logistical problems over which we have no control, and we will not be able to release The Last of Us, Part II satisfactorily in time," said studio Naughty Dog.

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Same delay for  Ghost of Tsushima  : this tempting game which promises to place us in the armor of a Japanese samurai of the 13th century was postponed from June 26 to July 17. "The fact of working from home imposes a certain number of constraints, but  Ghost of Tsushima  is almost ready. We will take advantage of these few more weeks to bring some finishing touches and to eliminate the bugs", indicated the editor, Sony Interactive Entertainment. For its part, the French giant Ubisoft has warned: the coronavirus could force it to postpone at least one of the five major games in its program for the next 12 months.

"Some will not recover from the crisis"

But will the players be there? Not sure… Summer is already not a good time to play video games. So after two months of confinement, the desire to take the air may put the controllers in the closet for some time. The big studios should not suffer too much but the smaller ones, they could have more difficulties. "This is a halt. Companies, especially service providers, will experience extremely dark months. And some will not recover from this crisis," said Julien Villedieu, general delegate of SNJV, the National Union of video games. 


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Hence, according to him, an overall assessment "to qualify". "Games consumption experienced a very strong increase during confinement. Mobile games and new console features benefited from the time that players had to devote to it for two months", underlines Julien Villedieu. With, as a result, new consumption habits: "In April, for the first time in France, sales of dematerialized games ( download, editor's note ) exceeded those of boxed games."

But in parallel, the creators of games, they suffered. "With telework, teams have sometimes lost productivity. And companies have suffered the consequences of the cancellation of important events, including E3 ( the largest fair dedicated to video games, which was to be held in June, has been canceled, editor's note ) where a lot of contracts are tied ", explains Julien Villedieu. 

New consoles to the rescue

Despite everything, Julien Villedieu remains confident. "It's a complicated period but growth will come back as strong as before," he wants to believe. Like the rest of the video game industry, he places his hopes in the new generation of consoles. Sony's Playstation 5 and Microsoft's Xbox X Series are announced for the end of the year, with a plethora of new games.

"Traditionally, console sales decline the year before the arrival of a new generation. There is waiting around the PS5 and the Xbox," says Julien Villedieu. This is why, right now, "the studios are working for 2021".