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What the gaming industry should expect in a post-pandemic world

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For the past year, we’ve all been talking about how the pandemic has changed gaming. Now, it’s time to look beyond COVID-19.

Once people became cut off from concerts, bars, and sporting events, gaming become an accessible source of entertainment for quarantined folks stuck at home. As more people become vaccinated in the U.S., many hope that we may return to something closer to the pre-pandemic normal. Of course, we all need to be careful, but we’re approaching days where many of us will be comfortable doing more group activities outside of our homes again.

What does that mean for gaming? During our GamesBeat Summit event, Frank Azor, chief architect of gaming solutions at AMD, talked about life for the gaming industry after COVID during a fireside chat with moderator N’Gai Croal (the founder and CEO at consulting firm Hit Detection) about gaming’s post-pandemic future.

The hardware is out there

With gaming remaining as one of the reliable sources of entertainment during the pandemic, people were happy to spend money to improve their digital entertainment experience with new consoles, accessories, and PC hardware.

“We’ve seen shipments of gaming PCs and monitors up 26% in just one year,” said Azor, talking about 2020 vs. 2019. We also know that many have picked up new gaming consoles like the Nintendo Switch. Demand for the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S have made those machines almost impossible to find.

While these gamers may return to other sources for entertainment, they’ll still be into gaming. Someone who spent $500 on a PlayStation 5 isn’t likely to just let it collect dust under their TV. Someone who spent money on a new console or PC in 2020 is likely to spend money on games and accessories in the future.

“All of this hardware is out there,” says Azor. “There’s more high-performance and new, modern hardware in the hands of gamers right now, and in the hands of the industry, than there’s ever been.” This will give game makers an opportunity to push the limits of software. “We’re going to see richer games.”

Now that studios know that all of these people own high-end gaming consoles or PCs, they can feel more comfortable making high-end software.

The delay game

On a more negative side, the pandemic has also caused plenty of game delays. Many titles have seen their launch dates pushed back, and we expect more delays to come.

Azor explains that this can have something of a cascading effect. The delay of a single game can push back an entire developer’s pipeline, including DLC and expansions for that title and work on future projects. Even when we are years out from the worst of the pandemic, we will still be feeling its effects.

In other words, gaming in a post-pandemic world could be similar to how it has been. The audience grew, and we have reason to hope that those new or returning gamers will stick with the hobby following their investments in new hardware. And the delays that we’ve been seeing over the past year will continue for some time.

The delays could be a small price to pay if it means a larger audience for the industry for years to come.

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