COVID-19 drives up WoW Classic queues, threatens UK’s only videogame museum


Many MMOs and online games – at least those that can be operated more or less from a distance – are seeing surges of players and revenues thanks to half the globe being under COVID-19-related lockdown, but that doesn’t mean the industry is entirely safe. Yesterday, the UK’s National Videogame Museum announced that it may have to close permanently following the epidemic, lacking as it is in ongoing funding.

Ian Livingstone, maybe best known for helping to found Games Workshop in the ’70s, is one of the museum patrons begging for aid. “Coronavirus threatens the very existence of this unique place,” he says. “The UK’s only museum dedicated to videogames is now under threat. As a new charity which uses videogames to inspire the next generation, we have no safety net to help the Museum weather the storm. We’ve had the support of some patrons and companies, but without visitors the museum is in grave danger. If you care about videogames, please donate in any way you can.”

The press release says the museum saw 40,000 guests last year and “had been planning an ambitious programme celebrating games studios and games culture in 2020/21, including workshops tied to the national curriculum, an international videogames preservation network and new exhibitions.”

Meanwhile, Icy Veins reports that a whole lotta stuck-at-home folks are heading back into WoW Classic, causing new queues in the game – particularly in Europe – that had previously seen a shrinking population since last fall.

Firemaw-Eu Queue statistics from classicwow

In other COVID-19 gaming news…

  • Riot Games and its founders have donated $1.5M US to fighting the pandemic. The Wrap (via Polygon) that Riot and its two founders will each pony up $500K, with portions going to the LA Food Bank and other aid groups.
  • Nintendo has donated nearly 10,000 masks to first responders in the state of Washington – they’re the good N95 respirators, too.
  • On the downside, Nintendo did close all of its repair centers in the US, since it’s not considered an “essential” business needing to stay open through the pandemic. Your broken Switch may disagree, however.
  • Damn, GameWorks still exists! Apparently, the arcade/restaurant chain was still around in seven cities and doing great – until the virus hit. GIbiz has an interview with the CEO in which he notes no salaried staff have been laid off, though shiftworkers aren’t being paid through the closure.
  • The Taipei Game Show, originally planned for February and then postponed to June, has now been fully called off. Taiwan’s event is generally on par with Gamescom, so this is a huge deal. This is unlikely to be the last optimistically rescheduled event that will be dropped this summer, unfortunately.
  • Finally, Rezzed Digital kicks off today – in digital format, of course, filling the real-world gap left by the delay of EGX Rezzed.

Please stay safe, folks, and let everyone in the comments know how you’re doing.

More on the impact of the virus on gaming:


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I don’t really feel for the Museum that much during this time. A lot of people are dying, a closing video game museum in comparison doesn’t mean a lot to me. Besides, large numbers of businesses are struggling and need help. Many businesses that support people being able to eat and take care of their families need help right now too.

Sure, I’m sorry that they may need to close their doors, but priority wise it doesn’t pull at my heartstrings that much during this time with so much else going on.

I think most people need to save their money to help out family members and others closer to home too. It’s hard to say what the impact will be in the end on ourselves, our families, our communities.

Maybe they’ll be able to get some government help and funds.

It’s fine for them to ask, and of course this is a good place to put up a note about them asking, I just don’t feel for them as much right now as I would if this was something happening just to them and there weren’t closings happening all over.