Welcome back to another roundup of how MMOs and the gaming industry are faring and fronting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
First up: CCP’s Hilmar Pétursson told the BBC that EVE Online’s playerbase jumped from 7,000 newly rolled accounts per day to 11,000 just in the last few weeks, coinciding with lockdowns in Spain and Italy. “Our game is famous for being a very social game,” he told the UK publication. “Netflix and all that is good for passing time, but that doesn’t really give you a social context. And people are craving a social context.”
It’s not looking too good for a live Gamescom 2020. While organizers have previously said the show could go digital, it’s now looking more and more likely, especially given the German government’s new (as of today) decision to block all large events through August 31st. That would almost certainly cover Gamescom, which pulls in a third of a million people every August.
DC Universe Online has extended its Open Episodes through May 11th. They’d originally been extended through today. This means players have unfettered access to content through Episode 35: Metal Part I (“with increased loot lockout times”).
Epic Games has likewise extended Fortnite’s Chapter 2, Season 2, past its April 30th date. Instead, the next season will launch on June 4th. “We have multiple game updates on the way that will deliver fresh gameplay, new Challenges, bonus XP, and a couple more surprises up our sleeve,” the company writes in its delay announcement.
Neverwinter has turned on a profession bonus event for the next two weeks.
Sony is the latest company to pitch in cash to help the world respond to the novel coronavirus. The PlayStation company’s Play At Home initiative will be dishing out free games to gamers and “establishing a fund to help smaller independent game studios who may be experiencing financial difficulties continue building great experiences for all gamers.”
Finally, a bit about Blizzard. Vox’s Intelligencer blog rattled off a list a companies thriving during the pandemic, including Activision-Blizzard, all thanks to streaming (and gaming). Meanwhile, Kotaku has a piece up on Activision-Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick, who reportedly handed out his personal phone number to all employees so that they could contact him directly regarding any “concern that relates to [staff] healthcare.” Kotick says “a few hundred” have done so to date.
Please be safe out there, folks.
More on the impact of the virus on gaming: