A distant island, a spaceship or a gym: so many places inaccessible in real life during a pandemic … except for players. Some video games have had unexpected success, against a backdrop of confinement or curfew.
• Read also: Record for video game sales in 2020 in the United States
No opponents or competition, in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, released at the end of March on the Nintendo Switch console, we develop our island, we pick fruit and we trade with our neighbors, all in a colorful and childish universe that evolves with the seasons.
And the recipe hits the mark: the game rose to the top of physical sales in France in 2020, according to figures from the GfK institute, dethroning for the first time in seven years Fifa and Call of Duty. Worldwide, Nintendo reports that the game has sold more than 26 million copies.
“The absolute box ofAnimal Crossing can be explained by two factors: a basic trend, which is family play, and a cyclical trend, which was confinement, ”analyzes Nicolas Vignolles, general delegate of SELL (the Syndicate of leisure software publishers).
For him, many parents, suddenly confined with their children, have turned to video games for family entertainment, and ” Animal Crossing is the ideal game for parent-child encounter ”.
As for the change of scenery offered by this opus, many have found an escape from an anxiety-provoking period. “This is a fortuitous coincidence” noted Philippe Lavoué, director of Nintendo France, in the columns of the Figaro, “But we are happy to have helped the confined people to feel less alone and to escape mentally. “
This is the video game surprise of 2020: developed by the small American studio Innersloth, Among Us released in 2018 in complete anonymity. This does not prevent its three developers from continuing to improve their concept, until it ends up being spotted by streamers on the Twitch platform in the summer of 2020. In November, the game had nearly half a billion users, according to figures from the firm Superdata.
In this adaptation of the werewolf game, ten players are locked in a spaceship and must complete various tasks, while one or more impostors hide among them. Each game is punctuated by lively discussions to find the culprits and eliminate them.
The online popularity ofAmong Us is such that political figures are trying it, like the elected Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, icon of the American progressive left, during a game broadcast live on Twitch, with the aim of pushing young people voters to vote in the US presidential election.
For Nicolas Vignolles, it is these exchanges between the players that are at the heart of Innersloth’s success: Among Us is at the border between social network and video games. Nearly one in two players in France today believes that video games create social ties. It didn’t exist before. […] This underlying trend has increased with confinement.
Ring Fit Adventure
If sports and video games rarely go hand in hand, Ring Fit Adventure was able to make the adage lie this year. Sold on the Switch with a flexible ring and a strap to attach a controller to his leg, this title offers the player to fight monsters by doing physical exercises in front of his TV.
Confinement and curfew combined with the closure of sports halls have led many players to give it a try, to the point of causing a stock shortage. “Demand has exceeded our forecasts so much that we have not been able to keep pace in terms of production,” Nintendo lamented in a press release in August.
The stoppage of most football competitions and the postponement of the Euro have in no way affected the interest of the players in the sports simulation of Electronic Arts, used to the top of the rankings. According to GfK, the 2020 vintage is at the top of physical sales in 16 of the 19 European countries studied by the institute.
Chess, Backgammon and other Unos thrived in homes during lockdown, as did their video game versions.
“The success of these games this year may have confused a little by their simplicity” notes Nicolas Vignolles, who sees them above all as “bridges” allowing parents to “gradually enter video games”.
Sign of this craze: 51 Worldwide Games, a compilation of these traditional games released on Switch, is among the bestsellers of the year in France, according to the director of Nintendo France in his interview with Figaro.
For its part, the site chess.com, which allows you to play chess online, registered 2.5 million new members in November alone, also aided by the popularity of the American series The Lady’s Game streamed on Netflix.
“The great lesson of confinement is that the video game has definitely broken this stereotype of leisure which can lock up and isolate”, concludes the general delegate of SELL. “It was a hell of an antidote to isolation. “