Facebook Gaming, the state of the video game industry due to COVID-19, and GameStop’s revitalization plan

In this week’s gaming news, Facebook takes on Twitch and Mixer in the streaming wars, social isolation turns out to be a double-edged sword for the gaming industry, and GameStop announces plans to help its business recover following its loss of sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facebook turns to gaming with new streaming app
Facebook has officially joined the video game streaming war with Facebook Gaming, a mobile app dedicated to the creation and consumption of live gameplay, for Android users worldwide. As noted by CNBC, Facebook Gaming enables streamers to livestream straight from a smartphone, thus eliminating the need for content creators to invest in third-party broadcast software; something that is required for streamers on Amazon’s Twitch and Microsoft’s Mixer. TechCrunch explains that social engagement is the focus of the app, and its release date was moved up from June to April in order to bring more people together while practicing social distancing. WIRED notes that while past endeavors from Facebook – namely Notify, Facebook Deals, and Facebook Camera – flopped, Facebook is invested in its games presence and has seen some success already due to deals with popular streamers and the platform’s “enormous captive audience.” Facebook Gaming is awaiting approval from Apple to be approved for iOS.

The true life of video game consumption as told by COVID-19
Mandatory physical distancing, quarantines, and lockdowns across the globe due to COVID-19 has led to a record number of people turning to video games to stay virtually connected with others. According to industry-tracking firm NPD Group, the video game industry saw the highest number of sales since 2008, reports The New York Post, The Hollywood Reporter, and GameSpot, with hardware, software, and accessory sales reaching $1.6 billion in March 2020. However, The New York Times warns that while gaming sales are up, game production is down due to various logistical challenges brought on by COVID-19 work-from-home mandates. Sony, Amazon, Square Enix, and more have already announced the postponement of upcoming games or game updates, with more delays from additional companies expected to be announced in the near future.

GameStop CEO takes a pay cut, looks to reopen select store locations following sales dip
In order to help his company financially recover from mandatory store shutdowns due to the novel coronavirus, GameStop CEO George Sherman announced he is taking a temporary base salary reduction of 50% and top brass will take a reduction of 30%, reports IGN and Polygon. Sherman claims that GameStop employees will also have the option to work under a half-time pay model or opt-in to a temporary furlough program while society continues to navigate through social distancing and isolation. The retailer is having trouble paying rent, notes The Wrap and Kotaku, after it saw a 23% loss in sales due to the pandemic, leading Sherman to make the decision to reopen select stores in Georgia, South Carolina, Austria, Germany, and Italy. The news comes a month after the video game retailer failed to convince local governments that it was an “essential business” and should stay open to the public in the middle of the global pandemic.