How green is gaming? It’s a question more and more people in the video game industry—from indie developers, AAA studios, and hardware manufacturers to players themselves—are beginning to ask.
A recent global survey from Accenture found that 66% of gamers are more likely to play socially responsible games. In addition, only 9% have a negative reaction to the idea of games promoting environmental sustainability or championing marginalized communities.
The majority of gamers are environmentally conscious. Developers are now noting this trend in social awareness among their audiences and are beginning to tackle the issue of sustainability in their games.
So, is gaming unsustainable, and if so, what are the major gaming brands doing to fix the issue? Read on to find out.
A Newzoo report from the end of 2021 found that there are over 2.95 billion gamers worldwide. There is a predicted growth of up to 3 billion by 2023.
The market for video games has exploded in the past few years – thanks partially to the pandemic.
As lockdowns came into place, people found they had more time at home, and many increased their time gaming or started gaming where they had not before as a result. From 2019 to 2020, the number of US console gamers increased by 6.3% and console sales rocketed by 155% globally by March 2020.
As more gamers emerge and more consoles are created, how are game developers able to ensure their products are sustainable?
When it comes to game consoles, it is easy to see how they are unfriendly to the environment. Plastic casing, metal circuit boards, precious minerals from conflict zones, e-waste, and electricity are the major ways that developers and users see the impact of gaming on the environment.
Entering into web3, and gaming coming in line with more meta trends in tech, games consoles are becoming smaller and more invisible.
Next-gen gaming that is based in the cloud has already arrived. Digital consoles like the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition and Xbox Series S, offer users the ability to download games directly from their console rather than purchasing a cartridge, or disk in a plastic case.
Less visible tech does not mean there is less damage to the environment, but it can make that damage easier to ignore.
Cloud gaming takes input signals from a gamer’s location to a data centre (often far away) that is equipped with high-speed CPUs and GPUs.
The new state of the game is then calculated and sent back to the gamer's device.
The majority of the processing happens at a remote location, which means a lot of the energy use does too. Data centres depend on air cooling and ventilation as well as extensive hardware all of which are energy intensive.
Cloud gaming may appear to the eye to be more eco-friendly because their is less hardware on the user end. However, the opposite is true and it consumes more energy than local gaming.
Microsoft, which runs its own Azure data centres, is starting to push for renewable energy to be used in the centres. However, there has been slow progress because many of the users of these data centres – such as game developers – do not have a financial incentive to make the change to renewable.
Although, the above statistics show gamers' attitudes toward sustainable gaming are changing. The industry may find that the incentive comes soon, as loyal gamers switch their loyalty to more sustainable developers and those still using unsustainable data centres find they lose their audience and gameplay drops.
In January 2022, Microsoft announced a plan to buy the videogame company, Activision Blizzard. The acquisition is set to be finalised soon and will give the company control of major gaming franchises from all kinds of genres such as Call of Duty, Candy Crush, and World of Warcraft.
This will make Microsoft one of the biggest gaming companies around and it will join names such as Sony and Nintendo to be an international leader in gaming.
All three of these companies are now working on reducing CO2 emissions.
The gaming heavyweights are leading the way and smaller developers will find they have to follow along, the forward-thinking ones will already have a strategy in place.
Each of these gaming leaders has big plans to become greener :
Players are becoming more educated about environmental and sustainable issues in gaming and it is impacting their consumer choices. It may not be an impact that is greatly felt right now, but leaders in the game development world are already preparing for this impact to increase, and smaller developers need to follow suit. As consumers get more hyped about environmentalism they will start to spend their money with sustainable gaming companies. Sustainability efforts can take time to implement so your strategy needs to start making the transition today.
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