23rd March seems such a long time ago. 20% of the world’s population was under strict lockdown, and suddenly it was enforced in my home nation too. Some countries were told 3 weeks, others feared 3 months, while the US president suggested 15 days might be sufficient before opening society back up. Well, here we are 7 months on, and many nations are bracing themselves for a long winter of public health, social and economic struggle.
So, what have we learned in our industry over these past 7 months that might help us to deal with the next 7? Here are a few personal thoughts.
We are lucky
No PPE at work, no risky commute, no super-spreading shared workspaces, no daily face-to-face interaction with the public to do business. Largely, we’ve escaped first-hand exposure to COVID-19. If you wanted to work from a home office and reduce your external face-to-face interactions to virtually nil, in most cases you could. Thankfully, mass redundancies don’t appear to be on the horizon – or indeed already a reality as they are in many sectors – as the video games industry has thrived under the current global context. We must count our blessings that this global pandemic hasn’t destroyed the livelihoods of colleagues and friends in our industry.
The pace is relentless, keep up!
The market appears to be buoyant everywhere. The EU, Eastern Europe, Russia, North America, South America, and Asia have all grown as PC digital games markets for our network over the past 7 months. Our industry quickly and brilliantly pivoted to working remotely in a matter of days. This changed the way we all started to connect and do business. No more trade shows and client meetings to close deals or open new ones. Conversely, as commuter time and office meetings disappeared, availability seemed to increase. 1-2-1 virtual meetings were more prevalent than before and proving every bit as effective as being together.
We are looking backwards to go forwards
As we quickly adjusted to a new model of working in digital commercial teams, we have seen a renewed focus on product lifecycle management, with unprecedented levels of success in back-catalogue promotions for PC digital games. Clearly, not every new release planned for the PC digital market in 2020 was able to stick to their original timescales. So, the market collectively adjusted, which is perhaps its most remarkable ability – to make a greater success of what content was already out there.
We miss our teams
Yes, we can all use Zoom and Teams – and the first few minutes are no longer spent adjusting the tech – but there is no substitute for seeing and being with your teammates. We are a technology business at Genba Digital, but we are a people business first. Living out our working lives in 2D can take its toll, eventually. It’s worth noting, though, how amazing it’s been to see our teams continue to collaborate so well – particularly with the potential complexities of developing a NextGen platform.
Perhaps, for some, it is easier to cope with right now. I don’t know about you, but as a leader, I miss the face-to-face interaction and seeing the chemistry between our teams as they solve problems together. Maybe we will never return to what it was like, and maybe that’s a change for the better – presenting an opportunity to create even more flexible working arrangements.
We must not miss this opportunity to make games a greater force for good
This global pandemic has presented our industry with an opportunity to increase the positive influence of video games on players and people the world over. For many, video games remain a constant. A constant escape. A constant source of enjoyment. A constant way to connect with people in a harshly disconnected world. Let’s work together to make employees, friends, players and their networks feel safe in our world.
Matt Murphy is CEO of Genba Digital and Trustee of Safe In Our World.