So, Video Games Are Good for Your Mental Health? New Study Says “Yes”

When it comes to the mainstream media, video games don’t often receive the most positive press. Blamed for everything from isolation and depression to school shootings, games are still very much misunderstood as an entertainment medium.

It often seems like anything that reinforces that narrative gets amplified while everything else good about it gets drowned out.

Like how Games Done Quick has raised millions of dollars for charity or how vibrant some local gaming communities can be.

So when something good comes along about video games and, more importantly, the actual act of playing them, we’re here for it.

And it looks like research is starting to point in the direction of gaming being a good thing for your mental health, the New York Post reports.

A recent study done by none other than Oxford University in the United Kingdom shows that video games could actually be quite beneficial for your mental health as a gamer.

The Oxford Internet Institute worked with large video game publishers like EA to get data on things such as play length and a gamer’s relative enjoyment of that title. Unlike previous surveys that had relied upon gamer-reported data for time spent playing, this study uses precise measurements provided by the game makers in cooperation with the OII. 2,756 players of Animal Crossing: New Horizons were surveyed along with 518 Plants vs. Zombies players across the English-speaking world including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Animal Crossing, in particular, had a curious moment at the beginning of the year. The latest installment for the Nintendo Switch was embraced like few other titles in the series. It also happened to drop right around the beginning of many global lockdowns for what that is worth.

What they found is that simply playing games had a positive impact on the person’s mental health with the time element being of negligible contribution to the overall impact of the gaming (that is people did not report playing longer and being happier doing so in any significant number).

The Oxford Internet Institute’s director Andrew Przybylski told the New York Post, “Our findings show video games aren’t necessarily bad for your health; there are other psychological factors which have a significant effect on a persons’ well-being. In fact, play can be an activity that relates positively to people’s mental health – and regulating video games could withhold those benefits from players.”

That’s pretty good news for the industry as a whole which has had one of its best years ever. While many industries have lagged because of the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world economy, video games have thrived as more people embrace indoor activities.

Do you think video games are good for your mental health? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments below.

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Marvel’s Avengers Sees Massive Drop in Number of Players on PC

One of the biggest gambles publishers and devs can make these days is on a game that needs to sustain a massive player base in order to make everything work right.

And it looks like Marvel’s Avengers might have a hard time maintaining momentum if recent reports on the drop in active players on the PC are anything to believe.

How bad is it? Apparently, some 98% of the PC players have ditched the game which only came out back in August.

Is this just the natural progression of things or is something else going on with this game?

Well, reviews weren’t that glowing to start. Many cited the repetitive nature of the gameplay as one of the factors that had turned them off by the end game. Although it is hard to imagine that being a bunch of superheroes could be boring, somehow the devs accomplished this feat. 

Where are people getting these numbers? None other than Steam it seems. While that might not be the most scientific analysis, some people are speculating that the numbers could be similar on consoles even though we don’t have numbers for that.

The reasons why we should take these figures with a grain of salt are numerous, least among them of which could be the vastly different audience on Steam versus consoles. Yet, doubts aside, that’s a pretty massive drop for any singular platform so it is hard to imagine that the game is somehow more compelling to users on others.

Aside from the questionable endgame gameplay, the game also seems to have turned fans off with an art style that doesn’t resemble the movies, a bizarrely dark story, and in-game bugs that continue this long after launch. In other words, it’s just your typical triple-A game mess that should have gotten cleaned up a long time ago back when people had patience.

Now they don’t. As to what effect this could have on any planned content coming for the game in the near future we don’t know because, again, this is all just a bunch of anecdotal conjecture at this point though veteran gamers know how this oft-told story ends.

Or it could just be that Marvel’s Avengers has a lot more competition out there in terms of games. The next-gen consoles have just arrived and it isn’t like we are starved for triple-A stuff. With Cyberpunk 2077 just around the corner, how much time did anyone think Marvel’s Avengers had anyway since it didn’t quite come roaring out of the gates at launch.

Have you picked up the Avengers game? What do you think of it? What are some of your issues with the game or what are some the things you enjoyed? How can they stem the tide of losses in their player base moving forward? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Microsoft Expects Xbox Series X/S Shortages to Extend to Next Year

The next generation of consoles is here but in only a few lucky hands.

And that could be the case for quite some time as Microsoft is now reporting that their latest consoles, the Series X and S, could be in short supply until at least April 2021.

Blame the weird nature of the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic or really high demand for the system, either way, it looks like things are going to be tough for Xbox diehards that weren’t lucky enough to get a console in the first wave.

Xbox’s experiences and platforms boss Liz Hamren acknowledged the gap between demand and supply, noting, “We know that not everyone was able to get an Xbox Series X|S immediately and are working tirelessly with our partners around the world to bring as many new consoles to as many of you as possible over time and encourage you to check in with your local retailers directly for more details on availability in your market.”

That doesn’t mean it will be totally impossible to get Microsoft’s newest machine. Retailers are being told to expect “sporadic” shipments of the system, Video Games Chronicle reports. Naturally, you’ve always got eBay as an option with scalpers already filling the search results with overpriced next-gen hardware. Of course, this isn’t an Xbox-exclusive phenomenon as much the same thing is happening with Sony’s newest platform.

Microsoft’s brass expects the “demand profile” for their newest systems to level out in the spring of next year.

Or, as Xbox chief financial officer Tim Stuart said at the Jefferies Interactive Entertainment conference, “I think we’ll continue to see supply shortages as we head into the post-holiday quarter, so Microsoft’s Q3, calendar Q1…And then when we get to Q4, all of our supply chain continuing to go full speed heading into kind of the pre-summer months. And that’s where I start to — I expect to see a little bit of the demand — the supply profile, meeting the demand profile. You’ll be outside of a holiday window. We’ll have supply cranking over the next, what, 4, 5, 6 months. And that’s when I expect to see really that demand profile start to be met, which will be really, really great.”

In other news, it seems like random issues are plaguing both the latest Xbox and Sony’s PS5. Outside of that, Microsoft clarified their stance with Bethesda releasing games on other platforms with a “first and best” experience being reserved for their systems – whatever that means. Reading between the lines, it doesn’t look like Microsoft is going to prevent Bethesda from releasing its games on other consoles which is a good thing for the industry overall. 

Did you pick up a new Xbox Series X or S? What do you think of the system so far? Does the prospect of a long wait make you impatient or are you cool with getting Microsoft’s latest at a later date? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Atari’s Video Game Hotels Just One Part of Larger Movement to Take Gamer Culture Mainstream

One of the themes of 2020, aside from social isolation and COVID-19, is how popular video games are.

And we’re not just talking about the actual gaming aspect of things, either.

From live streams to conventions to adaptations, gaming is growing into its own as a major media and cultural force. For some of us, this is a shift that is long overdue. Yet for the wider public, it’s like they’re discovering games for the first time.

That said, there is one brand name that is a touchstone for pretty much everyone (especially OG gamers) and that is Atari.

Atari has gone in and out of business more times than we care to count and they have had so many gaming iterations it is hard to keep up with at the end of the day. One constant that threads through all of this and that is that Atari, for a largely (marketable) cohort, means video games.

Perhaps that’s why the concept of an Atari-themed hotel chain is not that outlandish, particularly when you look at the growth of eSports, the Games Done Quick series, and Nintendo’s partnership with Universal Studios for Super Nintendo World.

With outlets opening in Phoenix, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Austin, San Francisco, and San Jose, the Atari Hotels promise to offer guests a fully immersive gaming cultural experience with entertainment venues and game-themed bars and restaurants.

GSD Group’s Napoleon Smith, III, specifically cited nostalgia as one of the many forces that Atari hopes to tap into when guests arrive. The design aesthetic touted by the group so far shows off a retro 1980s look with nods towards gaming and cyberpunk motifs.

“It’s definitely a place for gamers, but it’s also for families. We always believe that a family that plays together stays together…We really want to bring some stuff that you only see in games to life.”

To that end, Atari hotels will come equipped for gaming and even events centered around gaming. That makes perfect sense seeing as how businesses that cater to gaming as a lifestyle are expected to post record growth numbers in the years to come.

“I think we [as a society] went too far digital in our entertainment, and now people are clamoring for something tactile, something that they can touch and be a part of…We want to see how much fun we can make one place for families and people who just want to feel that kid at heart that they’ve forgotten for a while. I think it’s kind of needed, especially after what we’ve gone through this past year.”

What do you think of the rise of eSports, films and shows about games, and destination locations like Super Nintendo World and the proposed Atari hotel? Let us know your thoughts on this in the comments section below if you like.

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With the PS5 Just Around the Corner, the Last-Gen PlayStation 4 Continues to Break Sales Records

We are mere days away from the launch of the PlayStation 5 but it seems like Sony’s old system can’t help but break sales records in the meantime.

That’s because the PlayStation 4 was recently named the most profitable video game console in history according to analysts. For those of us with some knowledge of the landscape of console gaming history, that’s no small feat.

Especially when you consider the Nintendo Wii and the phenomenon that it was, not to mention Sony’s own blockbuster PlayStation 2 (a console that still holds the reigns as the best-selling console of all time on a unit basis).

Resetera’s ArmGunar made the bold claim, Games Radar reports, claiming that the system has pulled in some $11.3 billion in profit since its launch all the way back in 2013.

To put that in perspective with some of Sony’s other consoles, that it three times as much as the PlayStation 1 and four times as much as the PlayStation 2. As for why the PS4 is likely pulling in more profit than the PS2 even though it sold more units, some people point to the emergence of a then-novel technology called DVD players that Sony included with each system. For Nintendo, ArmGunar estimates that the DS handheld brought in some $11.04 billion in profit over its life while the Wii pulled in $10.56 billion. The DS’s performance is particularly impressive given it did cost remarkably less than either of those systems, not to mention the fact that everyone thought the DS a failure shortly after launch. This same analyst does not expect the PS4 to surpass the PS2 in total units sold, however, especially with the next-generation consoles right on their way.

What makes all of this even more interesting is that so many analysts were quick to proclaim the death of console gaming not too long ago yet 2020 has proven to be a banner year for nearly everyone. If anything, the various gaming platforms on offer in the market seem to have embraced the media segmentation strategy that more traditional niches live movies and television are just now discovering. Basically, there’s more than enough of a market for video games for everyone. 

In fact, Sony and the PlayStation 4 have enjoyed a particularly successful 2020 as a slew of exclusive games, most of which have already been named modern classics by many, have helped keep the PS4 machine chugging along. Couple this with the backward compatibility promised by the PS5 and the the fourth installment could enjoy quite an interesting retirement.

Do you own a PlayStation 4? What do you think of it as a system? Are you a longtime Sony fan or did the fourth installment in the house of PlayStation bring you to the fold? How do you think the PS5 stacks up against Microsoft’s new machine? Let us know your thoughts on this story in the comments section.

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Microsoft’s Latest Earnings Boom Driven in Part by Video Games

To call 2020 a strange year might be somewhat of an understatement. With COVID-19 wreaking economic chaos across much of the globe, it is hard to believe that anyone is “doing well” from a revenue standpoint right now.

But there has been one boom during the world’s collective shut-in saga, and that is the video game industry. Not only is it posting record revenues and profits but also the current growth trajectory puts it on pace to displace more traditional titans of entertainment.

The only question is whether any of this will last once people are allowed to socialize again. Analysts with some history of hitting things right on the head when it comes to predicting the often wild ride that is the video games industry say that growth will not only continue but accelerate.

Perhaps that’s why Microsoft was more than happy to take a long-term bet on gaming way back in the Gates era with its Xbox. Now they’re reaping the profits of that foresight as Redmond’s latest earnings reports not only showed a significant contribution from its other “visionary” initiatives like cloud computing but also from its Xbox gaming division.

The company just reported $37.2 billion in revenue, beating Wall Street expectations of $35.8 billion, with video games surging forward to help bring home the bacon.

Microsoft’s director of investor relations Kyle Vikstrom told CNN Business, “Gaming is one of the largest and fastest-growing forms of entertainment in the world. We expect there to be more than $200 billion of revenue in this industry in 2021…We’re seeing a really great early response to the console that’s going to launch next quarter.”

Aside from the Xbox, Microsoft also owns Minecraft and recently acquired Bethesda, maker of The Elder Scrolls and Fallout along with id Software’s DOOM series. Interestingly, Bill Gates wanted to acquire DOOM’s makers back in the early days of PC gaming because it, at one point, was more widespread than the Windows operating system itself. It looks like the company has finally fulfilled that wish.

Moving on to the next generation with Sony, Microsoft is putting forth two visions for the future of gaming, the “budget” Xbox Series S and the high-end Xbox Series X. There are also rumors that the company is putting out feelers to Japanese publishing houses in the hope of acquiring them and adding to the growing stable of developers and IP that Redmond is amassing. Perhaps noting that Sony’s strategy of high-quality, triple-A exclusives helped secure it the lead in the last generation, Microsoft’s strategy makes sense if the company sees gaming as a major contributor to the bottom line going forward.

What do you think of Microsoft’s next-gen plans? Are you planning on picking up one of the company’s systems? How do they stack up against Sony’s PS5? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below if you like.

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