Unprecedented numbers of players are spending their time on China’s online gaming platforms. The reason – the coronavirus, which is keeping people indoors – is obvious enough. But the sudden spike in demand is putting pressure on servers. Blizzard’s blockbuster shoot-em up Overwatch briefly went down, much to player frustration, while Tencent’s smartphone format Game for Peace, a rebranded version of PUBG Mobile, also experienced interruptions last month, with customers complaining that they couldn’t log on. Other popular games like Tencent’s Honor of Kings and NetEase’s Onmyji have encountered similar stresses, sending their providers scrambling to shore up their networks.
Honor of Kings has been reporting as many as 150 million daily average users since the authorities imposed fuller quarantine measures in response to the virus crisis. Game for Peace has also set new records with daily average users surpassing 100 million.
“In the month of January, the first and second highest grossing mobile games in the world were both Tencent products, having generated total revenue of $327 million. There is no doubt that Tencent is the biggest winner during this outbreak,” reckoned Yuleguan001, an entertainment blog.
Tech news platform Abacus reported last month that Plague, a older British game, had become one of the most-downloaded formats because of its depiction of a deadly virus infecting people across the globe. Other game developers saw a big spike in more standard traffic, with local brokerage Minsheng Securities reporting that leading mahjong and poker titles were seeing double the player activity compared with a month ago.
Meanwhile ‘cloud clubbing’ has become a popular trend for people fed up with missing out on their nightlife. Worried about catching Covid-19, partygoers are choosing to go clubbing ‘in the cloud’ instead. Taxx, one of Shanghai’s hottest night spots, raked in Rmb700,000 ($99,548) via a livestream production featuring a top DJ and elaborate lighting effects, and One Third, another hip nightclub in Beijing, made Rmb3.2 million over three nights livestreaming its own club nights on Douyin.
Douyin’s main rival Kuaishou is now said to be striking similar deals with nightspots across the country to livestream their own shows.
Veteran party goers are unimpressed, saying the ‘cloud clubbing’ trend is not going to last.
“In actual venues, the lights, music and energy is impossible to translate across a computer screen or headphones. It is very hard for audiences to feel high and excited just by sitting in front of a screen. In reality, cloud partying is more like background music,” the tech portal 36Kr concluded.
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