What are you doing? Playing games?

According to a recent survey by Rentcafe, people are spending more of their time sheltering at home playing video games during the COVID-19 pandemic. And it was Gen X-ers (41 to 55 years old) who turned to gaming the most.

Jon Peddie

We have reported on the influence on the gaming market from the shelter at home mandates due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to our data, we looked at several other reports for correlation and found a lot.

According to a recent survey by Rentcafe, people are spending more of their time sheltering at home playing video games during the COVID-19 pandemic. And it was Gen X-ers (41 to 55 years old) who turned to gaming the most.

Weekly time spent playing games by age. (Source: Rentcafe)


Across all age groups, the average increase in video game playing was 53% or 2.7 hours a week.

Avg. before 5.1
Avg. during 7.8
Percent change 53%


As far as demographics go, Rentcafe asked about age. They had 11,575 renters who visited their website and engaged with the survey, out of which 4,751 said they played video games during the lockdown period and proceeded to answer our other questions. 4,117 respondents answered the question about age and their distribution is as follows:

Distribution by age of respondent. (Source: Rentcafe)


Rentcafe did not ask about gender, income, education, occupation, or any other usual demographic indicators, all the other questions pertained to gaming habits and spending. All of the respondents were from the US.

The respondents spent the most time playing first-person shooter games.

 Time spent on type of game. (Source: Rentcafe)


Simulation Games included Animal Crossing, The Sims, and casual Single Player Games included Candy Crush, Coin Master.

However, the gamers, of all ages, didn’t play just one type of game as the following table indicates. And there was a definite preference for game type by age group.

  18-25 26-30 31-40 41-55 56+
FPS 19% 20% 16% 12% 7%
Casual single player 9% 10% 19% 31% 46%
Simulation 16% 13% 11% 10% 12%
Role-playing 13% 15% 14% 12% 8%
Battle royale 12% 9% 9% 6% 4%
Sports 8% 12% 11% 9% 7%
Casual multi-player 8% 8% 9% 9% 6%
Multiplayer on-line battle arena 8% 7% 5% 4% 6%
Massively multi-player on-line playing 7% 5% 5% 8% 5%
Type of game played during COVID-19 by age group (Source: Rentcafe)


Most respondents said warfare FPS games were the types of games they played during the quarantine. Casual single-player games—long dismissed by the hardcore gaming community— followed closely, proving that they still have a strong fan base. And with casinos closed due to the pandemic, online casino games added a major boost to the popularity of single-player games. Meanwhile, simulation games came in third, largely powered by Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which made a huge splash since its launch back in March (and also led to what will go down in history as the notorious 2020 Nintendo Switch shortage as gamers stuck at home bought out supplies of the Switch).

 Top 10 most popular games played during COVID-19 shutdown. (Source: Rentcafe)


Who drove Candy Crush-style games to the second top spot? The over-40 crowd: Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers. Meanwhile, it was the Gen Z-ers and young Millennials (under-30) who put combat games at the top of the list. The appeal of battle royal games like Fortnite decreased with age but less pronounced than that of FPS’s.

18-25 26-30 31-40 41-55 56+
Call of Duty Call of Duty Call of Duty Candy Crush Solitaire
Animal Crossing Animal Crossing NBA 2K20 Casino games Casino games
Fortnite NBA 2K20 Fortnite Call of Duty Crossword
Grand Theft Auto Fortnite Grand Theft Auto Fortnite Candy Crush
The Sims Grand Theft Auto Madden NFL 20 Crossword Mahjong
Top five most popular games by age. (Source: Rentcafe)


Only 28% of respondents didn’t spend any money on gaming during the quarantine. The majority, 72% did spend money on this activity, mostly on video games (32%). Hardware spending registered the fewest responses.

What gamers spent money on during COVID-19. (Source: Rentcafe)


Young Millennials (26 to 30 years old) were the most likely to spend money on gaming (81% did so), alongside 18-to-25-year olds. Meanwhile, respondents older than 56 were the least likely to make any gaming-related purchases (only 32% did so), in line with their preference towards free-to-play casual games.

There’s no doubt that this Spring’s quarantine gave gaming as a leisure activity a huge boost, not unlike the streaming industry. What remains to be seen is what role video games will play going forward, and if this boost is here to stay. Core social practices have been changing in the past few months, and many discovered gaming for the first time during the lockdown.

An unreferenced Statisa offered a chart that shows the US as spending more time playing games during the COVID-19 than other countries.

Time spent playing game by country. (Source: Statista)


According to Verizon, U.S. video game usage during peak hours has gone up 75% since the quarantine first went into effect last week. Meanwhile, video streaming has also been increased by 12%. Overall web traffic is up nearly 20%, but social media usage was flat.

According to a new report from StreamElements and, which monitors usage in the live-streaming industry, global viewership has increased over the past week on multiple platforms. “Comparing the most recent weekend and Monday to the same timeframe the previous week, Twitch viewership increased 10% and YouTube Gaming went up by 15%, both of which reflect the popularity of the livestreaming medium now that people are consuming higher volumes of entertainment from home,” said StreamElements CEO Doron Nir.

In April, Microsoft disclosed that the number of subscribers to its Game Pass service (think Netflix-for-gaming) cracked 10 million. Among those subscribers, Microsoft reported a 130% increase in multiplayer engagement across March and April. In May, Nintendo announced sales of its Switch console were up 24% year-over-year, while its new game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, had sold 13.5 million copies since its release in late March.

And as we reported recently, the global PC gaming hardware market is forecasted to surge by $3.6 billion in 2020 due to COVID-19, sales will increase 10.3% sequentially from last year.

The market is booming globally due to shelter in place orders as gamers upgrade and buy new PCs and accessories. Perhaps more importantly, the current situation has actually created millions of new PC gamers looking for immersive, exciting, and economically efficient forms of home entertainment.

The PC Gaming Hardware market is in a rare scenario where every segment is going up. We see a lot of people buying and upgrading personal and company subsidized computers with better parts, with the intention of playing video games. In the Entry-Level, much of this revenue comes from new gamers.

The 2020 Entry-Level category is forecasted to grow 21.7% which is unprecedented and totally unexpected. The Mid-Range has bounced back from a slide, now in positive territory. At the High-End, 1440p+ display sales (spurred by more affordable offerings) created a chain reaction of upgrades as gamers configure rigs for 60+ frames per second.

Due to TV broadcasting of sim racing events, we are observing an uptick in racing simulation builds. These include a high-performance computer often with premium audio, racing wheel/shifter/pedals, sometimes a racing seat, and other elements. Many of the sim racers are new to the market but have money and spend $2,000–$5,000 on systems, audio, and accessories.

Distribution of global market value by PC gaming segment


COVID-19 has created a big spike in sales for PC gaming products in the near term. The total market is approaching $40 billion in 2020. However, we temper our forecasts for possible economic issues in 2021 and beyond. Forecasts are heavily dependent on consumer confidence. Nevertheless, we still predict growth over five years even in the face of a console cycle.

The question being asked by the suppliers to the gaming industry is if this increase in game-playing and buying is a spike or a real market expansion? We think it is a genuine market expansion but that the peak will fall a bit as people start going out more.