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Social Connection in a Virtual World

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October 04, 2021


In 2020 as the world changed, so too did people’s entertainment habits. 

With daily routines and habits disrupted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a shift not only in people’s behaviors around entertainment consumption but the emotional need states that it fulfilled. 

For many individuals, gaming was a way to fulfill these emotional needs. While engagement with video games increased during 2020, gaming itself is far from a new phenomenon. For most people, this increased engagement with video games signified a return to gaming, or an opportunity to reconnect with a pastime they had previously enjoyed but lacked the time to spend with it. 

This report explores the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on entertainment consumption, including engagement with gaming. This research aims to better understand what these behaviors and emotional connections will mean long-term for audiences and brands alike, providing insight into entertainment and gaming usage in a post-pandemic world. 


Please note reports are currently available in English only.

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Following a 10-month COVID-19 tracker by Omnicom MediaGroup (OMG) Primary Research, Activision Blizzard Media and OMG partnered with MFour Mobile Research to conduct a four-part diary study in the United States among Adults 18+, November - December 2020.

The diary study (n=407) was conducted for seven days alongside a pre & post-survey measuring the following: the typical week of a multi-media consumer; the adoption and revisitation of multi-media platforms due to the pandemic; the role of media in consumers’ lives during COVID and motivations behind digital entertainment choices; how platforms like gaming (playing and watching) served as a safe place for brands and consumers alike, and opportunities for interactive platforms in the future.

This research concluded with virtual focus groups (n=15).

Social Connection in a Virtual World

"More Time for More Media

As individuals spent greater periods of time at home during 2020, their media consumption also increased.

With activities outside of the home restricted and commute times reduced or eliminated, people found themselves with additional time throughout the day and more opportunities to engage with digital entertainment. 91% of those surveyed reported greater usage across at least one digital entertainment media. While overall media consumption fluctuated slightly each month as localities toggled between opening and closing, the increase in digital usage was significant. For many, this digital entertainment helped fill the gap created by the difficulties in resuming previous work and leisure activities that were previously part of their day-to-day routine.

With most of the interaction with these different media types taking place in a solo environment, individuals were looking to engage with a form of digital media that could provide them with a sense of social connectivity, such as gaming.

The top forms of media consumed in a typical week included video streaming (93%), social (93%), music (75%) and video games (67%)."

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