As the UK spends the holidays on lockdown, games prove a Christmas success.

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Around 25 million players signed up for the PC gaming platform Steam on the biggest Christmas Day ever for the video game industry.

This Christmas was the largest for the video game industry ever, as locks, technological leaps and new consoles combined to drive more industry interest than ever before. According to public figures, Steam, the PC gaming network, reported the largest Christmas Day ever, with almost 25 million users signing on to the service at 3:10 p.m. U.K. U.K. Time, more than 6 million of whom played a game actively at the same time. Sony and Microsoft, on the other hand, are famously tight-lipped about PlayStation and Xbox player numbers, respectively, but both began the holiday season with plenty of reasons to rejoice. The two companies continue to market their new consoles, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X & S, as quickly as they can, a reality that has created no small amount of tension for households hoping to obtain one of the coveted machines to leave under the tree. No plans for a replacement for its phenomenally popular Switch console have been revealed by Nintendo, happy to play by its own rules. Nor does it need to: In November, the firm, according to the NPD Group, outsold both Sony and Microsoft in the U.S. On March 20, just a few weeks after most of Europe and America put a stop to sales, the company’s life simulator, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, was released. The game, already a much-anticipated title, brought together more than 11 million people around the world who gathered with anthropomorphic animal friends and a badass Tanooki banker to trade turnips on their gentle islands. Animal Crossing is still the best-selling Switch title of all time and continues to enjoy success long after the hype dies down.

The game became a stop on the campaign trail of Joe Biden in September – the first and likely last politician to do so, as Nintendo eventually banned political participation in the game. Animal Crossing was just the first of several shared online spaces that compensated for the lack of physical opportunities in the lives of shut-ins to socialize.

With Fall Men, a cross between Fortnite and the cult TV classic Takeshi’s Castle, British developer Mediatonic landed its own breakout hit. Up to 60 colorful blobby participants – the group nicknamed “jellybeans” – compete to complete fantastic obstacle courses, with the champion eventually crowned by one of them. An immediate success was the game, which was released free of charge to subscribers of Sony’s PlayStation Plus service and is also available for the PC. “One of the creators of the game, Joe Walsh, called it “nice, wholesome British comedy on a scale that brought a lot of laughter, a lot of colour and a lot of distraction into the lives of people. “The breakthrough success of the fall, Among Us, was less wholesome.

It plays out as an online version of the party game Mafia, a tense affair of hidden identities and murders set in a space station, with one or two players secretly taking on the role of saboteur and charged with disrupting the mission without being detected.

When the U.S. was catapulted into mass recognition in October, Among Us was Congressmen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar played in a game on the video site Twitch, reaching millions of viewers. However, not every industry milestone was due to the unique features of Pandemic Gaming. Other trends really made the year exceptional.

In the second half of the last decade, Chipmaker Nvidia, once primarily known as a developer of specialized technology to improve gaming PC performance, achieved considerable commercial success by repositioning itself as an AI computing chip provider. In addition to investing some of that windfall in a takeover bid for British chip designer Arm, the company reinvested in its gaming roots The result, a line of PC graphics cards released under the GeForce brand in December, created as much excitement (and as much disagreement between supply and demand) as the release of the new consoles only a few weeks earlier. The pandemic has hindered growth, says Richard Wilson, chief executive of the Independent Game Developers’ Association (Tiga). Game production is a collaborative process and this process is eventually compromised by operating remotely.

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