How video game companies are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

It has been nearly a month now since the announcement of a national emergency over the outbreak of the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic, which began in China, has brought the world to a standstill as numerous countries have implemented quarantine and social distancing measures to mitigate infection. Citizens in the public and private sectors, including hardware and software companies, around the world have also stepped in to aid in the fight to bring an end to the pandemic.

Companies, E-Gamers Make Financial Donations

A number of companies have decided to raise money to donate to causes combating the virus as well as to groups directly affected by COVID-19.

Rockstar Games, for instance, recently announced that it will donate 5% from all purchases in online games to “help local communities and businesses struggling with the impacts of COVID-19.” Donations will begin on April 1 and run through the end of May.

Twitch TV raised money for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund on March 28 via Twitch Stream Aid. The 12-hour event featured artists, such as Diplo and Kaskade, and athletes such as Richard Sherman and Darius Slay, playing alongside pro gamers to raise funds for the program that supports the World Health Organization’s efforts in slowing the spread of the virus and in developing a vaccine against it.

League of Legends competitor Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok donated $25,000 to South Korea’s efforts against the virus. In a statement released in early March, Faker explained that he “felt devastated for those that are working day and night to battle the COVID-19. I really wanted to aid those battling the outbreak and felt that donating to the Community Chest of Korea was the optimal choice.”

The folks at speedrunning competition organizer Games Done Quick postponed their summer event, Summer Games Done Quick and added a new event to be held this month. The event, dubbed Corona Relief Done Quick, will donate 100 percent of all proceeds generated by the online marathon scheduled from April 17-19. Meanwhile, the original summer event will now be held in August at the same location in Bloomington, MN.

The folks at Humble Bundle are also offering a one-week, limited bundle featuring “$1,071 worth of games and ebooks for just $30.” What’s the catch? There’s none other than the fact that 100 percent of the proceeds of the sales of this bundle will go directly to different organizations responding to the pandemic. The bundle includes dozens of items including classic games, books, audiobooks, comics, and one free month of Humble Choice.

Not to be outdone, CD Projekt Red co-founder Marcin Iwinski announced on his LinkedIn his company’s $4 million dollar donation to Polish NGO Fundacja Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy. The group is at the forefront of relief efforts in the country’s fight to stem the virus.

Others Donate Supplies

Other companies have decided to make physical donations in lieu of financial ones.

Rather than donate money, the folks at Nintendo of America opted to donate supplies instead. The company donated 9,500 N95 surgical masks, one of the pieces of safety gear used by healthcare workers, to the city of North Bend, WA where the company is headquartered in.

Meanwhile, Min-Liang Tan, CEO of gaming hardware company Razer, announced via his Twitter account that his company had shifted to producing surgical masks. “We intend to donate up to 1M masks to the health authorities of different countries globally,” he explained. “For starters, we’ve been in touch with the authorities in Singapore (where the @Razer SEA HQ is based) to donate some of the initial shipments to assist their fight against COVID-19.”

Finally, German games publisher Gameforge has teamed up with community group FabLab Bruchsal to produce a line of face shields for medical use. FabLab, located in the town of Karlsruhe, is a local group of self-professed tinkerers and technology advocates who designed their own line of PPE face masks. Gameforge stepped in to provide two 3-D printers to assist in the production of the face masks. The combined effort has already resulted in the delivery of 225 face masks to local clinics and hospitals with another 500 on the way.

COVID-19 remains a threat to billions around the world but the combined efforts of millions of people in the public and private sectors along with medical professionals and NGOs will help mitigate infection, treat the infected, and, hopefully, eventually bring a vaccine to light.