Covid’s impact on the gaming and video market

Lurkit Team
February 4, 2021

As we all know, the Covid-19 pandemic has had, and continues to, have a huge impact on all of our lives. From individuals to small businesses and giant organizations, everyone has been affected in some way, and for most businesses especially, this has been an adverse impact. 

However, one industry, in particular, has flourished despite Covid, and maybe even because of it, gaming and video content. Of course, this doesn’t mean everything has worked out for every business and individual involved in it, but as a whole, the market has seen a massive increase in 2020. 

Let’s take a look at exactly what happened, how the pandemic has affected the gaming and video market, as well as some detailed numbers behind it. 

gaming breaker

How has Covid-19 affected the gaming and video market?

Unlike the majority of the world, Covid has actually had a somewhat positive impact on the gaming and video content market. That is to say, there has been a massive growth in both users and viewership across the biggest platforms, most notably Steam and Twitch. 

Both platforms have seen a massive increase in users in 2020 compared to 2019, and this growth is almost unprecedented considering the numbers in previous years. Let’s take a quick look at these numbers:


  • Reached a peak concurrent users of 24.8 Million in 2020, compared to 17.8 Million in 2019 (a 7 Million increase). 
  • Recorded average peak concurrent users of 21.5 Million in 2020, compared to 16.3 Million in 2019 (a 5.2 Million increase).


  • Reached a peak concurrent viewers of 6.5 Million in 2020, compared to 3.6 Million in 2019 (a 2.9 Million increase).
  • Recorded average peak concurrent viewers of 2.4 Million in 2020, compared to 1.2 Million in 2019 (a 1.2 Million increase)
  • Recorded total hours watched of 20 Billion in 2020, compared to vs 10.5 Billion in 2019 (a 9.5 Billion increase). 
  • Recorded a peak of over 233,000 concurrent active channels in 2020, compared to 126,000 in 2019 (an increase of over 107,000). 

As you can see, there were a whole lot of increases. Steam saw a peak of over 7 Million more active users - meaning at its peak, there were over 7 more million gamers playing on Steam at one time than last year, with an overall total of 24.8 Million. 

Similarly, the overall average also increased heavily, meaning on average Steam saw peaks of 21.5 Million users throughout the year, which is 5.2 Million more than last year. What this tells us is that essentially every month in 2020 saw a lot more users online and playing games on steam than in 2019. 

Overall, millions more people were playing games throughout 2020 compared to 2019, very likely due to the coronavirus pandemic, although, we’ll break this down below. Even though we are looking at just one platform, it is a huge indication of unparalleled growth in 2020. For reference, 2019 and 2018 saw essentially the same number of users on Steam, with an increase of around a million or so. 

steam numbers

It’s more of the same when it comes to video content and in our example Twitch, which comes in with even bigger increases in 2020, almost doubling their 2019 numbers. 

Twitch’s absolute concurrent peak of viewers skyrocketed to 6.5 Million in 2020, meaning at its peak the platform saw almost 3 Million more users than in it’s 2019 peak. Meanwhile, the average peak of concurrent viewers every month doubled in 2020, from 1.2 Million to 2.4 Million, essentially meaning each month in 2020 saw close to or double the peak viewership than in 2019. 

However, the biggest sign of their massively increased audience is no doubt the total hours watched, which reached an amazing 20 Billion in 2020, almost doubling 2019’s total of 10.5 Billion. This means users consumed 20 Billion hours of Twitch content in 2020 - a mindblowing figure.

It wasn’t all just viewers however, as we can also see that Twitch had a huge increase in streamers as well, topping out at 233,000 channels broadcasting at one time. Again, it’s a huge increase over 2019, where the peak was 126,000. 

All this means there was a large increase in the user base of the gaming and video content market, with both Steam and Twitch showing record-breaking numbers. Despite looking at just two platforms, these numbers are a very good indication of the overall trend, as they represent the largest market share in their overall sectors. Now, let’s take a look at why this happened. 

twitch name logo

Why did the gaming and video market grow during Covid-19?

It’s a well-known fact that the gaming and video content market has been steadily growing over the last few years and going into the year it was predicted to have another successful year. However, with a global pandemic just about every market prediction was shaken up and the end results of every sector were shrouded in mystery. 

However, gaming and video content came out on top despite the pandemic and it’s even fair to say it was due to the pandemic. While there are, of course, many factors that play into the success and failure of every market, there’s no doubt that Covid-19 had a positive impact on gaming and video content, at least when it comes to overall growth. 

With countries entering lockdown, sports, festivals, shopping centers, bars, and more being closed or canceled, most people had to find different forms of entertainment, all while being stuck at home. 

This is where gaming and video content came in. It’s very easy for anyone with access to the internet to tune into a Twitch stream, watch a YouTube video, or download and play a game. As such, the effect of lockdown and anti-covid measures definitely drove the masses towards gaming and video content. 

esports cancelled 2020

This is supported by both the comparisons of growth over the years, with Twitch, for example seeing some of their metrics as much as double from 2019 to 2020, while the increase from 2018 to 2019 was significantly smaller. 

We can also look at the numbers on a month to month basis, which supports the idea that Covid had a direct impact. The Steam user base and Twitch viewership both sharply rose as countries first began lockdowns in around March and April, then dropped again as things began to ease around June, July, and August. 

Then, once the second wave of Covid became a focus and countries once again instigated measures, the user base and viewership rose again, with both platforms reaching their peak numbers in December. 

Overall, despite the obvious negatives of Covid-19, there was actually some good news where the gaming and video content market is concerned, as there was a significant increase of user bases and viewership across the board. This was due to the pandemic forcing a large number of people to stay at home, indirectly driving them towards media like gaming, streaming, and video content. 

Going forward, it will be very interesting to see how the market develops and once we see the pandemic and Covid-19 decrease or be completely eliminated, just how much the numbers will change from the record-breaking 2020 figures. 

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