Game Changers: Online Games Match Social and Streaming Media Platforms as Outlet for Friendship and Connection

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New Survey from FlowPlay Illustrates Growing Popularity of Games as a Social Activity, Reveals One-Third of Respondents Have Taken In-Game Relationships into the Real World

FlowPlay, creator of one of the most powerful connected gaming platforms, today released findings from its report, The 2020 Social Network: Online Gaming. The survey of more than 1,000 U.S.-based respondents examined the surge in game play and social media consumption amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact virtual games have on the real-world lives of many.

With millions of Americans largely spending their time at home this year, many have turned to online games and social media for much-needed connection. One quarter of respondents stated they rely on online games for social interaction, putting games at the same level as more traditional social media, like LinkedIn (27 percent), TikTok (25 percent) and streaming media (23 percent). Generation Z is the most active when it comes to gaming, with 70 percent playing more games now than they did pre-pandemic. Online games have also become more appealing to new audiences, with 20 percent of non-gamers starting to play online games during COVID-19.

“The games industry at large has experienced incredible growth this year, and at FlowPlay, we’ve seen an uptick in player numbers, longer session times and overall increased demand,” said Derrick Morton, CEO and co-founder, FlowPlay. “Games have always provided a place of connection for people who need a social outlet, and the pandemic has really brought the community aspect of games into the mainstream, across generational divides. Despite being online, games offer players a meaningful way to have fun, meet friends and socialize beyond their social media feeds. This survey reinforced much of what we already suspected: that connected games are exactly what people have needed during this challenging year.”

FlowPlay’s report, The 2020 Social Network: Online Gaming identified many player benefits that extend into the physical world, including building and strengthening new and existing relationships. One-third of respondents reported making in-game friends that became real world friends, with more than half of Generation Z turning online friends into real-world ones. Notably, it is this social connection that is most appealing to many gamers, with 36 percent of overall respondents and almost half of Generation Z and Millennials most interested in the social community aspect of online games.

The draw of connecting via online games extended into the remote workplace for some as well. One quarter of respondents identified playing online games as a way to connect with their coworkers, with almost half playing these games on a weekly basis.

“We’ve seen the first-hand impact online games can have in the lives of many: decades-long friendships born out of Vegas World parties and Casino World chats turning into real-life romances,” Morton said. “Now, social outlets like online games are needed more than ever, and I’m excited to see the impact gaming will have on building relationships in new areas, like between coworkers.”

The survey also revealed new opportunities for the games industry to explore as it works to expand social experiences, especially as many people return to isolation and lockdown restrictions. Almost 20 percent of respondents identified live video as the feature that would make them most interested in playing online games or enticed to choose a new game, while 36% of respondents would consider playing online games with their coworkers if live video was integrated.

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