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When Gaming Companies are the Winners of Lockdowns

Currently the analysts are wary of amping up estimates for U.S. gaming companies set to report this week due to the economic uncertainty ahead, even as Electronic Arts Inc and Activision Blizzard Inc look among the most obvious stock market winners due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Thanks to the ongoing six weeks of lockdowns across the world, people have seen a surge of 62 percent in the volume of gaming and 35 percent jump in Hardware and Software sales, adding up to a tough March and pointing to healthier returns as the lockdowns stretch into May.
Globally the total amount of playtime has hit a peak of more than 90 million hours during the last ten days of March. Also, Netflix has broken all the customer addition projections, when it reported results in last month, thanks to the higher number of quarantine audience.
“Eventually the quarantines will end and engagement will taper off to some extent, but if these companies can convert a percentage of these new players to regular players this will be a very nice boost for the ecosystem,” said Jeff Cohen from brokerage Stephens.
However, Activision is likely to be the big gainer, having launched Call of Duty: Warzone on 10th of March, just when the lockdowns were beginning to spread across Europe. Till date the game has garnered as much as 50 million players, also the company is expected to report a 5% rise in revenue to $1.32 billion for the first quarter.
Also, Activision’s biggest rival EA, which is the home for FIFA, Battlefield and other games is expected to report the revenue of $1.19 billion for the fourth quarter, which is higher than its own forecast of $1.15 billion.
“Whatever the positive impact has been over the last month, there is very little certainty around the sustainability of any benefit,” Cowen analysts said in a note to clients.
“Management teams are likely to have a very cautious view on the potential impact of a recession on demand.”