Games industry unites to launch COVID-19 awareness campaign, #PlayApartTogether

The game industry has united to launch #PlayApartTogether, a new campaign designed to “disseminate key messages from the World Health Organization to help slow the spread of COVID-19”.

The initiative – which has been drafted in conjunction with 18 game industry leaders from across the industry including Activision Blizzard, Amazon Appstore, Big Fish Games, DirtyBit, Glu Mobile, Jam City, Kabam, Maysalward, Playtika, Pocket Gems, Riot Games, SciPlay, Snap Games, Twitch, Unity, Wooga, YouTube Gaming, and Zynga – encourages gamers to follow the WHO’s guidelines of “physical distancing, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and other powerful preventive actions people can take to fight COVID-19”.

“Our mission at Zynga has always been to connect the world through games, and it has taken on a new dimension as we face this global crisis,” said Zynga’s president of publishing,  Bernard Kim. “We are honoured to support the important work of the World Health Organization and provide our players with a support system during this period of physical distancing. The #PlayApartTogether initiative activates positivity and community that can help us commit to the urgent task at hand.”

“It’s never been more critical to ensure people stay safely connected to one another,” added Activision Blizzard CEO, Bobby Kotick. “Games are the perfect platform because they connect people through the lens of joy, purpose and meaning. We are proud to participate in such a worthwhile and necessary initiative.”

The #PlayApartTogether campaign will include “events, activities, rewards, and inspiration” to some of the biggest games in the world, reminding players that “wherever you are, whatever game you play, you can make a difference”.

“Physical distancing shouldn’t mean social isolation!” said Riot Games CEO, Nicolo Laurent. “Let’s stay physically apart – and take other public health steps such as hand hygiene – to help flatten the curve and #PlayApartTogether to help power through this crisis. For Rioters, playing games is more than just a game; it’s a meaningful life pursuit. And now, for the billions of players around the world, playing games could help the pursuit of saving lives. Let’s beat this COVID-19 boss battle together.”

The coronavirus is affecting games all over the world and in a myriad of ways. In response to the pandemic, E3 2020 has been cancelled, as has EGX Rezzed, GDC, and both Mojang and Electronic Arts have cancelled scheduled live events. While other events, such as Develop:Brighton 2020, have been postponed to later in the year.

Gamescom, however, still opens to proceed as planned. BAFTA has confirmed it’s revising the format on its upcoming Games Awards in light of the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), too.

Bungie, EA, Nintendo and now Rockstar have all implemented homeworking to minimise staff exposure to the virus whilst Pokémon Go developer Niantic has made changes to the game to enable players to continue participating even whilst in self-isolation. The increase in people working from home and/or self-isolating, however, has put a strain on online services like Xbox Live and Nintendo Switch Online

A number of publishers have teamed up to create GDC Relief Fund to assist indie devs who may have lost money on paying in advance for the now-cancelled GDC.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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