Nearly 620 million players spent over US$37 billion on mobile and PC games in 2018, making China the world’s largest gaming market. Credit: SupChina.com.

Surging e-commerce sales of Sony PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch has been linked to the nationwide spread of the novel coronavirus, as many residents are seeking an alternative entertainment while staying safe at home, Yicai Global reported.

Tencent’s mobile game Honor of Kings turned over about 2 billion yuan (US$287 million) on Jan. 24, Chinese New Year’s Eve, marking a staggering 50% annual gain, according to Sinolink Securities, the report said.

Game for Peace, the Chinese mobile version of battle royale PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, made an all-time record of between 200 million yuan and 500 million yuan the same day, Sinolink said, adding that it had up to 100 million daily active players during the holiday, crashing its servers and making it one of Weibo’s most searched topics, the report said.

The epidemic has been a boost but marketing has also played a role in the surge, industry observer Ma Jing said.

Very few people have been traveling during the holiday because of the outbreak, so they are killing time by playing games at home, he added.

One gaming firm that may not fare so well from the epidemic is Nintendo, which has several production lines in China so will be struggling to produce its Switch console locally, the report added.

According to a Beijing News report, a Taobao seller has witnessed the increased sales of consoles and games when the outbreak began, and has greatly benefited from the surge.

But experts were quick to urge citizens not to turn to drinking or gaming too much to pass the time at home, Japan Times reported, as they urged moderation.

Chen Xuefeng of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said this week: “When avoiding going outside these days, people can relieve stress by exercising indoors, singing and so on.”

“Drinking and gaming for long hours is not good for stress and could bring about worse emotional pressure,” she said.

According to online website SupChina, nearly 620 million players spent over US$37 billion on mobile and PC games in 2018, making China the world’s largest gaming market.

To put that in perspective, the number of Chinese people who played video games last year was almost twice the size of the U.S. population.

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