Retro gaming has made a lockdown comeback with millions of Brits Googling old-school video games to play at home, according to new data collected by Uswitch.com, the comparison and switching service.
Uswitch’s Isolation (Play) Station study analysed gaming Google search trends in the UK during lockdown to determine the most searched for video games.
Table 1: Lockdown Google Search Increase for The Sims in Europe
|Country||Average monthly searches |
(Apr ‘19 – Mar ‘20
|Total searches Feb 2020||Total searches Mar 2020||Total increase in searches (Feb – Mar 2020)||Total % increase in searches |
(Feb – Mar 2020)
Once the best selling PC game series of all time, The Sims has seen a resurgence of search traffic. The UK’s Sims search volume increased 186% (376,200) from 202,800 searches in February to 579,000 searches in March. Compared to the other five European countries analysed, the UK recorded the greatest increase in actual searches. Spain recorded the greatest proportional increase (245%), whilst Italy recorded the lowest percentage increase of 81%.
Table 2: Lockdown Google Search Increase for Classic Build Simulation Games in UK
|Game||Average monthly searches |
(Apr ‘19 – Mar ‘20
|Total searches Feb 2020||Total searches Mar 2020||Total increase |
(Feb to Mar 2020)
|Total % increase in searches |
(Feb – March 2020)
|Theme Park World||2,400||1,900||4,400||2,500||132%|
Released in 1997, 90s legendary hospital simulation game, Theme Hospital typically saw a monthly UK search volume of 6,600. However, as COVID-19 hit the headlines in February searches for Theme Hospital almost doubled. In March, searches increased another 83% to 22,200, 235% more than the typical monthly average. Similar nostalgic build simulation games Zoo Tycoon, Rollercoaster Tycoon and Theme Park World all saw a significant increase in searches in March compared to February.
Chart 1: Lockdown Google Search Increase for Game Consoles in UK
Consoles also saw a significant increase in searches, with 4,463,530 (151% increase) search terms recorded during March relating to Nintendo Switch, Playstation and Xbox.
The Nintendo Switch saw the greatest increase with search traffic trebling (207% increase), while PlayStation saw searches almost double in March.
Xbox recorded the lowest increase in search volume compared to competitors, however, it experienced similar traffic levels recorded during the 2019 Black Friday and Christmas period sales.
Due to increase in demand, consumers have experienced Nintendo Switch shortages across the UK, with the console sold out at most retailers, including Amazon and Game. Sony is said to still be on track to release PlayStation 5 late 2020, however there may be fewer units available.
Chart 2: Lockdown Google Search Increase for Online Board Games in UK
Searches for online board games also saw an increase in volume in the UK, with ‘online board games’ being Googled an extra 19,800 times compared to previous months. The term ‘online board games with friends’ saw searches increase by 14,171%.
Nick Baker, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, says: “It’s hardly surprising that people are looking for games to play at home during lockdown. However, what is surprising is that people aren’t searching for new games to play, instead they are seeking entertainment and solace in nostalgia.
“We all remember spending hours playing retro 90s and 00s classics, like The Sims and Theme Hospital, in our childhood bedrooms. Before lockdown, the average casual gamer spent 6 hours per week gaming. Now that many of us have more time than ever to spend at home, we can once again get lost in our favourite virtual gaming worlds of the past.
“With all this extra gaming, it is important to have a good broadband connection at home. A good place to start is by checking your broadband speed and comparing it to what you should be getting.”
You can see the full report here.
Find out your home broadband speed and the fastest service available in your area here.
- Retro gaming has made a lockdown comeback with millions of Brits Googling old-school video game
- Searches for The Sims nearly tripled in March, increasing by 186%
- 90s classic Theme Hospital saw a 236% increase with legendary build simulation games Zoo Tycoon, Rollercoaster Tycoon and Theme Park World recording a combined increase of 358%
- More than 2.5 million searches were recorded for terms related to Nintendo Switch, Playstation and Xbox
- Xbox recorded the same traffic levels experienced during 2019 Black Friday and Christmas sales
- PlayStation saw searches almost double whilst Nintendo Switch was the most searched lockdown console (207% increase)
- Searches for ‘Online board games with friends’ increased 14,171%.
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