Games industry rallies in fight against COVID-19
Update: EVE Online players have raised $135,000 for COVID-19 relief since April
Original story, March 25, 2020: Game companies from around the world are rallying to offer support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which has resulted in over 19,000 deaths and led to mass global disruption.
"Games have an important role in raising awareness of the challenges the world is currently facing," said Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
"Only through a concerted, global response -- with the private sector working together with Governments and philanthropies, pooling resources and expertise -- can we hope to stop such emerging epidemic threats."
GamesIndustry.biz is compiling all of the industry's relief efforts; below is an alphabetised list that will be regularly updated.
The Halo developer has been raising money for COVID-19 response funds with sales of the Relief and Recovery REQ DLC pack for Halo 5: Guardians. It has also created a new Spartan-themed T-shirt to raise additional funds.
Community manager Brian Jarrard announced via Twitter the DLC has already raised more than $200,000.
The Call of Duty publisher has made an additional $2 million donation to its Call of Duty Endowment, which helps fund groups providing veterans with support as they re-enter the job market.
Bethesda Softworks, Zenimax Media, and Bethesda as a whole are donating a total of $1 million to multiple COVID-19 relief charities.
These charities include Direct Relief, UNICEF, and efforts local to the individuals Bethesda studios and offices, with the money split between them.
Read the full story here.
The Destiny developer raised more than $350,000 during the first 24 hours of its Guardian's Heart fundraiser, which invites players to donate $20 or more to receive a special in-game emblem.
The initiative ultimately raised over $780,000, beating its target of $700,000. All proceeds will go to the charity Direct Relief and help to buy supplies for frontline healthcare workers.
CCP Games is helping raise money for COVID-19 relief efforts through its Plex For Good campaign in Eve Online.
First introduced in 2005 to provide support to people affected by the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, Plex for Good has raised around $700,000 in the 15 years since.
Players can help by contributing Plex, the in-game currency for Eve Online, which CCP will then donate the real-world monetary value to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
"It is time to unite once more and help fight this unprecedented worldwide health challenge," said CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson.
"The money raised through this Plex For Good campaign will help the World Health Organization to coordinate the global effort, support countries to prevent, detect, and respond to the pandemic."
EVE players have raised over $135,000 for COVID-19 relief since April 3 this year.
The Cyberpunk 2077 developer has organized a donation of 4 million PLN ($950,000) to non-profit organization Fundacja Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy to fight the spread of COVID-19 in its native Poland.
Half of the money is coming from the board of directors and major shareholders, while the other half is being donated by the company itself.
The Gears of War studio has donated 200 Xbox One X consoles to the Gamers Outreach, which will distribute the hardware to children's wards in US hospitals.
Each Xbox One X is mounted to a "Go Kart" -- a wheeled base with a screen, which allows the console to be moved easily. The systems will be used in at least 200 hospitals.
Developer and publisher Crytivo has announced it will no longer be taking its cut of revenue from its Crytivo Store for the foreseeable future, in an effort to support developers struggling due to COVID-19.
Additionally, Crytivo will relinquish its cut of proceeds from its published titles on Steam and other for the same period.
Electronic Arts will match-fund up to $2 million worth of employee donations to support COVID-19 relief efforts around the world.
Meanwhile, staff have led grassroots relief efforts in Canada, Sweden, and the US by donating essential supplies and food to hospitals and support organisations.
"There has never been a more important moment for us to lend strength to our local communities," said CEO Andrew Wilson.
Read the full story here.
The social network has partnered with sports and entertainment firm IMG to host a celebrity Mario Tennis Aces tournament to raise money for charity, Deadline reports.
Entitled the 'Stay at Home Slam,' the competition will see matches between tennis stars such as Maria Sharapova, Kevin Anderson, Serena and Venus Williams, and Madison Keyes, plus other celebrities such as models Gigi Hadid and Hailey Bieber.
Participants will receive $25,000 to donate to the charity of their choice -- a total of $400,000 -- with an additional $1 million donation awarded to the winner. It will be streamed via the Facebook Gaming page and IMG's tennis Facebook page starting from Sunday, May 3 at 4pm ET/1pm PT.
Beijing-based development studio FunPlus has announced it will join the #PlayApartTogether initiative and has additionally donated $250,000 to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund supporting relief efforts.
Key reselling platform G2A has donated 42,000 HKD ($5,400) to Give2Asia through its COVID-19 Hong Kong fund, which supports local charities including health centers and food banks.
Additionally, G2A donated over €5,000 worth of protective masks to the Dutch Red Cross to support the fight against COVID, and assisted hospitals in Poland in acquiring two cardiac monitors and other medical equipment.
Finally, G2A established DzialajmyRazem.pl, a free platform for local institutions to request aid and connect with companies that are offering financial or resource-based assistance.
For the record: A previous version of the G2A segment incorrectly stated G2A donated $17 million to Give2Asia, when that figure actually represented the total amount raised by Give2Asia from numerous sources.
Additionally, it stated that G2A donated over 5,000 protective masks to the Dutch Red Cross and protective equipment to hospitals in Poland, which G2A announced on its website. We were informed following this update that this was slightly inaccurate, and have revised the information above with the correct donations.
The digital conference's three-day GDC Relief Fundraiser has concluded, and when combined with the totals from the sale of the GDC Relief Bundle, raised over $81,000 for game developers affected by the cancelation of GDC due to COVID-19.
Games Done Quick
Games Done Quick has concluded a special weekend digital speedrunning marathon charity event, in which it raised over $400,000 for Direct Relief.
100% of the proceeds will be donated, providing personal protective equipment and other medical necessities to health workers responding to COVID-19.
Gfinity has been appointed to operate the ePremier League Invitational tournament, which will help to raise funds for the NHS.
The tournament will be contested by Premier League footballer players, including Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold, Manchester City's Raheem Sterling and Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha. It is part of the #PlayersTogether initiative, organised by the UK football league's stars to raise money for the NHS.
Gfinity, the UK-based esports organisation, will operate the tournament this week, with a live final to be aired on Sky Sports on Saturday April 25, 2020.
Social casino game company GSN Games has raised $217,000 for Meals on Wheels' COVID-19 Response Fund, supporting its efforts to meet a higher demand of meals and services for seniors in the US.
The money was raised entirely by the communities playing GSN Games' titles, with users making contributions through WorldWinner, Bingo Bash, Solitaire TriPeaks, GSN Casino, Grand Casino, Fresh Deck Poker, and Wheel of Fortune Slots.
Hi-Rez Studios has opted to redirect its regular catering services to local hospitals to support healthcare workers fighting COVID-19, providing over 4,800 meals so far.
Formerly, the studio hired a regular catering service to cater meals for over 400 employees on Tuesday and Thursdays most weeks.
But since nearly all staff are now working from home, the company is instead donating those meals to hospitals in the Atlanta metro area, including Wellness North Fulton Hospital, which is actively treating COVID-19 patients.
The Humble Conquer COVID-19 Bundle has raised over $6.5 million in support of charities and organisations responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
With over 40 games, plus digital and audio books, the bundle was purchased more than 200,000 times, with 100% of the proceeds doanted to COVID-19 relief effort.
Humble Bundle marketing manager Whitney Stutes described it as a huge success, adding that the money will help in a mutlitude of ways."
"This support translates into immediate, practical help -- personal protective equipment for doctors and nurses, medications, and supplies for people with severe cases of COVID-19, and resources for those affected who are most at-risk throughout the country," said a spokesperson from nonprofit organisation Direct Relief.
"This is such a wonderful example of everyone pulling together and doing whatever we can to protect those who are most vulnerable.
I Got Games
IGG has established a $500,000 donation fund to provide necessary medical supplies to Wuhan in China.
According to a post on the Lords Mobile developer's Facebook page, the studio has already sent an initial batch of over 450,000 medical supplies (including masks and gloves) to relevant medical facilities and staff in China, with more to follow.
Additionally, IGG has made donations of medical supplies to hospitals in northern California, Barcelona, and Canada.
As reported above by PC Gamer, IGG has so far donated over 2 million units of equipment worldwide.
IMVU has raised over $100,000 in its Fashion for a Cause charity event to support COVID-19 relief efforts.
The event, which took place from April 10 through May 15, allowed users to purchase special cosmetic items in the game, with all proceeds being donated to hospitals led by the UN Foundation's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO.
Popular YouTube streamer Seán "Jacksepticeye" McLoughlin has concluded an all-day charity livestream, in which he raised over $660,000 for the WHO's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
Jackbox Games has announced an upcoming ten-episode livestreaming series featuring celebrities playing Jackbox titles from their homes to raise money for organizations fighting COVID-19.
The series, called Celebrity Jackbox: Games & Giving, kicks off tomorrow and features Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things, It), Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley, Middleditch & Schwartz), Ben Schwartz (Sonic the Hedgehog, Middleditch & Schwartz), Jillian Bell (Brittany Runs a Marathon, Workaholics), and Josh Hutcherson (Future Man, Hunger Games), who will play to raise money for Direct Relief.
In addition to audience donations, Jackbox will also donate $100,000 per episode to the designated charity.
In addition to being part of the Play Apart Together campaign, the RuneScape developer has donated at total of £204,000 to three mental health charities to support their work during the UK's isolation.
The three charities are CPSL Mind, Rise Above the Disorder and The Princes Trust. Jagex has also worked with Mind to provide mental health advice for its players.
An initial £100,000 donation was made directly by Jagex, while proceeds from an in-game event raised an additional £104,000 toward the total.
Esports betting site Luckbox has pledged support for the WeSave Charity Play DOTA 2 tournament which is raising money for both the CEPI and GlobalGiving.
Featuring 24 teams, the online tournament was organised by sports marketing agency WePlay; the event runs until Thursday, March 27 and has so far raised 90% of its $200,000 target.
Luckbox has pledged to support the effort by donating all revenue from bets placed on matches during the tournament.
Swedish mobile developer MAG Interactive will donate the global earnings from QuizDuel on April 10 to support COVID-19 relief efforts.
All revenue from the game on that day will be donated to the World Health Organisation's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
With over 100 million downloads, QuizDuel is one of the largest mobile trivia games in Europe, and is the most-played game in Germany according to market intelligence firm AppAnn Annie.
Working in partnership with German health authorities on the Together Against Corona initiative, MAG has introduced a COVID-19 awareness quiz to its game to help combat the spread of the virus.
"It feels like an obvious course of action to do what we can to contribute in this difficult situation," said CEO Daniel Hasselberg.
MegaFans has partnered with the International Game Developers Association Foundation for a charity esports tournament running from May 15 through 17 for COVID-19 relief.
The tournament, which will be planned in mobile title Candy Boo, will see 80% of all in-app purchases during the event go directly to the IGDAF community fund to support independent game developers that have been affected by the pandemic.
Players will also have the opportunity to make direct donations, 100% of which will go to the relief fund.
The event aims to raise at least $10,000 over three days, with prizes set aside to donate to the fund in the winner's names, and MegaFans pledging to match 10% of total donations to the IGDAF either directly, or via sponsors.
My.Games will donate advertising space in its mobile games to European mental health charities as a part of the UK's Mental Health Awareness Week from May 18 through 24.
Up to 50% of the advertising space in its games will be available to charities.
"Last week, we published a survey that revealed that 32% of our players were struggling with self-isolation," said CEO Vasily Maguryan.
"We needed to act. Although we may be seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, with lockdowns lifting in some countries, the ongoing impact of COVID-19 is difficult to know."
Russian mobile developer MyTona partnered with ride sharing firm inDriver to donate $500,000 to hospitals in the city of Yakutsk.
The announcement was posted on MyTona's Facebook page (translated via Google Translate), and clarified the money would be used to purchase ventilators and other essential equipment.
Plague Inc. developer Ndemic Creations has donated $250,000 to the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organisation's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
"Eight years ago, I never imagined the real world would come to resemble a game of Plague Inc. or that so many players would be using Plague Inc. to help them get through an actual pandemic," said game creator James Vaughan.
"We are proud to be able to help support the vital work of the WHO and CEPI as they work towards finding a vaccine for COVID-19."
The French mobile publisher Oh Bibi has donated €10,000 to the International Red Cross for COVID-19 relief.
The money was raised through a "Stay at Home Challenge" event in its game, Frag Pro Shooter. Limited edition skins were sold to players across a two week period, reaching a total of €10,000.
The Talking Tom developer has donated €120,000 to organisations local to its studios to support their efforts fighting against COVID-19. Donations have gone to struggling hospitals in Slovenia and a Barcelona charity that aids underprivileged families, among others.
A #StayHealthy campaign is also running within flagship titles Talking Tom and Talking Angela to encourage users to wash their hands, observe social distancing, and stay at home as much as possible.
The publisher has announced it will donate sales proceeds from select games to the WHO and United Nations Foundation.
Proceeds from the sales of more than ten games and their various editions between today and Friday, April 3 at 6pm BST will be donated to the charities to help with efforts fighting COVID-19.
The games include Cities: Skylines, Hearts of Iron IV, Pillars of Eternity, Shadowrun Returns and Surviving Mars, and can all be found at a special fundraiser page on Steam.
On April 21, the publisher revealed via Twitter its sale had raised over $500,000.
Perfect World Entertainment
Perfect World Entertainment and Cryptic Studios are selling unique in-game cosmetic rewards in both Neverwinter and Star Trek Online, with all proceeds going to the players' choice of either the Pop Culture Hero Coalition, or United Way Bay Area.
The campaign has run since May 12, and in the first week alone the campaigns raised over $110,000.
Mobile developer Playrix will pay out $1.35 million to support its staff during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, the Homescapes developer announced it would pay $650 each to its 2,100 employees.
"We hope this money will help relieve some of the stress everyone is now coping with and help us take better care of ourselves and our closest ones," said Playrix.
"We're all struggling to adapt to a new life under lockdown: schools have shifted to distance learning, most offline services are unavailable, and it's getting harder for people to stay in isolation. On top of that, those dearest to us may need moral and financial support like never before."
Additionally, Playrix has allocated $1.3 million to purchase medical equipment, disinfectants, and protective materials to hospitals in Russia and Ukraine.
Sony has announced a $10 million fund to support indie developers under financial strain during the COVID-19 outbreak.
It has also started a Play At Home initiative to encourage PlayStation owners to observe social distancing rules, giving away free digital copies of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and Journey.
You can find more information in our full story here.
Sony Corp. has also established a $100 million fund for COVID-19 relief across three distinct areas: charities and organisations fighting the virus; educators whose plans have been disrupted; and creatives in the entertainment industries whose livelihoods are under threat.
Israeli mobile developer Playtika has partnered with Feeding America to provide meals to vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through its Bingo Blitz game, players will be able to turn virtual meals into real ones for the hunger-relief charity.
For each virtual meal prepared in-game between April 22 and April 25, Playtika will donate ten meals to Feeding America.
"It is a privilege to be partnering with Feeding America and to be supporting their crucial work," said Bingo Blitz general manager Dudu Dahan.
"For the first time ever, it is now possible for players to genuinely help people just by playing a game with their friends."
The company has pledged to donate 20% of all revenue made from games in its Nintendo Switch portfolio over the next three months, as well as 100% of sales from Robonauts and Geki Yabi Runner, to COVID-19 relief organizations.
In addition, the studio is donating over $75,000 worth of surgical masks to hospitals across Poland.
The Spanish publisher Raiser Games will donate 50% of all income from three DLC packs for 34 Big Things' Goat of Duty to the World Health Organisation's #COVID19Fund.
The three DLC packs are available now, priced at between £1.69 and £2.69. This follows a two-week period in which Goat of Duty was available for free, significantly boosting the number of players who can potentially purchase the DLC.
The company and its co-founders are donating $1.5 million to support COVID-19 relief efforts in Los Angeles, California.
Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill have donated $500,000 each, while another $500,000 has come directly from the League of Legends developer itself.
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti made the announcement in a press conference this week, which originally stated the figure at $1 million.
However, Riot Games corrected the figure to $1.5 million in a statement to The Wrap -- $400,000 will go to the Los Angeles Food Bank, while another $200,000 will go towards the Mayor's Fund, and the remaining money will be donated to local nonprofit organisations.
Riot Games is also helping to source personal protective gear such as facemasks for frontline workers.
In an update on June 23, Riot said it had allocated more than $4.5 million for COVID-19 support as of mid-May. It will supplement this with a four-week charity fundraiser in League of Legends, with 100% of proceeds going to the Riot Games Social Impact Fund -- you can read more about that here.
The online games platform will broadcast the One World: Together At Home concert set to take place on Saturday, April 18.
Organised by Global Citizen and the World Health Organisation, this special livestreamed concert aims to raise awareness of the work that healthcare workers, the WHO, the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and various charities are doing to support those affected by the pandemic.
The line-up, curated by Lady Gaga, features dozens of world-famous singers and actors. Throughout the eight-hour event, frontline healthcare workers and local charities will also share their stories to explain the work they're doing.
Along with streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime Video, Twitch and YouTube, Roblox will broadcast the event to its 120 million players.
Roblox has also announced a new charity initiative, in which in-game items will be sold to players to raise money for No Kid Hungry, UNICEF USA, and Code.org's COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts.
The items will be available until June 30 or until $1 million has been raised, with Roblox matching the amount paid by players. In additon, Roblox will donate up to $1 million again, based on the amount spent on the items, to the three nominated charities.
Safe in Our World
Mental health charity Safe in Our World has launched a dedicated resource hub for COVID-19.
The hub includes articles on staying active, relaxing, managing stress, working from home, government support, and other relevant topics.
Scottish developer community
Developers in Scotland have raised more than £3,000 for local NHS charities during a recent online gathering.
Based on the Games | Drink | Scotland mini-summits arranged by Indie Champions -- the publisher previously known as All 4 Games -- the last week's Interface 9 event hosted a series of short online talks about development and the local industry.
The event was free, but donations were encouraged with the promise of a raffle ticket for every pound spent. There were more than £1,000 in prizes on offer, all donated by games companies.
Mobile gaming platform Skillz has partnered with Comic Relief US to raise over $45,000 for children impacted by COVID-19.
The funds were raised via a number of in-game events and tournaments across multiple Skillz-powered games, including Cube Cube and Blackout Blitz.
Additionally, the platform has partnered with the American Red Cross and raised over $39,000 toward stocking hospitals with blood donations, and $28,000 in partnership with Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and Extra Life to support the fight against COVID-19.
A new initiative in the UK aims to get 100,000 young people making games during the lockdown measures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Side quest, which launches on May 4, will offer young people aged between 13 and 17 the chance to build a game across seven days. The scheme will include access to YoYo Games' GameMaker Studio 2, with prominent UK developers hosting each week-long "Quest" period -- Creative Assembly, Sports Interactive, and Sumo Digital are among the studios that will do so.
Side Quest is being run by gaming career service Into Games with support from UKIE, The National Videogame Museum, NextGen Skills Academy, and The Careers and Enterprise Company. You can read the full story here.
Square Enix has been offering several of its games for free on Steam since March to encourage players to stay home through lockdowns, but now it has adjusted its campaign to also benefit charity.
The company's Stay Home and Play campaign will now expand to include Steam game bundles with discounts on certain games, with all proceeds from these bundles going to food banks and other charities in both North America and Europe.
Square Enix is also donating copies of its games as a part of UKIE's initiative to give free games to healthcare workers fighting the pandemic.
Update, June 18, 2020: Square Enix today announced the Stay Home and Play campaign raised a total of $2.4 million for relief charities in North America and Europe.
Stay in the Game Relief Fund
Stay in the Game is taking donations from today, up until May 21. The goal is to raise $50,000 to be split between four non-profit organisations: Take This, Global Game Jam, the IGDA Foundation, and the Games and Online Harassment Hotline.
Whatever amount Stay in the Game raises by its May 21 deadline, it will be matched by a group of games companies: Double Fine, Riot Games, Devolver, Six To Start, and Robot Teddy.
Take-Two (incl. Rockstar Games)
Take-Two, as well as many of its publishing labels and owned studios, donated 5% of sales revenue from its online games to support the COVID-19 relief efforts throughout the months of April and May 2020.
This revenue will came from in-game purchases in GTA Online, Red Dead Online, NBA 2K20, NBA 2K19 and Dragon City, as well as full-game digital sales of The Outer Worlds.
In total, the publisher raised over $15 million to support over 180 organizations including Covenant House, Doctors Without Borders, Feeding America, International Medical Corps, Robin Hood, and Save the Children.
Additionally, on April 14, 2K and Humble Bundle launched a new charity bundle to raise money for the International Medical Corps.
2K's proceeds will all be donated to the charity. The offer included games from the BioShock, Borderlands Civilization, NBA 2K, WWE 2K and X-Com series.
The team behind PUBG Mobile has donated a total of $2 million to Direct Relief following multiple charity events connected to the game.
The $2 million stems from the game's Play As One campaign, which asked players to participate in an in-game running challenge to raise money for the charity, which benefits workers on the frontlines of COVID-19.
Thatgamecompany has raised over $1 million to support Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and OneTreePlanted in their response to COVID-19.
The funds come through a "Days of Healing" event in Sky: Children of the Light that allowed players to purchase an in-game item, with all proceeds going toward MSF.
This weekend's Twitch Stream Aid event raised $2.77 million for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO powered by the United Nations Foundation.
The total was announced via Twitter yesterday, and the streaming marketplace is continuing to encourage donations.
Ubisoft has since announced it donated $150,000 to the Stream Aid event.
Valve has teamed up with four indie developers to provide the Go Play Inside bundle, which will help raise money to protect vulnerable people in developing countries from coronavirus.
Included in the bundle is Dead Cells, Subnautica, Celeste, and The Escapists 2; the bundle is sold at a 20% discount, and will see a further 20% of the revenue donated to the COVID-19 Relief Fund of Action Against Hunger.
In the weeks since Xbox revealed that players could use their Microsoft Reward points to donate to the CDC Foundation, there have been over 100,000 individual donations.
While Xbox did not reveal the exact amount raised, it put the figure at "hundreds of thousands of dollars."
Following the scheme's early success, Xbox announced that players in the US can now use their Microsoft Rewards points to support COVID-19 relief efforts with donations to the United Nations Foundation and GlobalGiving.
Popular Mixer streamer Tyler "Ninja" Blevins this week donated $150,000 to combat the coronavirus outbreak, while Nintendo gave the City of North Bend, Washington, 9,500 respiratory masks, and peripheral manufacturer Razer donated one million surgical masks to global health authorities.