A number of notable gaming companies have united for You Are Not Alone, a new online event hoping to unite 10 million isolated gamers as the world tries to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a 12-hour livestream (to be streamed on Facebook Gaming and Twitch) commencing at 12pm noon (UK time) on May 2nd, 2020, gaming companies will “provide their games, brands, and support through large scale tournaments and play sessions from Rainbow Six Siege through to Football Manager and UNO, meaning players at any level can take part” as the event looks to promote social distancing and raise funds for COVID-19 relief efforts.
“Video games have played an important role in society over the last few weeks, giving people an activity and a way to communicate during self isolation which has caused a massive disruption to normality,” states a press release. “YANA was created in response to the feeling of isolation. Video games publishers recently came together to create the messaging platform #PlayApartTogether which encourages people to follow the World Health Organization’s health and safety guidelines for COVID-19. YANA proudly supports this initiative and wants to help drive the message further with a one-off event that will bring core and casual gamers together.”
Partners include Barclays, Codemasters, Sports Interactive, and Ubisoft, and the event will “host sports games, casual games and competitive titles to ensure gamers of all levels can get involved with the day”. Barclays will host a FIFA 20 tournament, whilst Ubisoft will “offer activities around several of their key franchises”.
“We are all experiencing an event that we would never have expected to face; it is something that is impacting everyone in many different ways,” said Rob Cooper, managing director Northern Europe, Middle East and export for Ubisoft. “Ubisoft is proud to support the initiative “You Are Not Alone” and hope that our community of fans will do so as well and connect at yana.gg.”
“YANA was created to form communities around gaming. It’s a #friendraiser, to let people know, You Are Not Alone!” added Adam Whyte, founder of YANA and co-founder of Edge Esports. “Isolation doesn’t need to be isolating! Video games have the power to unite people like no other platform. Our aim is to bring people together, gamers and non-gamers on May 2nd. It doesn’t matter what you play – board game, card game, or in a competitive tournament – everyone is welcome. This will be a mass participation event for people of all levels and types. Play with or against your family, friends, co-workers, teammates, and maybe celebrities. It’s important that people feel connected right now, through YANA, we’re hoping to achieve this. Let’s play together and stay apart!”
The coronavirus is affecting the games industry all over the world and in a myriad of ways. In response to the pandemic, E3 2020 has been cancelled as has GDC and EGX Rezzed – although it subsequently ran as a digital event – and Develop:Brighton 2020 has been postponed to November. Both Mojang and Electronic Arts have cancelled scheduled live events.
Gamescom, however, still opens to proceed as planned.
Studios like Bungie, EA, and Rockstar have 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. Sony says it will do “all we can” to support the individuals on the frontlines of battling COVID-19, and EA has pledged up to $2 million in order to support global Coronavirus relief efforts.
UK industry trade bodies Ukie and TIGA have also produced guidance to support employers and their staff during the pandemic.