The UN’s ‘Playing for the Planet’ initiative reached 110m players in 2020 – time to join for 2021!

Playing for the Planet, the UN environment programme, has reported on its first year in an impact report. This showed that they had collectively reached 110m people through ‘green’ activations in games, committed to reduce their carbon footprint, and bolstered their numbers to a total of 29 companies.

The initiative set out with 19 companies at the start of the year, including UK firms such as Green Man Gaming, Space Ape and Sports Interactive, as well the likes of Rovio, Sony, Stadia, Microsoft, Supercell and Niantic. 

Activations through play included a wide range of initiatives. 

  • Rovio reached 4.1 million players through restoration and sustainability themed in-game events in Angry Birds 2. 
  • Wildworks: launched restoration & renewable energy features in-game engaging over 6.6 million players and drove reforestation with over 16k trees planted in Zambia.
  • Internet of Elephants launched “Run Wild 2020” to engage urban runners with animals in the wild.
  • Pixelberry launched an interactive book to get players to get more involved with environmental activism in their game Choices.
  • Green Man Gaming will run a major tree planting programme.
  • Playmob reached more than 10 million people who took action to vote on climate action. 
  • Through the Jam, Creative Mobile raised funds for Wolf Conservation Trust and Reliance ran multiple awareness messages across their games.

While others concentrated on reducing their carbon footprint and those of their consumers.

  • Sony was able to create energy efficiencies that meant PS5 uses less energy in certain modes than PS4 did at launch in addition to a range of other commitments.
  • Microsoft will deliver on the company-wide goal of being carbon neutral by 2030.
  • Supercell: became carbon neutral, offset 200% of their direct carbon footprint and 100% of carbon emissions generated by players; 
  • Niantic are developing plans for net zero in 2021.
  • Space Ape: Not only did Space Ape co-ran the Green Game Jam 2020, they also offset 200% of their studio’s carbon footprint, as well as the footprint generated by playing their games. 
  • Sports Interactive: reduced twenty-five tonnes of CO2 equivalent alongside 13 tonnes of plastic with new packaging for Football Manager 2020. 
  • Sybo: co-ran the Green Game Jam 2020 and offset more than double their office carbon footprint. 
  • Strangeloop: will go carbon neutral by 2022. 
  • Ubisoft: will accelerate their progress toward net zero. 

Other initiatives included Google Stadia, who is producing a sustainable game development guide and working on a study on the science of inspiring behavioural change through video games. 

Sam Barratt, chief of Youth, Education and Advocacy at UNEP and co-founder of the Alliance said: “This industry has the potential to reach one in three people on the planet and will be a critical partner if we are to win the greatest multiplayer challenge of our time: climate change. We’re delighted to see the progress the Alliance has made so far and know that this is just scratching the surface of what’s possible.” 

The priorities for the alliance in 2021 will continue to focus upon integrating authentic green activations in games and to support companies efforts to decarbonise, as well as work around the restoration and conservation of forests. 

Why not get involved? Either to start a new initiative, or to add your already existing company initiatives to the global effort. For further information on the Playing for the Planet Alliance, contact: Keishamaza Rukikaire, Head of News & Media, UNEP,

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