In a World Let Loose, Video Game Makers Are ‘Doubling Down’

At the height of the pandemic, people stuck indoors passed the time by playing tons of video games.

Now as countries slowly reopen, that behavior is set to change. And video game makers have warned that as people head outdoors again, their sales will plunge and spending on games may dip for the first time in at least a decade.

But the companies aren’t cutting back in anticipation. Far from it.

Consider Riot Games, which produces League of Legends. “We’re doubling down,” said Nicolo Laurent, the company’s chief executive. “We’re hiring like crazy.”

Then there’s Microsoft’s Xbox. “Our investment in gaming has never been larger than it is now,” said Phil Spencer, who heads the business.

Video game companies are among the pandemic winners that are declaring they still plan to go full steam ahead, even as the coronavirus lockdowns that powered their businesses over the past 15 months have largely been lifted. Other tech companies that flourished while catering to a remote society — including Zoom and Peloton — have also said they expect to continue spending, expand operations and hire.

But John Paul Rollert, a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, said plowing ahead in the face of shifting behavior was a high-risk and high-reward approach.

“You’re playing some really high-stakes poker,” Mr. Rollert said. Still, he added, with the economy rebounding and money sloshing around, “you can understand why these companies might think to themselves, ‘Covid has been good to us, but maybe post-Covid will be great to us.’”

Yet game makers said they were not worried, especially after such a tremendous spurt of pandemic growth.

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