Survey: Renters Spent 110 Hours Gaming During Quarantine, “Call of Duty” Tops List

Many of us strived to put the time we spent in Covid-19 quarantine to good use. But it’s no secret that we also indulged in fun indoor activities to get our minds off of all the bad news happening in the world. Among renters who had to spend most of their time inside their apartments, video games were especially popular. And, because 2020 brought us a new Doom and Animal Crossing, a Final Fantasy remaster, and a free-to-play version of everyone’s favorite online combat game, Call of Duty (sorry, Fortnite fans), we had plenty of options to entertain us. 

To find out how renters spent their free time during the quarantine, we recently asked visitors to our website about their gaming habits during the lockdown. The 4,750 adults who participated shared their favorite games, as well as how much time and money they spent on them.  Notably, people of all generations admitted to spending a lot more time playing games than prior to the pandemic. 

Renters spent a full workday playing video games each week

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Overall, survey respondents spent about 110 hours per person gaming during the quarantine or about 14 workdays’ worth of time during a two-and-a-half-month period. Essentially, they spent 60% more time gaming between mid-March through May than they did before that timeframe. Participants admitted to gaming 8.5 hours per week on average (or more than a full workday), as opposed to 5.3 hours before the pandemic. A significant number of people invested more time in gaming, with the share of people who played more than eight hours a week doubling during the quarantine (from 19% to 38% played over 8 hours/week). 

In a surprising twist, it was Gen X-ers (41 to 55 years old) who turned to gaming in droves. This generation experienced the biggest increase in time spent on gaming, 74% more, up from 4.5 to 7.9 hours weekly (see slide 2 above). The youngest age group (Gen Z’s, 18 to 25 years old) came in second, spending an average of 62% more time gaming, and the largest amount of time, 8.7 hours per week.

Candy Crush and casino-type games challenged FPS games in popularity 

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Most respondents said warfare FPS games were the types of games they played during the quarantine. Casual single-player games — long disregarded by the gaming community — followed closely, proving that they still have a strong fan base. And with casinos closed due to the pandemic, online casino games added a major boost to the popularity of single-player games.  Meanwhile, simulation games came in third, largely powered by Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which made a huge splash since its launch back in March (and also led to what will go down in history as the notorious 2020 Nintendo Switch shortage).

Who drove Candy Crush-style games to the second top spot? The over-40 crowd: Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers. Meanwhile, it was the Gen Z-ers and young Millennials (under-30) who put combat games at the top of the list (See Slide 2 above). The appeal of battle royale games like Fortnite decreased with age but less pronounced than that of FPS’s. 

Call of Duty twice as popular as any other game

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By far, the Call of Duty series secured its position as the most-played game during quarantine. In fact, the share of players who chose COD was twice as large as that of the next game, Animal Crossing, according to the survey. The universally beloved Animal Crossing series came in second, followed by Fortnite.

When broken down by age (see slide 2), Call of Duty came in first in all age categories below 40 but was dethroned by Candy Crush for Gen X, and by Solitaire among gamers older than 56. Surprisingly, Fortnite, long seen as a game for younger players, is also popular among most age groups, securing third or fourth positions in all categories under 55. Meanwhile, GTA V is still among the top five most played games among all respondents under 40, even though it launched back in 2013, proving that its pivot to an online gaming business model has been effective across generations.  

What’s more, Gen Z and younger Millennials both share a love of the critically acclaimed Animal Crossing. At the same time, the influence of sports simulation games on Millennials’ early gaming experiences is also visible, as NBA 2K20 earned third place in the 26-30 category and second place in the 30-41 age group. Finally, older gamers clearly prefer the casual mobile experience, with Candy Crush and Solitaire reigning supreme in the 40 and over age groups. Casino Games were the second favorites for both Gen X and Baby Boomers. 

April 2020 sales data from NPD confirmed the findings — the 2019 Modern Warfare remake continues to top sales charts, while Warzone (the free-to-play version) was launched earlier this year. Call of Duty, Animal Crossing, GTA V, and NBA 2K20 are among the top five best-selling games of the year so far. 

Those younger than 30 spend more money on gaming 

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Only 28% of respondents didn’t spend any money on gaming during the quarantine. The majority, 72% did spend money on this activity, mostly on video games (32%). Hardware spending registered the fewest responses.

Young Millennials (26 to 30 years old) were the most likely to spend money on gaming (81% did so, see slide 2), alongside 18-to-25-year olds. Meanwhile, respondents older than 56 were the least likely to make any gaming-related purchases (only 32% did so), in line with their preference towards free-to-play casual games.

The quarantine video game boom is also visible in sales data, as game sales increased by 73% compared to April 2019. In fact, according to NPD Group, hardware sales also went up 163%, most likely due to an overwhelming demand for Nintendo Switches and hardware upgrades driven by PC gamers.

There’s no doubt that this Spring’s quarantine gave gaming as a leisure activity a huge boost, not unlike the streaming industry. What remains to be seen is what role video games will play going forward, and if this boost is here to stay. Core social practices have been changing in the past few months, and many discovered gaming for the first time during the lockdown.


  • This analysis was compiled by RENTCafé, based on a survey conducted on between June 4 and June 9, 2020. 
  • The survey had 4,750 respondents who were asked about their gaming habits during the quarantine period, defined as mid-March-May 2020.
  • Questions about the types of games played, individual games played, and video game spending allowed for multiple answers. 
  • The most popular games/franchises ranking took into consideration only games and franchises that totaled more than ten answers.
  • Age and time averages were calculated using midpoint coding and were subject to rounding. 
  • The NPD Group provided industry sales data. April sales data was used as it best illustrates spending during the midpoint of the quarantine.
  • All third-party data and images are published with express permission. 

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About the author

Irina Lupa

Irina Lupa is a creative writer for RENTCafé, where she covers market trends and topics relevant to today’s renters. Before developing a passion for real estate, she focused on fields ranging from automotive electronics to digital business development, digging into tech news from a critical perspective. Irina holds a B.S. in Journalism and Mass Communication. You can connect with Irina via email.

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