BERKELEY, Calif. — Even before the coronavirus forced the world indoors and glued millions of people to their screens, 2020 was shaping up to be a huge year for gaming.
Microsoft is set to release a new Xbox in November, and Sony is expected to introduce the next iteration of its PlayStation this holiday season. Both are big draws for video gamers eager to fire up the newest version of Halo or Spider-Man as they wait out the pandemic.
And as the ninth generation of consoles approaches, the cancellation of in-person events has created a surge of interest in gaming and is likely to juice their sales — even as their availability is expected to be limited by supply chain problems caused by the pandemic.
Roughly every seven years, companies release a fresh series of consoles with technological improvements — in this case, the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X. Although they aren’t expected to be drastic departures from previous versions, there’s still plenty of hype for the holiday releases.
Gaming has become one of the biggest global entertainment industries, with 2.7 billion people projected to play a game this year, according to the gaming market researcher Newzoo. Growth has accelerated during the pandemic, and gamers worldwide are expected to spend nearly $160 billion this year.
“This launch is a massive moment,” said David Gibson, the chief investment officer at Astris Advisory, a financial advisory firm in Tokyo. “It is the largest and most important next-generation console launch ever.”
But Mr. Gibson said temporary factory shutdowns caused by the virus in several Asian countries, coupled