The Covid-19 pandemic has done for gaming what sunshine and beaches did for ice cream, writes Andrew King, senior product manager: visual communications at Vox.

The global video game market is expected to top more than $200-billion by 2023. And when it comes to prize money for professional esports, the total pot increased by 42% last year to reach more than $234-million across almost 4 600 tournaments.

Clearly, gaming is big business. But when it comes to the casual gamer, the latest consoles are financially beyond the reach of many. This is where the introduction of rental options in the local market is ground-breaking.

It really comes down to the numbers. At close to R12 000 for an Xbox Series X and R7 000 for an Xbox Series S, these next-generation gaming machines are not cheap. Make no mistake, these consoles provide an exceptional gaming experience, but the price of the console clearly does not include the required high-speed internet connectivity, digital content (for example, the Xbox Game Pass) and a decent screen to play on.

Most hardcore players spend upwards of R30 000 on a high-end PC gaming rig. Many have sponsors and approach esports as a serious commitment, training for countless hours.

However, the lockdown has highlighted the importance of being able to access entertainment options for people from all walks of life. Gaming today is a social experience. Far removed from the stereotypes of a reclusive teenager hiding away in his (or her) room, playing on a console is something that the entire family can enjoy while they make new online friends in the process.

Everybody plays

Accessibility, therefore, becomes critically important. At the turn of the century, the focus was on bridging the digital divide between those able to benefit from the internet and those without access. Thanks to the growth of mobile and the proliferation of fibre, this has all but been addressed. Instead, the digital divide of today centres on the gaming experience.

Today, more than ever, people want to game. It is something that appeals to both the younger generation and the young at heart. By making the likes of the next-generation Xbox consoles available for rental with a fully managed service and bundling it with fibre connectivity and digital content access, it suddenly becomes something everyone can enjoy.

Vox’s low latency network design with transit routes throughout South Africa, North America, South America, Europe and the rest of the world provide smoother play when the gaming server you have to use is not in South Africa.