COVID-19 has changed the way the world works. With the change in business, companies are changing their strategies to combat the pandemic. People don’t want to be outside as much, and it’s important to keep people from going outside to do their usual favorite activities.
I had the chance to sit down with Christian Massa, an entrepreneur who believes it’s his duty to keep people indoors. Christian created Square Darr, an addictive smartphone game that’s designed to keep people engaged even when they can’t go outside.
Creating Time Sinks for People
Video games are one of the most consistent sources of entertainment for people stuck at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It doesn’t even have to be a AAA title; a smartphone game may be enough.
Square Darr is an addictive smartphone game, and plenty of people are working on getting a top score in it because of the pandemic. “When I first released the app back in 2014, I wanted to test the market and see what the age demographics would be,” says Massa. “I wanted to gauge how old the players were and how long they were staying active on the app. I was quick to learn that the majority of the players were teens and young adults in the age range from 14-30.”
This is one of the most active demographics for gamers, as Statista points out. The bulk of the gamers measured in their survey are between 18 and 35 years, and though the measurement doesn’t exactly measure up to Square Darr’s numbers, it’s approximately correct.
Massa released Square Darr several years before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He’d spent some time creating an app similar to Flappy Bird, something that would challenge people and keep them occupied. But after a year in the App Store, he pulled Square Darr to concentrate on a film project with his brother, Joe Massa.
When COVID-19 broke out, Massa decided to re-release the app to give people something to do while they were stuck in their homes.
Video games are one of the most popular ways for people to spend their time during the pandemic. Steam logged its highest number of concurrent users during the pandemic. Twitch saw a 50 percent increase over March in viewers. Microsoft saw a 130 percent increase in engagement. Nintendo Switch sales were up 24 percent year over year.
Games are clearly one of the biggest winners from the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s easy to see why. Video games are conducive to isolation. They help people stay involved socially while still not involving too much of a commitment. They’re a great way to keep the mind engaged. And Square Darr is part of that.
“After I heard about all the people who were still partying, traveling and not following the CDC guidelines, it made me feel the necessity to take action,” said Massa. “I remember thinking to myself that all these younger people are going to get the virus and bring it back to their loved ones, and this made me want to help out in any way I could. I figured, what better way to get people to stay inside than make a super addicting and challenging game that you can win money playing every day?”
Massa hasn’t just re-uploaded his app, either — he’s been hosting contests on his Instagram almost weekly. His Instagram stories have updates on upcoming challenges. He then sends winners who successfully complete each challenge a cash prize via Venmo or Cash App.
Staying at Home
Stay at home orders are in place in some parts of the United States and abroad still, and they’re unlikely to completely go out of fashion. With the rise in COVID cases in some parts of the United States, staying at home is still a good option for a lot of people. That opens the door for video game and streaming video providers that want to capitalize. There’s been a significant increase in video games, but there’s been a big increase in streaming video too.
Even board games and puzzles are selling well. Cooperative board games like Pandemic are seeing a spike in demand, and families are spending more time together and less time out and about. Good companies in the entertainment space will capitalize on this.
Companies have a chance to make a difference through COVID right now. But making a difference isn’t just limited to illness. Entrepreneurs can make a difference in other ways too. Massa has put his time into that too. He and his brother created a short film centered around suicide in 2016. “The film was dedicated to all those who are suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts,” Christian said.
There are plenty of other entrepreneurs who feel like making a difference in the world too. Look at Brad Ludden’s First Descents, which offers free outdoor adventures to young people suffering from cancer. Or Stacey Boyd, who founded Schoola, which is designed to provide clothes for less well off students.
Entrepreneurs are particularly well placed to fight against societal ills like COVID-19, especially those who run small companies like Massa, Ludden, or Boyd. “We want to make the world a better place,” says Christian Massa. “Business has no value unless the world is better after you leave it than it was when you came in. You have to care about the world or there’s no point in having money at all.”
Plenty of entrepreneurs care about the world, and Massa is only one of them. It’s important to give them the support they need. And with the right support, they really can make the world a better place.
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