Video games industry levels up in fight against climate change

Commitments have been made by a total of 21 companies in the gaming sector as part of the Playing for the Planet Alliance

Some of the biggest names in the video games industry, including PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo, have formally committed to using their platforms to take action to fight climate change.

The commitments made by a total of 21 companies in the gaming sector, which has a combined audience of around 970 million players, are expected to help reduce 30 million tonnes of carbon emissions by 2030.

The game makers, including Google Stadia, Microsoft, Rovio, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Supercell, Ubisoft and WildWorks, have pledged to plant millions of trees, in addition to implementing “green nudges” in game design and improving energy management, packaging and device recycling, as part of the Playing for the Planet Alliance.

Sony Interactive Entertainment plans to use energy efficient technology as well as introduce low power suspend mode for the next generation PlayStation while Microsoft aims to reduce its supply chain emissions by 30% by 2030 as well as certify 825,000 Xbox consoles as carbon neutral in a pilot programme.

The commitments were announced at the UN headquarters yesterday on the side lines of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York.

Jim Ryan, President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment said: “Today at the UN Climate Summit, I am honoured and feel privileged to join leaders in the gaming industry to make commitments to contribute to the efforts of the UN.

“At PlayStation, we believe games have the power to ignite social change through educating people, evoking emotions and inspiring hope. We could not be prouder to be part of the Playing for the Planet Alliance and we look forward to seeing what the industry can achieve together.”

Phil Spencer, Executive Vice President of gaming at Microsoft added: “Climate change is impacting each industry and every sector and we believe technology can play a critical role in enabling and empowering the response to this challenge.

“Initiatives like our Minecraft Build a Better World Campaign and CarbonNeutral Xbox pilot provide a great opportunity to tap into Microsoft’s technology sustainability and gaming community to make a difference in this key area of our business.”

Google Stadia, which is set to launch later in the year, said it will produce a new Sustainable Game Development Guide as well as fund research into how “green nudges” can be effectively incorporated into game play while Supercell, developer of Clash of Clans, aims to offset the entire footprint of its community.

Twitch has committed to utilising its platform to spread the message to the global gaming community and Niantic Inc, developer of Pokemon Go, has pledged to engage its community to act around sustainability issues.

Many of the companies also intend to host design-jams with their creatives to consider how they can incentivise better environmental outcomes within the games, “without limiting the fun and enjoyment of players”.

Mathias Gredal Norvig, CEO of Sybo, the organisation behind Subway Surfer, said: “Video gaming might seem like an unlikely ally in this battle but this Alliance is a critical platform where all of us can play our part to decarbonise our impact and bring the issues into gameplay.

“I am a strong believer in sparking curiosity and conversations wherever people are and with two billion people playing games, this platform has a reach that’s second to none.”

Other members of the Alliance that have made commitments include Creative Mobile, E-Line Media, Green Man Gaming, iDreamSky, Internet of Elephants, Pixelberry, Reliance Games, Space Ape, Sports Interactive, Strange Loop and Sybo.

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