Can Online Gaming Be Eco-Friendly?


A billion gamers, unimaginable ambition, a constant cascade of new worlds – the gaming world is an ecology unto itself, one of a scale we have never known. But can the players reimagine the settings they live in, too? 

One of the problems with online gaming is that it can be an energy-hungry habit, the whole package of hardware and downloads and energy consumption, and behind the screen are mountains of e-waste. But, all hope is not lost, there is a growing movement in the online games world that is pushing for a more eco-friendly future, and it’s something we’re definitely interested in here at Eco Freek.

The Growing Eco-Friendly Movement in Online Gaming

We’re all told to make eco-friendly swaps and manage our waste, but green living is not just for the house owner. Perhaps we all need to take some responsibility for reducing our carbon footprint – being more eco-minded. However, it is the large businesses that should be taking the initiative to strongly reduce their ‘non-green’ practices.

Even businesses that are typically online, like the online casino sector, are making strides in terms of becoming more eco-friendly. Some online casino companies are investing in alternative, renewable sources of energy to power their giant data centers, which require a hell-lot of electricity. Others are opting for measures to make their servers more efficient and working with carbon-offsetting organizations to procure trees to offset their carbon footprint. This means that players that’s playing slots online might be playing in an environment that generates less carbon footprint depending on the green options adopted by the online gaming company. The steps we take might be small, but if a lot of people do them while we encourage bigger industries to change, it can make a big difference.

So while it’s still important that we make eco-friendly choices at home, it’s not going to all be just down to us as individuals to make a difference.

Sustainable Studios: Building Games with a Green Thumb

The days of money-hungry developers operating behind closed doors are long gone. Increasingly more leading developers are taking up the mantle of corporate environmental stewardship and we’re beginning to see a new world of eco-design in gaming. The latest illustration of this ongoing trend came when Sony Interactive Entertainment announced a major commitment to carbon neutrality across its entire scope of integrated operations by the year 2040. This large-scale vision translates to more environmentally friendly day-to-day studio operations (for example, using only renewable energy for all operations and productions, or improving cooling systems and data centers to be more energy efficient).

Likewise, it’s small-scale studios breaking new ground through their commitment to sustainability: Massive Monster, the team behind the indie hit Cuphead (2017), distributed their game digitally only, forgoing the environmental cost of physical manufacturing and transportation. Such studios are wielding their leverage to drive innovation in green game development.

It’s not just in individual studios, though: industry leaders like Microsoft are making some equally impressive moves. Their Xbox Play Anywhere programme lets users buy a game digitally and play it on either an Xbox console or Windows PC, meaning no need to buy a game twice and cutting overall energy use. Meanwhile, the Microsoft Store now offers hardware products that use ‘sustainable packaging’, too.

These are just a handful of examples of how developers are embracing sustainability. In an ever-growing swell of momentum, we can look forward to even more creative and impactful measures being hatched. From now on, delivering gaming experiences of the highest visual and immersive fidelities no longer comes with a licence to wreak havoc on the environment.

Green Hardware Revolution: Powering Play without the Footprint

The hardware driving our games represents an important part of sustainability, too, and here progress is also encouraging. Energy-efficient hardware is the latest transformative wave in the industry, with industry-leader console manufacturers Microsoft and Sony continuously developing new models with lower power footprints. The Xbox Series S, for example, is considerably smaller and draws less power than previous generations.

The revolution has also been channeled into consoles. More energy-efficient GPUs are going into gaming PCs, meaning not only a greener planet but also a lower electricity bill for gamers. How about further research into eco-friendly hardware manufacturing materials? An environmentally friendly gaming PC of the future that reduces your carbon footprint and gives you the same wonderful gameplay experience – what’s not to like?

Gamers as Changemakers: Leveling Up Sustainability

It’s clear that the future of gaming is green, and gamers themselves are on track to be the real green heroes. Here’s how individual gamers can make sustainability solutions happen:

  1. Opt for Digital Downloads: If you can, download digital games directly, preventing the use of raw materials, manufacturing, packaging, and transportation.
  2. Power Down During Idle Moments: Make sure your console or PC powers down completely when you’re not using it – or use sleep mode, if it has one, for short breaks from gaming.
  3. Cloud Gaming for the Green Win: If you don’t mind slightly lower graphics, cloud gaming services offer the convenience of a big-data home machine without the big-data home hardware.
  4. Think Twice Before Upgrading Your Hardware: Does a new graphics card — or new console — really add utility to your gaming enjoyment, or did the last generation give you everything you need?
  5. Get on the Green Gaming Movement: Support studios that prioritize the green agenda and join their online communities to spread knowledge and encourage continuing green practices.

The Future of Sustainable Gaming

The gaming world is at a turning point. If the industry can be sustainable and scientifically advanced enough, it can continue to thrive without earthly consequences. We can have lush gaming worlds and healthy planets. If gamers, developers and hardware manufacturers work in concert, we can achieve a world where ‘game on’ means ‘game on for a sustainable future’.

We’d love to know what you think about the eco-friendly future of online gaming, is this something that you have been concerned about before? Let us know.

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