With the coronavirus situation worsening and increasing numbers of people opting to stay at home, online gaming is likely to experience a huge surge in popularity - and judging by Xbox Live's problems yesterday, it's already happening.
Around 8pm UK time last night users started to report problems accessing Xbox Live services, meaning they could no longer access the online features in their games, or in some cases were unable to sign in. According to reports aggregated by Downdetector, this peaked at about 9pm UK and affected players across the globe.
At this point, the Xbox Support account tweeted to confirm it was investigating the issues, but it wasn't until 23:20 UK time that the account tweeted again to confirm the problems had been resolved.
Players should once again be able to sign in and access Xbox Live services normally! Thank you for your patience and as always, we're listening. https://t.co/fD18Mjpx6W— Xbox Support (@XboxSupport) March 15, 2020
Head of Xbox Phil Spencer explained that Xbox had seen an increase in usage "on almost everything", commending the work of the IT teams in managing to keep the services running. He also added that it was "heartening to hear from so many people using gaming as a way to stay connected during these times".
Yea, usage is up on almost everything. Thanks go out to all the Ops/IT teams at all the companies that are working hard to keep everything running smoothly with all going on around them.— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) March 15, 2020
It's unlikely this will be the only outage we experience as demand rapidly increases for online gaming: in Italy, the school shutdown has caused a significant surge in internet traffic, with kids turning to games such as Fortnite and Call of Duty for their entertainment. One Italian internet provider reported an increase in traffic of over 70 per cent, with online gaming providing "a big contribution" (via Bloomberg). CS:GO has continued to break records over the weekend, hitting 1m concurrent players thanks to a combination of rising popularity in China and increased numbers of people staying home. Personally, I can't wait to get snuggled up with Animal Crossing: New Horizons later this week - and at least that doesn't rely on steady internet.