It’s been a tough few weeks for China, and as well as the personal tragedy brought about by Coronavirus, there are plenty of businesses that are also feeling the pinch. Yet even in the darkest of times, there have proved to be some who have seen an upsurge over the past weeks. 

Hubei province, at the epicenter of the outbreak, is on lockdown, but every major population center has seen fewer people on the streets and more choosing to remain confined to their homes during Lunar New Year. If this had happened 20 years ago, there would have been nothing for it but to hunker down in front of the TV or get started on a good book. However, in the internet age, there is always the alternative of going into cyberspace to pass the time, and the Chinese have been doing so in their millions. 

What else is there to do?

The words of one social media poster based in Shanghai summed up the situation. He remarked that he had clocked ten hours of screen times the previous day, and said: “What do you all suggest I do other than look at my cellphone?”

Part of the reason for gaming’s surge in popularity over recent years is that it provides a far more immersive and interactive experience than watching a movie or reading a book. It also offers something for everyone. So while some might choose to explore different online casino bonuses, like at those found at sites like  and try their luck at the slots or roulette wheel, others take the opportunity to join the burgeoning masses of mobile eSport players. In fact, Honor of Kings generated an incredible two billion yuan in purchases on the first day of the holiday.

Of course, there are plenty of other game genres to choose from. But these are two examples in which those confined to their homes can still enjoy social interaction and some friendly but competitive gameplay in the virtual world. 

Gaming stocks on the rise

Most of the financial headlines relating China have made grim reading so far this year, but the gaming sector has been a notable exception. In fact, five Chinese game developers on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges saw increases of the maximum permitted 10 percent in a single day. 

In a bizarre and somewhat tasteless twist, the strategy game Plague Inc also saw an exponential surge in popularity. 78,000 people downloaded the game, which involves creating a pathogen to infect the world, up from 16,000 the previous month. 

Inspiring other sectors

Other businesses have been quick to take note of what’s happening in the gaming sector, and of those words uttered on social media by the gamer in Shanghai. Carmakers have been leading the way, with both Tesla and Mercedes upping the ante when it comes to online activity and social media engagement. Mercedes, in particular, has been pushing the notion of giving would-be buyers a close look at its new models using virtual reality. After all, as the man said, what else is there to do?

Make no mistake, the coronavirus is a disaster and a tragedy for China and the wider world. But as is so often the case, difficult times are also giving innovators a chance to shine.