Video game industry pledges to reduce environmental impact
Video games are huge business, and as such the industry leaves a huge environmental impact on the planet. As part of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York this week, a group of games companies including Microsoft and Sony has banded together with the UN Environment committee to work towards reducing the industry’s footprint.
Known as the Playing for the Planet Alliance, the 21 games companies include the major platform holders like Microsoft, Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), and Google Stadia, large publishers like Ubisoft, streaming platform Twitch, mobile studios like Rovio (Angry Birds) and Niantic Inc (Pokémon Go), and a host of others like Creative Mobile, E-Line Media, Green Man Gaming, iDreamSky, Internet of Elephants, Pixelberry, Reliance Games, Space Ape, Sports Interactive, Supercell, Strange Loop, Sybo, WildWorks and Playmob.
The ways these companies are pitching in varies, including reducing and offsetting carbon emissions, switching to more sustainable materials and processes, raising awareness of issues through the games themselves, and programs like planting trees. According to UN Environment, these efforts will reduce CO2 emissions by 30 million tonnes by 2030, add millions of new trees, and educate millions of gamers.
With the PlayStation 5 on the horizon, SIE says it plans to make the new console run more efficiently. When suspended in rest mode, the PS5 will be designed to consume much less power – the company estimates about 0.5 W, a huge drop from the 8.5 W currently chewed up by a PS4 on standby. SIE will also conduct an assessment of its operations' carbon footprint to find ways to improve.
Microsoft says that its business operations have been carbon neutral since 2012, and now it plans to extend that to its products. The first step will be a pilot program that will make 825,000 Xbox One consoles carbon neutral. The company has also set the target of cutting carbon emissions in its supply chain by 30 percent by 2030.
Ubisoft plans to source materials from more environmentally-responsible factories, and Sega’s Sports Interactive last week announced that it will be moving to fully recyclable cardboard cases for its games. Other companies in the Playing for the Planet Alliance will offset the carbon emissions of their studios and even their players, and will incorporate more environmental themes into games themselves.
As important as it is for individual people to do their part to help the environment, large companies still account for the vast majority of carbon emissions and other environmental impacts. So it’s encouraging to see this kind of action taking place at the corporate level.