Devs put ‘stay home’ messages into games amid COVID-19 outbreak

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Stay-home-Dirt-Rally
The 'Stay Home' message inside Dirt Rally 2.0.
Photo: Codemasters

Your favorite games may soon be reminding you to stay at home and save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of developers have begun injecting the messages into popular titles across all platforms — including mobile.

You’ve probably heard the words “stay at home” hundreds of times over the past few weeks. It’s the message governments in many countries are hammering into their citizens in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Now developers are helping spread the message to those who have been too busy playing games to watch the news. You’ll see new notices in a range of big titles, including Candy Crush Saga on mobile and Sniper Elite 4 on PC.

Games remind players to stay at home

“I reached out to DCMS [the U.K.’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport] a few days ago to say is there anything we can do,” Jason Kingsley, chief executive of game development studio Rebellion told the BBC.

Rebellion publishes games like Sniper Elite 4 and Zombie Army Trilogy. It has offered up space in its titles where “Stay home. Save lives.” messages can be displayed in front of thousands of gamers before gameplay begins.

Codemasters, which is behind the popular Dirt Rally 2.0 game for consoles, is displaying the same message where gamers would usually see virtual ads. Activision is putting notices in Candy Crush and Farm Heroes Saga.

“A lot of people spend hundreds of hours in computer games,” Kingsley explained to the BBC. “And in this case, we thought we could help society by reminding people of their obligations to others.”

Stay at home. Save lives.

Dirt Rally 2.0 goes free on PlayStation this week for those who subscribe to PlayStation Plus, so it is the perfect time for Codemasters to add the message to its games. It’s likely to pick up thousands of new players in the coming days.

It’s unclear if the notices will be displayed around the world. The studios the BBC spoke to are located in the U.K., but their titles have a global reach. We’ve reached out to Codemasters, Rebellion, and Activision Blizzard for clarification.

The U.K.’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is now calling for other studios and publishers to follow suit with similar messages in other titles, Eurogamer reports.