Some of the biggest names in the video game industry, with a combined audience of 970 million players, have committed to harness the power of their platforms to take action against climate change under the banner of the Playing for the Planet Alliance. Combined, these commitments from 21 companies are expected to result in a 30 million tonne reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030, will see millions of trees planted as well as new “green nudges” in game design and improvements to energy management, packaging and device recycling.

These voluntary commitments were announced at UN Headquarters on the side-lines of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit. CEOs from 14 platforms and games makers were present to showcase their commitments. The Alliance intends to support companies in sharing learning and monitoring progress on the environmental agenda.

Members of the Playing for the Planet Alliance include Creative Mobile, E-Line Media, Google Stadia, Green Man Gaming, iDreamSky, Internet of Elephants, Microsoft, Niantic Inc, Pixelberry, Reliance Games, Rovio, Space Ape, Sports Interactive, Supercell, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Strange Loop, Sybo, Twitch, Ubisoft, WildWorks and Playmob.

“The video games industry has the ability to engage, inspire and captivate the imaginations of billions of people across the world. This makes them a hugely important partner in addressing the climate emergency,” said Inger Andersen, executive director, UN Environment Program (UNEP). “We are encouraged by the commitment of these gaming companies, which shows recognition that we all must play our role in the global effort to lower carbon emissions and effect real change towards sustainability.”

Play For the PlanetThese commitments were facilitated by UNEP with the support of Playmob following a study by GRID-Arendal, which outlines how the video games industry, which reaches 2.6 billion people globally, can support action on the environmental agenda.

“Today at the UN Climate Summit, I am honored and feel privileged to join leaders in the gaming industry to make commitments to contribute to the efforts of the UN,” said Jim Ryan, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE). “At PlayStation, we believe games have the power to ignite social change through educating people, evoking emotions, and inspiring hope. We could not be prouder to be part of the Playing for the Planet Alliance and we look forward to seeing what the industry can achieve together.”
Ryan outlined some of the steps that SIE has taken to reduce the power consumption of its wildly popular PS4 gaming system by utilizing efficient technologies such as a System-on-a-Chip architecture, integrating a high-performance graphics processor, shrinking the size of their chips and power scaling, as well as energy saving modes such as Suspend-to-RAM.

“For context, we estimate the carbon emissions we have avoided to date already amount to almost 16 million metric tons, increasing to 29 million metric tons over the course of the next 10 years, which equals the CO2 emissions for the nation of Denmark in 2017,” said Ryan.

He revealed that the next generation PlayStation console will allow users to suspend gameplay with much lower power consumption than PS4. “If just one million users enable this feature, it would save equivalent to the average electricity use of 1,000 U.S. homes.”

“Climate change is impacting each industry and every sector, and we believe technology can play a critical role in enabling and empowering the response to this challenge,” said Phil Spencer, executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft. “Initiatives like our Minecraft Build a Better World Campaign and CarbonNeutral Xbox pilot provide a great opportunity to tap into Microsoft’s technology sustainability and gaming community to make a difference in this key area of our business.”

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  1. Proof that an industry can take charge and make a change without being legislated to do so. Although it’s not much, but it’s something, and that in itself is significant.

    It would , however be nice if when discussing energy saved, an actual quantity was used – in this case, kilowatts. US households is far from a standard quantity of anything.