The UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit is underway in New York City, and the video game industry is jumping in on the action. Game makers and CEOs from 14 platforms attended the summit under the banner of the Playing for the Planet Alliance, a group that helps companies be more environmentally friendly. Sony Interactive Entertainment, Microsoft, Google Stadia, Rovio, Supercell Sybo, Ubisoft, and WildWorks were all present and ready to hatch a plan to combat the climate crisis. 

Twenty-one companies in total committed to a 30 million ton reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2030; planting millions of trees; designing games in a more environmentally friendly way; and improving energy management, packaging, and device recycling.

The commitments include:

  • Sony Interactive Entertainment will unveil new progress and plans to utilize energy-efficient technology (on track to avoid 29 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2030), introduce low power suspend mode for next-generation PlayStation, assess and report their carbon footprint, and educate the gaming community to take action on climate change;
  • Microsoft will announce the expansion of its existing operational commitment to carbon neutrality, established in 2012, into its devices and gaming work. It will set a new target to reduce its supply chain emissions by 30% by 2030 — including end-of-life for devices — and to certify 825,000 Xbox consoles as carbon neutral in a pilot program. Microsoft will engage gamers in sustainability efforts in real life through the Minecraft “Build a Better World” initiative, which has launched more than 20 million in-game actions already;
  • Google Stadia, which is set to launch later in the year, will produce a new Sustainable Game Development Guide and fund research into how “green nudges” can be effectively incorporated into game play;
  • Supercell (Clash of Clans) will offset the entire footprint of its community, Rovio (Angry Birds) has offset the carbon impact from its players charging their devices, and Sybo (Subway Surfer) and Space Ape (Fastlane) will offset 200% of their studio’s and gamers’ mobile energy use. Guidance documents will assist other companies to take similar actions;
  • Wild Works (Animal Jam) will integrate restoration elements in games and, like Green Man Gaming, will focus on restoring some of the world’s forests with major tree-planting initiatives;
  • Ubisoft will develop in-game green themes and source materials from eco-friendly factories;
  • Sports Interactive will eliminate 20 tons of packaging by switching from plastic to a recycled alternative for all future Football Manager releases;
  • Creative Mobile’s ZooCraft will evolve into a conservation-focused game with Reliance Games (Little Singham), generating awareness in the mobile gaming market by creating awareness with kids with in-game events and initiatives across India;
  • The biggest independent gaming platform in China, iDreamSky, committed to putting green nudges into its games;
  • E-Line Media (Never Alone, Beyond Blue), Strange Loop (Eco) and Internet of Elephants (Safari Central) will share their expertise of making high-impact, environmentally oriented games into the Alliance; and
  • Twitch committed to spreading the message to the global gaming community with Niantic Inc. (Pokémon Go) and engaging its community to act around sustainability issues.

Head to playing4theplanet.org to watch a film showcasing the commitments of the industry, which will also air at the UN Climate Action Summit.

Photo: Playing for the Planet