Since COVID-19 has us sequestered in our homes for the foreseeable future, people have been picking up new activities and ways to pass the time. Folks of all ages and occupations are downloading TikTok ($PRIVATE:BYTEDANCE) for the first time, Twitch viewership is up as gamers stay home, and classic board games are making a comeback.

But these quar-activities aren’t without their shortcomings. It’s difficult to play a board game while maintaining six feet between your fellow players. TikTok merely broadcasts the four walls of your isolation chamber. 

The superior quarantine pastime is one that sets you free. Reader, I’m talking about The Sims ($EA). 

The Sims franchise turned 20 this past month. The fourth iteration of the life simulation video game came out back in 2014. But over the past month, the average ranking for Sims 4 among Amazon’s ($AMZN) best selling products jumped from 100 all the way up to 7. (On the above chart, a lower data point signifies a higher ranking.)

Last week, Electronic Arts took note of the trend and announced a 75% discount on Sims 4 and 50% off of expansion packs. It was also a PlayStation PS+ free game of the month, which certainly helps drive interest.

A new version of Animal Crossing, entitled New Horizons, came out last week for the Switch. It's another life simulation game, but with cute little animal characters and more socializing capabilities. You can build a home and explore the land, interact with other players, and complete tasks. The Nintendo game's average Amazon best-seller rank is now at number 2.

It’s easy to see why these games are blowing up when real life feels increasingly out of our control. With the Sims, you can build a house and venture outside of it. You can host a party or hit the gym, jump in a pool or set your kitchen on fire. Animal Crossing lets you fish and pick fruit from trees and visit your friends' islands. As of now, gameplay does not incorporate viruses or pandemics.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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