Playing for the Planet: Annual report shows games studios getting serious on climate


More than 32 games studios have joined Video Games Europe in becoming members of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) -facilitated Playing for the Planet Alliance, over one million trees have been planted and 130 million players engaged on themes relating to the environment, according to the Alliance’s just-released Annual Impact Report.

The report showcases the progress the industry has made on decarbonisation and green activations in games, and where it may go next. It is also designed as an accountability mechanism on transparency and progress; members who are not meeting their commitments are removed from the Alliance.

Key findings include that in 2021 The Green Game Jam tripled in size, with 30 studios joining, leading to 266,000 trees being planted and $800,000 being raised in support of UNREDD and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. In the process, 130 million players were reached, with 80% responding positively to themes of ocean and forest conservation.

Meanwhile, 60% of Playing for the Planet members committed to be net zero/carbon negative by 2030 with further work on targets set for 2022; seven new studios joined in 2021, taking the Alliance to 32 members with a combined gamer base of well over 1 billion, and a new Young Green Game Jam was launched with the support of TiMi studios, supported by students from over 300 Universities.

“The video gaming industry is a new ally in the race for a net-zero and nature-positive planet. The work that the Playing for the Planet Alliance undertook in 2021 is impressive and shows what is possible when the tools of collaboration replace the mindset of competition. While a lot remains to be done, the initiative has come a long way in just two years.”

Sam Barratt, Chief of Youth, Education and Advocacy at UNEP commented

Outside of the Alliance, the work has inspired major labels in the music industry to launch its own Music Climate Pact in December 2021 and also saw new baseline data on the power consumption of amount of energy that mobile devices use in game play, updating numbers from 10 years ago so that studios can more accurately calculate their carbon footprint.

Finally, the report outlines the direction the Alliance plans to take in 2022, which will see a new secretariat to host the imitative and a new White Paper outlining guidance for the industry on how to reduce their emissions. Details were also given about the Green Game Jam in 2022. Themed on Forests, Food, and the Future, the jam aims to surpass the number of previous participants and increase the reach and impact of the initiative – already, over 36 studios have signed up, with more set to join in the coming week.

Editor's note:
Video Games Europe Secretariat's commitment as Associate Member of the Alliance: During the 2021 EU Green Week, Video Games Europe became Associate Member of the United Nations-facilitated Playing for the Planet AllianceWith the help of ClimatePartner, Video Games Europe Secretariat measured and offset its environmental impact for 2020, estimated at 17,570 tco2 eq. The calculation follows the GHG Protocol and includes Scope 3 emissions. We are committed to repeating this exercise each year in order to achieve continuous climate neutrality. Learn more on our dedicated page.

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Since 1998, Video Games Europe has ensured that the voice of a responsible games ecosystem is heard and understood, that its creative and economic potential is supported and celebrated, and that players around the world continue to enjoy great video game playing experiences. Video Games Europe represents the video games industry in Europe and is based in Brussels, Belgium. Our membership comprises national trade associations in 18 countries across Europe which represent in turn thousands of developers and publishers at national level. Video Games Europe also has as direct members the leading European and international video game companies.