I love video Games. The popular battle royale game Fortnite, however, is not one of them. This is probably a good thing for the planet as new data shows that gambling is truly carbon intensive. Sorry for my 11 year old nephew and millions of others playing.
The game launched in 2017 as one of the first with the battle royale format, which throws 100 players on a single map to fight to the death. Data released last week and shared with Earther on Friday revealed that in April alone, the game generated 140,800 metric tons of carbon. Slots Online Canada, which typically reviews casinos but also collects data on gambling events, took a look in April because of Astronomical, Travis Scott’s highly publicized digital tour that drew millions of players.
It turns out that having 12.3 million global players for a single event has a serious impact on the amount of carbon released. All digital services, from video streaming to our Internet, require energy. Our devices themselves (computers, game consoles, and TVs) require power, as do the data servers that make gaming possible in the first place. When players are online it can be tough on the planet, but especially when they are all logging in at the same time to broadcast a gaming event and download new digital stuff. While Fortnite-related emissions are likely lower in an average month when one of the biggest hip-hop stars in the world isn’t hosting an event, the game clearly still has some cleaning up to do.
Fortnite is unfortunately not alone. YouTube received similar examination for its carbon emissions as has Netflix and, uh, porn. Unfortunately, users who play the game on their PCs contribute more than those who play on their Nintendo or PlayStation 4 switches. PCs use more electricity, resulting in higher carbon emissions. Analysis shows that PCs emit 0.057 kilograms of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour. Meanwhile, Nintendo Switches (the cleanest of the three) emit just 0.051 kilograms of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour.
As the analysis clearly shows, the 140,800 metric tonnes of carbon is equivalent to consuming over 15 million gallons of gasoline or burning some 155 million pounds of coal. As world leaders slowly take action to reduce the footprint of vehicles and power plants, the digital sector has been largely ignored.
IInternet access is expanding and should reach nearly 90% of the world’s population by 2030. This is of course a good thing when it comes to equity and democracy, but the energy that powers these data centers must be clean for this service to develop sustainably . From now on, however, digital carbon emissions are expected to reach 8% of the world total by 2025, up from 4% a year ago. If we don’t clean it up quickly, if we are able to log in to play Fortniyou will be the least of our worries.