Animal Crossing and Resident Evil Village are the greenest games of the year

A study of environmentally conscious games named Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Resident Evil: Village among the most environmentally friendly video games. Recognition comes from measuring the number of players, console electricity usage (kWh), and playing time to calculate the carbon footprint of various popular video games and gaming devices.

The hugely popular Nintendo Switch title Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out on top, winning the accolade for most eco-friendly game, based on its player count, console release, and completion time. Calculations, by Green Gaming, determined that the Switch game emitted 0.003 kg of CO2 equivalent per hour. Although the game has a high player count, its emissions are low due to the Switch’s relatively low power consumption, especially compared to much more powerful consoles such as the PS5.

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Based on the fact that there are approximately 232,528 players on Animal Crossing: New Horizons at any given time, while completion times as reported by HowLongToBeat suggest players take an average of 60 hours, and taking into account from the kWh and resulting emissions of the Nintendo Switch, gaming has been calculated to result in 3,038.98 kg of CO2 emissions per year.


animal crossing new horizons villagers in flower garden with gyroids
Credit: YouTube channel Lex Play

Animal Crossing’s low emissions seem in line with the game’s message, with its themes of environmental conservation, but the decidedly different Resident Evil Village has also joined the Nintendo title in being a low-emission game.

At the other end of the scale, the most polluting games turned out to be very online titles such as League of Legends, Fortnite, Apex Legends and Call of Duty: Warzone. League was far ahead with around 58,379 tons of CO2, compared to the second most polluting Fortnite, which was on 6,425 tons of CO2.

League of Legends is one of the most played online games with around 2.3 million players online at any one time. Taking into account that a typical PC generates 0.023 kg of CO2 per hour and the average gamer spends an average of 1,008 hours on team play, this translates to the high number of tons of CO2 emitted per year.

Of course, while each of us has our own carbon emissions and we need to take them into account, we also need to be aware of how electricity is generated. Fossil fuels generate far more CO2 than more environmentally friendly energy sources, such as wind or solar, while industries such as steel production are huge contributors to global carbon emissions. While individuals clearly have a massive impact on the environment, carbon emissions are a nuanced topic, and heavy industries, governments and large corporations all have a role to play.

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