Business Simulation Games

Why does the COVID-19 encourage universities to switch to online learning

Why does the coronavirus encourage universities to switch to online learning and how does a pandemic affect the growth and development of the e-learning market?


The global market of online education is one of the fastest growing and it promises to pass $282.62 billion by 2023. According to Global Market Insights, the market volume was $159 billion in 2017, $190 billion in 2018 and $205 billion in 2019.

It was previously assumed that the average annual growth rate of the e-learning market over the next 5–7 years would be 7–10%. However, the pandemic of 2020 and the subsequent limitations will obviously change the industry.

In contrast to a number of markets negatively affected by coronavirus, online education is experiencing a period of sharp growth. This is largely due to the mandatory transfer of universities to online formats and the development of alternative and more effective distance learning tools.

First of all, this relates to digital educational products based on game-based principles. The global five-year cumulative annual growth rate of this market is 33.2%, and revenue will exceed $24 billion by 2024.

According to Metaari’s 2019-2024 Global Game-based Learning Research, there were 8 major development catalysts in the global game-based learning market in 2019:

▪ artificial intelligence that changes the competitive environment

▪ a surge of interest in educational games with “mixed reality”

▪ a flow of private investment to training companies around the world

▪ major agreements between game developers and global distributors

▪ intensive mergers and acquisitions: large companies buying up companies developing products in the gaming training segment

▪ growing global consumer demand for mobile games

rapid spread of game-based learning in corporate segments around the world.

Obviously, the Covid19 pandemic and its consequences will be added to this list in 2020.

 Why are gamification and simulation in e-learning exactly the tools required for universities in distance learning? 

Classic e-learning formats are widely available and are actively used in higher education. However when the pandemic spurred the transition to the online format, making it mandatory for most disciplines, many universities expectedly faced a generational problem – half of the teachers do not own distance learning tools, and often do not know how to use Skype or Zoom.

Often the teaching staff is not technologically competent and remote work is a challenge for them. During classes, it is difficult for teachers to hold the attention of their students without a full-time presence with the audience, and even the simplest interactive tools that involve students in the educational process, such as quizzes, are not available to them. Due to low engagement of the audience, only 20% of students, according to statistics, reach the end of online courses. But if the standard approach to e-learning is replaced with simulation or learning games, it is possible to increase the number of students who graduate the course to 80%. This is exactly the result observed when Simformer held Business Universiade, in which 500 teams from 200 universities participated. 95% of students reached the final of the qualifying round.

Using business simulations of Simformer, a teacher may not spend 10 hours verbally explaining the theory in lectures, but, after giving introductory information, offer students the chance to practice the acquired knowledge. Observing how students work to solve the business problems of their virtual company and make a whole range of managerial decisions, the teacher can give feedback during the game scenario.

An important plus of simulations for the teacher is the ability to get a customized solution for a specific task. With this in mind, we offered our clients a design that allows any teacher to easily create their own business simulator in one day as well as integrate classic e-courses into the platform developing fundamentally new combined educational products in the format “THEORY in e-course + PRACTICE in business simulations = SKILLS”.

Despite the obvious advantages of learning business games, university professors, according to the experience of Simformer, are rather cautious to introduce business simulations into their courses. Therefore, positive feedback and the transformation of users (teachers) into brand ambassadors are extremely important from the point of view of the distribution and implementation of such a product as a learning business simulation.

For example, one university’s representative spends one semester teaching a group of three faculty members at once. Every six months, customers from among university teachers double the number of licenses at one university, and since the beginning of the pandemic, this process has been twice as fast.

Already in July 2020, a sharp increase in interest in the learning business simulations offered by our platform has been observed. At the same time, the demand for new solutions and formats is growing. The world has come to terms with the fact that the transfer of learning to an online format will become an integral part of the educational process for a long time. In addition, we, like other companies working in the e-learning sector, should be ready to provide universities with a maximum number of tools for effective and high-quality work.

To do this, Simformer proposed to university students a new format of distance summer practice in a realistic multi-user business simulation for the quarantine period.