Coronavirus and the impact on the video games industry

This is one of the biggest stories in the world right now, the coronavirus is spreading around the world pretty fast. This is effecting all different kinds of industries and the video games industry is no different. The following is a look at the coronavirus and the impact on the video games industry.

As a quick bit of background, the coronavirus (COVID-19) is caused by a member of the coronavirus family which has been transmitted from animals to humans. It appears to have originated in Huanan, China from a seafood market in the city. Since then it’s been spreading around the world including Italy, UK, USA, France, Japan, Australia and South Korea. If you get it then you may suffer from a cough, fever and breathing difficulties. As it’s viral pneumonia antibiotics won’t work and recovery depends on the individual’s immune system. All in all, it’s not great so do take care out there.

As well as an impact on our immediate health, it’s also going to impact our video games in 2020 and maybe more significant than you think.

Events postponed or cancelled

The Game Developers Conference 2020 this past weekend was postponed. This is a yearly get together of industry professionals full of networking, marketing and press events. This is a really important event for indie companies looking to make those connections and get some important press coverage ahead of release, and with the conference being postponed until later in the year that has hit really hard. Many spent lots of money trying to get to the conference only to lose their investment in travel and accommodation.

With so many faces losses the game industry has rallied around this cause with Wings Interactive creating the GDC Relief aimed at indie developers. It’s already raised $35,000 and has support from Raw Fury, Modern Wolf, Landfall, The Games and Online Harassment Hotline, and GameDev.World. This fund is available to all indie developers who had invested in going to GDC and will be assessed based on impact to their business.

Other events cancelled include the Taipei Game Show, PUBG Berlin is being rescheduled in April and The Big Deal Conference in Moscow has been pushed back too.

PAX East did go ahead this past weekend, however, it’s unclear at the moment what is going to happen to other events later in the year. Many have come ou tto say they are “monitoring the situation concerning Coronavirus”, so we’ll have to wait and see concerning E3, GamesCom, EGX and the other PAX events.

Next-generation consoles and production

Next-gen could be impacted too in terms of production. Many of the factories who are producing the next-generation consoles like Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are based in China and have been closed temporarily. We don’t yet know the date for the next-gen console release, and Sony, Microsoft et al have been tight-lipped since announcing the ‘holiday 2020’ details last year.

Nintendo has also moved some production of Switches from China to Vietnam. Jefferies analyst Ken Rumph said many game studios, including EA, Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard, have operations in China or outsource to Chinese partners.

“If shutdowns exceed a month or so, game schedules will be delayed. New consoles may likewise suffer supply issues from a prolonged disruption, ahead of their Fall 2020 planned launches.”

Game delays

According to games could also be delayed with Ubisoft (makers of Assassin’s Creed, The Division, Rainbow Six) and Take-Two Interactive reporting potential delays. Yves Guillemot, the Ubisoft CEO said there was some disruption in China, although he didn’t mention coronavirus specifically.

“At the moment it’s easy to handle,” he said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen. What you can expect is that we will be able to work with all the other studios we have in case it’s too long.”

Private Division has announced that its port of The Outer Worlds to the Nintendo Switch has been delayed from its original March release date.

“We’re delaying The Outer Worlds on Nintendo Switch due to the coronavirus impacting the Virtuos team working on the port, to provide them enough time to finish development,” read the tweeted statement. “We’ll now be releasing the physical version on the cartridge. Once we have a new launch date, we’ll let you know!”

That’s it for this look at the coronavirus and the impact on the video games industry. Let me know what you think down in the comments or check out more features.

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