During a time of global pandemic, the likes of which is unprecedented in the modern age, many people have been forced to self-isolate or have been put on lockdown where they cannot leave their homes. During this time more and more people are turning to games to keep themselves entertained as they are a great way to spend time and can also be a great way to connect with other people over great distances without having to meet face to face. But if everyone is isolated at home what has happened to video game development? Can we still expect new games to be released on time while or this is going on, or will games be delayed by Coronavirus?
Will Games Be Delayed By Coronavirus?
Depending on where the companies are based they will have been hit to varying degrees so far. China, for example, went into a very strict lockdown very early on, this impacted work severely. Other countries took much longer to take such measures, this allowed companies a little more time to plan ahead. This is invariably going to have an impact on work. Many games that were already close to release may have already wrapped up work and as such wouldn’t be too affected whereas others may be delayed years after the bulk of the Covid-19 virus is over.
One way that the virus has impacted games around the world from a very early stage is that many Chinese outsourcing companies, which many businesses rely on, were closed down completely to deal with the virus. This will generally have a bigger impact on triple-A games as larger games need a team of outsourcers to achieve the quality of modern games.
What Are Games Companies Doing?
Many games companies around the world have done their best to keep going through trying times. Many employees around the world are now working from home, either remoting into work computers or taking computers home. The main difficulty with this approach is the secretive nature of game development. With Non-Disclosure Agreements being such a huge part of keeping game IPs secure it is difficult to work offsite. With the realization that the choice is between this or not working at all then most companies have opted to allow working from home.
Not all game developers have been pro-active in their planning though. Some were pretty slow on the uptake, denying it would be an issue up until their respective governments shut down non-essential services. Others eventually bowed to pressure from employees when things got even worse than the long hours they usually work. Not only did this endanger their own employees it endangered the society they are in as a whole. Luckily many governments stepped in to stop this behavior but many still work in offices while trying to keep things running as if nothing has changed.
Will My Games Still Arrive?
Not only are people wondering ‘will games be delayed because of Coronavirus’ but they are also wondering ‘will I still be able to get games during the Coronavirus’. In many countries, non-essential shopping has been banned and many non-essential stores have been forced to close for the near future. Some supermarkets stock some games but they are normally only the games in the charts. For others you need to go elsewhere. Many games can be downloaded from only stores like Steam or the Epic Store but that might not work for everyone.
Some people will have pre-ordered games and you may be concerned if that’s the case. Luckily, for the most part, many country’s postal services are still up and running, so long as the warehouses and factories in which the physical copies of games are made are still running in some capacity then you will most likely see your games. However, the strains on the logistics systems may mean they are delayed or canceled. In many cases, you will be offered a full refund if that is the case.
What Does The Future Hold?
These are scary and unprecedented times, as such, there is no clear picture of what the future will hold and how this will play out. The full impact of the Covid-19 virus and the subsequent shut down of businesses and trading cannot be asses just yet and some companies may find that the struggle too much to take, especially if they are in a time of hardship. In terms of game companies, we are pretty lucky. Game businesses can be run fairly effectively while working from home with mostly minimal disruption so whilst productivity may suffer somewhat most companies should be able to ride it out. Unfortunately, the games industry is not great at contingency planning, hence its heavy reliance on unpaid overtime, so companies that rely on this unhealthy last-minute rush or work may find the strain is too much and might have to consider better business practices.
The other bonus that games companies have is that, although logistics can make getting games to people harder, games are one of the few industries that have seen an upturn in sales due to people wanted to occupy their time while locked indoors. This gives games companies a little more financial breathing space in hard times and will hopefully alleviate much of the layoffs seen in other industries. For once game studios seem like one of the more stable industries in these trying times.
Ultimately though, time will tell what impact the current situation will have on the games industry and the wider world. We can only do what we can to keep things running smoothly. Remember to stay safe.