At the start of 2020, there were some jokes made about the many games that were seeing delays in the first half of the year, though that was before the COVID-19 pandemic really came in and flipped the industry—and the rest of the world—on its collective heads. Various publishers, developers, PR firms, and other individuals and companies all have different ways of handling the bizarre new-normal of remote work in the era of social distancing. A report from Jason Schreier in the New York Times indicates that some developers are opting to scale back the scope of their games rather than face delays under the new working conditions.
Schreier’s article discusses the various ways in which developers have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic that is forcing development slowdowns due to new work-from-home measures and closures of various businesses critical to development and distribution. Sony opted to delay The Last of Us Part II and Iron Man VR indefinitely due to logistical issues with physical production and shipments. Marketing plans are being upended by the cancellations and inability to hold physical events. Developers and publishers who relied on events like GDC and E3 now need to adjust their plans to account for the lack of coverage to come out of those expos and conferences, which are now canceled.
Closer to home—literally—developers are finding that remote work can significantly slow the development process. From issues with distractions at home, to security concerns with as-yet unrevealed and unreleased games, developers are facing new challenges in the world of video game development. According to two sources that Schreier spoke with, some games are planning to cut features of their games, including “levels and quests” to avoid delaying their games.
Two developers of video games planned for this fall, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the news media, said that so far, they had chosen to cut scope rather than delay their games. Because of slowdowns in productivity at their studios — and at outsourcing houses, particularly in China and India — they plan to cut features, levels and quests in hopes of making their deadlines.
Due to the anonymity, we don’t know which developers these are, and if we’re looking at cut features from big releases like Cyberpunk 2077 and Marvel’s Avengers or from smaller-scale games from smaller teams. The article also mentions Ubisoft, who seems to be doing okay for the most part and is on-track for its upcoming releases, which were actually already delayed last year prior to the pandemic. They are also prepared to pivot if the console manufacturers end up delaying next-gen consoles, though both Sony and Microsoft seem pretty adamant that their respective Holiday 2020 release windows are still on.
[Source: New York Times]