Alex Birlo on March 31, 2020
Recently both Sony and Microsoft talked about the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak may have on the development and release windows of upcoming PlayStation and Xbox titles. Both statements were short and vague but imply that troubles are most probably going to arise.
In a general statement about the impact of the Coronavirus situation on the “Sony Group”, they briefly mentioned their “Game & Network services” segment.
In that short part, it was stated that “Sony estimates that there will be no material impact on this business for the current fiscal year.” And by material they probably mean substantial, because this part of the business is almost entirely digital and the only difficulty will be moving the workers to a “work-from-home” setup until the outbreak passes.
But they still say that “Although no issues have emerged so far, Sony is carefully monitoring the risk of delays in production schedules for game software titles at both its first-party studios and partner studios, primarily in Europe and the U.S.” Which is just a vague corporate way to say “Problems have and will arise” mainly in delivery. Release schedules will be shifted one by one and the delivery of physical copies will be a mess.
The same goes for Microsoft’s Xbox. In another statement Matt Booty, the head of Microsoft Studios, also vaguely commented on their internal situation.
He said that they “know that gaming connects people during times of social distancing” and that they are “committed to deliver the highest quality Xbox Game Studios games” for their fans worldwide. Never the less he mentions that both their XGS developers and external partners are faced with “unique challenges” and that intensive efforts are underway to assist them and still keep the development on track.
It seems, the two statements basically dance around the obvious fact that the transition of the game development studios to a “work-from-home” setup and worldwide paralysis of delivery infrastructure will almost certainly have an impact on how soon the developers will be able to ship their games and on how long will it take to deliver the physical copies of these games.
The gaming industry is mostly a digital one. It delivers entirely digital products, yet it brings people very real emotions. This puts the industry in a very advantages position in comparison to others during this difficult time. And enables them to adjust and continue on delivering, while others are forced to shut down. So there is no reason to believe that the COVID-19 outbreak will have any devastating impact on the games we love.
Sony Group statement: https://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/News/Press/202003/20-023E/
Matt Booty statement: https://www.gamespot.com/articles/xbox-releases-statement-on-covid-19s-impact-on-exc/1100-6475291/?PostType=link&TheTime=2020-03-27T10%3A29%3A08&ftag=ftag%3DGSS-05-10aab8e&ServiceType=twitter&UniqueID=CAFD3A68-7015-11EA-BC91-1CFAC28169F1