Phil Spencer thinks 2021’s games will be impacted most by COVID-19

2020 games should be mostly fine

While it might be natural to assume that this year’s games will be most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic (and, to be fair, some of them have been), Xbox head Phil Spencer thinks delays will be most prevalent in games that are targeting a 2021 release.

In an interview with Business Insider, Spencer explained that a lot of 2020’s lineup should be in a good place production-wise to transition to work-from-home setups. “Through the summer, early fall? I feel pretty good about those games,” Spencer said.” Games that were targeting a year from now or beyond? There’ll be some impact, but they’ll be able to react.”

Spencer points to expensive parts of triple-A development as bottlenecks when everyone’s stuck working remotely. “Mocap is just something that’s basically stopped. We’re not going into mocap studios,” he stated. Spencer gave other examples such as voice actors recording dialogue and soundtracks with symphonic scores as parts of production that simply aren’t possible right now.

“If you had all your animation captured and you’re doing touch up in more individual art production and in areas like textures and other things, you’re in a better position. If you’re waiting for a lot of either large audio work … or mocap, you’re held up right now,” Spencer said. He specifically mentioned the likes of FIFA and Madden as the types of games likely to be impacted because they work on an annual production schedule.

Even though coronavirus has strong and far-reaching effects, Spencer predicts the video game industry will come out mostly fine. “I’m pretty confident in the industry’s ability to continue a steady flow of games coming out,” he said. “There’s just a lot of games in production across the industry right now, and I think [as an industry] we’re going to be fine. I’m bullish on what this means in the long run for games, even if there’s a certain impact to a certain launch window for certain titles that we might see.”

Xbox lead Phil Spencer says the industry will start to see the impacts of coronavirus in early 2021, as some crucial aspects of video game production have ‘basically stopped’ (MSFT) [Business Insider]

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Brett Makedonski
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