Delayed Games, Canceled Events: How the Coronavirus Outbreak Has Impacted the Games Industry

Delayed Games, Canceled Events: How the Coronavirus Outbreak Has Impacted the Games Industry

A health crisis overseas has had global ramifications.

In China, an outbreak of a new virus has escalated into a health crisis. Reaching over 40,000 cases this month and a death toll over 1000 in mainland China, the coronavirus' impact is rippling across the world, and gaming is no exception.

2019-nCoV, now colloquially known as the "coronavirus," started in the Wuhan region of China and has been spreading through China and other neighboring territories. It's from a family of viruses that usually attack the respiratory system, and while it's not known how it spreads, data on other respiratory viruses points to coughing and sneezing.

Though most cases have been overseas, both the CDC and the State department have issued travel advisories.

In the meantime, several games and studios have been affected by the coronavirus. This is what we know so far.

One Switch port has already been put on hold. | Obsidian

The Outer Worlds for Switch put on hold

The Outer Worlds was Obsidian's return to the Fallout format, albeit in a hyper-capitalist space future rather than an apocalyptic wasteland. While it's already out on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, development of a port for the Nintendo Switch has been shifted due to the coronavirus.

Last week, Private Division announced that Virtuos, the developers of the Switch port, would be temporarily closed out of concern for health safety. It is currently waiting to finalize a new release date and development timeline, though it has also now confirmed it will ship as a physical cartridge.

Some speculate this may cause additional problems with third-party studos and production houses in the region, though Virtuos has been the highest-profile case thus far.

Nintendo Switch concerns

Concerns arose when Nintendo announced shipments of Switch peripherals to Japan would be delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak in China. Though this doesn't affect the U.S., industry analyst Daniel Ahmad told CNBC the issue could become a problem in the United States as well.

In a statement to Kotaku, a Nintendo of America spokesperson said that while manufacturing of Nintendo products for the Japanese market had been delayed due to the outbreak, Nintendo "does not anticipate a significant impact" on the global supply chain for systems and accessories.

The Overwatch League canceled some of its upcoming matches set to be held in China. | Blizzard Entertainment

Shows close their doors

A number of events have either postponed or shut down their live presence, out of health concerns. The 2020 Taipei Game Show, scheduled to take place from Feb. 6 through 9, has been postponed to the summer due to concern over the ongoing coronavirus issue. "Considering mass gatherings like Taipei Game Show increase the chance of cluster infections, the organizing committee has decided to steer away from such unthinkable risks," the show announced in January.

The 2020 Global Game Jam also canceled its in-person Shenzhen meet-up for the safety of its participants. "We are looking at alternative solutions where Shenzhen jammers can potentially participate in GGJ remotely," the organizers wrote. "Remote jamming is not normally allowed, but due to extreme circumstances it is being considered." Other sites have followed suit, either taking their event online or cancelling altogether.

Even Disney closed its Shanghai park location over the Lunar New Year holiday in response to "prevention and control of the disease outbreak."

Canceled matches

The coronavirus outbreak has had an affect on esports as well, with the Overwatch League suspending a number of matches scheduled to be played in China throughout February and March in order to "protect the health and safety" of players and spectators.

The League of Legends Pacific Championship Series opening has also been indefinitely postponed, and a Pokemon event in Hong Kong was canceled.

As of now, the coronavirus is still an ongoing health concern for the international community. We'll continue updating this story as more develops.

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Eric Van Allen

News Editor

Eric is a writer and Texan. He's a former contributor to sites including Compete, Polygon, Waypoint, and the Washington Post. He loves competitive games, live music, and travel.

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