The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak has already affected hardware production, caused many developers and publishers to start working from home, and delayed the release of one prominent port, but now we may see the first high-profile release of a new game pushed back due to the virus' aggressive spread.
Today, Mojang announced that its team is now working on Minecraft Dungeons remotely, and says that the impact on the team's workflows could change its development timeline. Minecraft Dungeons is targeting a release on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Switch sometime next month, April 2020.
As we’re working from home to do our part in protecting our community, our workflows will unfortunately be impacted. We’re working hard to deliver Minecraft Dungeons in April, but we’re also re-evaluating our timeline to make sure we bring you the best game possible. Stay tuned! pic.twitter.com/77964UwFpB— Minecraft Dungeons (@dungeonsgame) March 17, 2020
Dungeons' release month was revealed at Microsoft's X019 event last November. First announced in 2018, Minecraft Dungeons is a simplified co-op dungeon crawler with procedurally generated levels but none of Minecraft's trademark building mechanics. After a demo at E3 2019, Senior Editor Caty McCarthy described it as being like "Diablo for the whole family."
With the nearby city of Kirkland, Washington being one of the first in the U.S. to emerge as a coronavirus epicenter, Microsoft quickly moved to institute a work from home policy for its Redmond, WA headquarters and other nearby offices in response to the crisis. Microsoft is also asking its global employees to work from home in any region where health officials advise it. Mojang is based in Stockholm, Sweden, and according to the U.S. Embassy in Sweden, the country's public health authority raised its risk assessment level for the coronavirus to "Very High" a week ago. It's advising that anyone exhibiting mild symptoms stay at home to prevent spread of the infection.
Mojang is not alone amongst game studios in having to adjust to remote workflows. Several high profile developers including Bungie, CD Projekt Red, and Rockstar have announced that employees have transitioned to work from home solutions for the time being. Nintendo, which also has its U.S. headquarters in Redmond, WA, has also instructed staff in Washington and California to work from home after a Redmond-based employee tested positive for the virus.
In early February, Private Division announced that the Nintendo Switch version of Obsidian's The Outer Worlds is being delayed indefinitely due to the coronavirus-caused temporary closure of Virtuos, the China-headquartered studio responsible for the port. The coronavirus outbreak has also led to the cancellation of E3 2020, postponement of this year's GDC, and Nintendo production delays. Microsoft has announced that it plans to host a digital event in place of its usual E3 press conference.