USG Notebook is a weekly column dedicated to rounding up rumors, tidbits, and commentary that didn't get full coverage on the site.
Few stories stick out more in the last week than the ongoing effects of the COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, outbreak. Doctors, scientists, and medical personnel work to uncover more about this spreading virus, and it's already visibly impacted a crucial time of year for game companies.
Last night, the city of San Francisco declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus. The declaration will notably help the city get ready for any potential outbreak, including reimbursement from the state and federal governments for cash spent on preparedness.
Still, the 2020 Game Developers Conference is scheduled to happen in the city of San Francisco just a few weeks from now, in the middle of March. Today, the conference posted a statement:
"We've recently learned of the additional preventative measures instituted by the City Of San Francisco around COVID19. Locally, the California Department of Public Health, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, and the San Francisco Travel Association continue to support the convening of public events, and we are moving forward as planned. More information can be found in the updated SFTA letter to GDC attendees."
Despite GDC's statement that it would execute a "safe and successful event," companies have been backing off their official participation with events like GDC and PAX East. (Note: USgamer is owned by ReedPop, which organizes PAX.)
Sony has backed out of both PAX East and GDC 2020. Facebook and Kojima Productions have also canceled their participation, Square Enix and Capcom have scaled back their PAX East plans, Electronic Arts has canceled all official participation at GDC and will further restrict non-essential travel, and overseas, the Overwatch League has called off a number of Homestand matches.
It is obvious that the coronavirus is having an effect on the industry, affecting event attendance and even further, the actual developers who live in the affected regions. With a new console generation on the horizon and E3 2020 looming in the distance, the question now seems to be drifting to how much longer this will go on, and what lasting effects it might have.
From the Rumor Mill
- An Amazon France listing for Horizon Zero Dawn on PC, published by Sony, popped up and disappeared this morning. While some notable PlayStation exclusives have been making their way to PC, this one would be a big get for the computer gamers.
- Nintendo has reportedly been cracking down on high-profile leakers in the wake of its blacklisting of a site for screenshot leaks of Pokemon Sword and Shield.
News and Tidbits
Spider-Man made the rounds this week, but not for any web-slinging heroics. It was Peter Parker's perfectly portrayed pectorals that caused a hubbub, as one character artist discussed sculpting the friendly neighborhood superhero's nipples with Fanbyte. And if you thought the trail ended there, Polygon talked to one animator who fielded concerns from Edward Norton over his virtual chest in 2008's The Incredible Hulk video game.
Rob McElhenney, coming off the first season of video game office comedy Mythic Quest, told the Happy Sad Confused podcast about once being attached to a Minecraft movie. His pitch sounds interesting, but it died on the vine, according to the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia creator. "With these kinds of numbers and this kind of scale, $150 million, which is what we were budgeted for, it can fall apart at any moment," McElhenney said. "You have to live in that mystery."
Developer Sanzaru Games was acquired by Facebook. The Sly Cooper 4 developer has garnered some attention in the VR space, especially for last year's Oculus-exclusive Asgard's Wrath. That's good news for any VR enthusiasts hoping for more studio support in the space, but bad news for anyone holding out hope for another Sly Cooper game.
From a note we're sending out to clients this week: Apple will be enforcing an existing mobile game publishing law that requires all games to have an approval number (ISBN) to operate in China. This will close existing loopholes and could impact games already on the store. pic.twitter.com/zp3Sa2SjbX- Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) February 25, 2020
Me: "The U.S. hardware market peaked back in 2008. Since 2012, it's been relatively stable. But the hardware market is what it is, and to push growth and get to a worldwide audience of billions... (Spencer) is absolutely correct." https://t.co/3rFEfuYWcJ- Mat Piscatella (@MatPiscatella) February 25, 2020
Find someone who loves you the way Takenobu Mitsuyoshi loves the Daytona USA theme pic.twitter.com/ijoN5j6zUG- NBA Jam (the book) is OUT NOW in print + digital (@nbajambook) February 26, 2020