Xbox Game Studios ‘facing unique challenges and constraints’ amid COVID-19

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The ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has left a palpable mark on the games industry, disrupting product release schedules, and seeing top industry events shuttered. The spread has resulted in unparalleled economic impact, leaving a portion of the nation on lockdown, and shaking up daily operations for every development studio. Like many companies, Microsoft employees now work from home, already warning of the impact on its third-quarter earnings.

Microsoft’s creative arm appears the latest affected by the coronavirus, with Xbox Game Studios head, Matt Booty, speaking to GameSpot. Overseeing 13 in-house studios, responsible for Halo, Gears of War, Forza, and other flagship franchises, Booty discusses the potential impact on ongoing projects. And while stressing the importance of employee health, Microsoft hopes to support studio leads during this time.

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“We know that gaming connects people during times of social distancing, and we are committed to delivering the highest quality Xbox Game Studios games for our global community of players,” Booty reportedly told GameSpot in a statement. “At the same time, the health and safety of our XGS development teams is our top priority. Each studio is facing unique challenges and constraints depending on its particular location, and many of our external development partners around the world are similarly affected. We are supporting our studio leaders to make the right decisions for their teams and their individual games during this challenging time.”

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While the statement reflects the ongoing struggles, Microsoft has yet to delay any titles in response to the pandemic. But that’s undoubtedly on the table, with Xbox Game Studios slated to deliver a varied lineup throughout the calendar year, including Halo Infinite, Gears Tactics, Wasteland 3, Minecraft Dungeons, Microsoft Flight Simulator, and Grounded.

Two Xbox Game Studios titles recently made it out unscathed, Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Bleeding Edge, but represents only a fraction of the full 2020 roadmap.

Minecraft Dungeons appears a likely candidate for a delay, with Mojang stating “workflows will unfortunately be impacted” by working from home. The team behind Halo Infinite released a similar statement, which, while still on schedule to launch this holiday, admits changes to workflow in response to the climate.

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