The head of Xbox believes that the games planned to arrive this year will mostly escape the issues that the COVID-19 can cause, but he has a different opinion about the upcoming, 2021 titles.
„Through the summer, early fall? I feel pretty good about those games. Games that were targeting a year from now or beyond? There’ll be some impact, but they’ll be able to react,” Phil Spencer told in an interview to Business Insider. They’ll be able to react – does that mean the developers will have to make up for the lost time by doing crunch? Heavy overtime to catch up?
He added that motion capture and audio are the biggest issues at the moment: „[Motion capture] is just something that’s stopped. We’re not going into mocap studios. If you had all your animation captured and you’re doing touch up in more individual art production and areas like textures and other things, you’re in a better position. If you’re waiting for a lot of either large audio work—when it’s with symphonies and other things—or mocap, you’re held up right now.”
Microsoft is not alone, though: ArenaNet, the developers of Guild Wars 2, announced that its next update will not have voiced dialogue. Some smaller studios try to come up with clever solutions. The team behind Witchfire, an indie FPS, created a literal garage development by making a small motion capture studio within a garage to mocap the reload animations.
Still, Spencer is hopeful: „I’m pretty confident in the industry’s ability to continue a steady flow of games coming out. There’s just a lot of games in production across the industry right now, and I think we’re going to be—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.”
He has a point: a significant amount of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X titles are mostly ready at this point, and they are being playtested and bugfixed. The programming, audiovisuals are mostly done, so they can be worked on from home.
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