There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a drastic effect on many areas of society. For those with an interest in esports and gaming, the postponement of last year’s Game Developers Conference was probably the first time it really hit home that things could change.
That cancelled event was due to take place this time last year and while the pandemic is now seemingly declining, it is still very much a real and present threat.
Not only that, but the impacts of 12 months of working from home are starting to be felt throughout the gaming industry in particular.
The Impact Of COVID-19 On The Video Gaming Industry
Initially, with many people forced to stay at home through lockdowns, the video gaming industry seemed to be boosted by this. With time on their hands, many people turned to video games, esports, and esports betting as a way to pass some time.
Subscriptions to online games soared, as did the number of people playing games online. Live streaming services found an increasing number of viewers tuning in to catch up with the latest news from the esports and gaming industry.
Then late in 2020, we saw the release of the first of the next-generation consoles in the shape of the new Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5. Demand for these consoles was, and remains, huge and at the time of writing, Microsoft and Sony cannot keep up with the demand for stock across the globe.
As strange and paradoxical as it seemed, COVID-19 looked like being a strange blessing in disguise for the gaming and esports industry. However, as we head into the third month of 2021, sadly it is not all good news, especially in terms of new game development.
2021 – The Year Of Delayed Releases?
One of the big stories of 2020 was the often-delayed release of the games The Last Of Us Part 2, Cyberpunk 2077, and Final Fantasy 7. While they were the exception rather than the norm in 2020, it looks likely that 2021 will also see a raft of expected game releases being delayed.
And some of those delays could well be considerable in duration.
With development teams having to work remotely during the pandemic, it appears that this has had an affect on the speed at which games are being developed and, worryingly, also on their quality.
One such game that has been adversely affected is the Destiny 2 The Witch Queen expansion, which has been pushed back from an original 2021 release date, to 2022.
“With COVID-19 keeping us away from the office, and the large amount of work on our plates, we needed to move the date in order to make sure that both this year’s updates and The Witch Queen were both delivered at the quality we strive for,” stated Bungie
It’s not just independent studios that have been hit. Sega have reduced down the number of games it expects to release in the financial year to March 31st, 2021 to 18 from its original forecast of 30.
Other titles to be hit include Anthem by Bioware, which has seen its development halted for the time being, while PS5 landmark title Gran Turismo 7 has also been moved back to a 2022 release due to “COVID-19-related production challenges”.
It seems inconceivable that these will be the only games affected by COVID-19 delays which leads to a somewhat strange scenario of two brand new consoles, but far fewer games to be released to enjoy on them.
At least for the time being.