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All the ways the coronavirus is disrupting the gaming industry

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The video game industry, like just about every other industry, is facing a massive disruption due to the coronavirus. Last month, the Game Developer Conference was postponed with the hope of meeting "later in the summer", and yesterday the organizers of the biggest and most important annual gaming conference, E3, officially canceled their event due of security issues related to coronavirus. In doing so, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), a U.S.-based business group for the video game industry, joined the list of technology organizations who canceled their annual events due to the virus, including the annual Google developer event, I / O 2020and the Facebook developer conference, F8.

E3, officially known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo, has been a staple in the video game industry for years. Video game developers, publishers and marketers from more than 100 countries flock to the conference to show their latest and most ambitious projects. Publishers like Square Enix and Ubisoft are scrambling for their upcoming games, while hardware manufacturers like console manufacturers Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are using E3 as an opportunity to tout their latest systems. This year, fans expected Microsoft to drop more information on their next console, the XBox Series X. The event typically draws more than 50,000 attendees to the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Some participating companies have expressed support for the decision of ESA. Instead of coming together to present at a single event, many are now considering broadcasting their announcements by live broadcast or video. Nintendo leads the pack in this regard as he already broadcasts his presentations every year during E3. Sony intended to do the same this year. But for other companies who wanted to attend the event, the coronavirus force to consider how they can shift gears and make announcements remotely.

While large companies can more easily adjust their plans for product announcements via livestream, cancellations of events like E3 or the Game Developers Conference can hit small companies hard.

"For many (freelance developers), it’s the only event they’re attending, "said Rami Ismail, co-founder of independent game developer Vlambeer. Time. "It is a blow that could end his career."

Small developers can't just eat the travel expenses, they have to work harder than the big companies to get reimbursed for their hotels and airline tickets. They also lose valuable opportunities to network with larger publishers and market their games. This could mean that some projects will not see the light of day or may be delayed, which also affects the bottom line.

Cancellation of events is not the only impact of COVID-19 on the gaming industry. Many manufacturers have factories in China, where quarantines imposed on workers expose products to a real risk of out of stock. Nintendo admitted in February that its production facilities would be affected by the massive closure of the country's industries. The company expects delivery delays and shortages of its Nintendo Switch in the United States and Europe from April. Facebook has expressed a similar concern about the shortage of its Oculus Quest VR helmetand Sony informed its investors that it was preparing for a Playstation 4 production as well as.

Thibault Camus / AP / Shutterstock

Just as the NBA canceled the rest of the basketball season on Wednesday night after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for coronavirus, the world of esport has also canceled competitions, indefinitely postponed or had teams removed from tournamentsor switched to online competitions only. For some esports games, going to an online competition is not a big deal, but for genres like fighting games, arguably one of the most competitive segments of the game 39; esport, the change could be more complicated. Many popular fighting games, such as street fighter, had a hard time creating fluid online game which is not often disturbed by the lag. In professional-level play, delayed play can suddenly reverse the course of a fight when a player's actions are delayed while opponents are unaffected. Games without a good online code, called "netcode, & # 39; make the game more frustrating to play and less fair in a competition.

While most tournament organizers (TOs) seem to be aware of the health risks of letting their events continue as normal, they may be reluctant to cancel for a very real reason: they cannot afford it. CEO Dreamland, a competitive tournament focused on the Super Smash Bros. series, is one of those events wedged between a rock and a hard place. Scheduled to take place this weekend in Orlando, Florida, CEO Dreamland was beaten by claims, tournament hosts withdrawing from the eventand very recent from Trump ban on travelers from europe, which halted the projects of certain international players.

Dreamland CEO Alex Jebailey went to Twitter to express his frustration at the situation. He understood the concerns of the players for their health, but explained to the public that he could not stop the event unless the events prohibited by city or state as did Washington Governor Jay Inslee. Otherwise, the organizers could lose all the money necessary for the organization of the event.

Other OTs expressed similar frustration. "As a TO of an event next weekend, we are in the same situation," wrote a Twitter user. @ClokkeJames, one of the organizers of the Colombian Smashdown 2020 event. "Unless otherwise decided, cancellation of the event means refunds, which means that all the money invested in events come out of our pockets. Please understand. "

The Twitter account of an annual fighting game tournament held in Michigan, Michigan Masters, also recognized difficulties in managing loss of income.

"Our team has lost thousands of dollars in the past few days due to cancellations. We believe it is morally correct to reimburse those who will no longer participate in the event, but we are doing our best to limit our losses. " The story continued: "Stress is an understatement for the feelings felt by event directors. (Fighting game community) events have never been a way to profit, they probably never will be. weigh on the financial stress that COVID has imposed on us. We are sorry. "

The impact of COVID-19 on the video game industry could be more damaging than initially expected. Independent game developers could lose the chance to find a publisher for their games. The organizers of CEO Dreamland and the Michigan Masters mentioned the possibility that the loss of income this year could prevent their events from coming back next year or never. Pandemic could become the death of certain locally organized events or small gaming companies. It is a thought that gives food for thought, and underlines unexpected effects of the coronavirus that have yet to occur.



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