The next generation may not start this year after all, as analysts suggest the coronavirus could impact hardware and software release dates.
As soon as Nintendo warned of stock problem with the Nintendo Switch, because of the coronavirus outbreak, it immediately became obvious that the problems for games companies wouldn’t necessarily end there.
Over 90% of all console hardware is manufactured in China and with production currently ramping up for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X that means the disruption caused by the outbreak could delay the consoles’ launch this autumn.
As a result, financial services company Jefferies Group has already warned investors of a delay to the start of the next generation, as well as continued stock problems with the Switch and new iPhone.
‘The video game sector is currently manufacturing, or beginning to, a once-in-several-years’ product generation change for the 2020 holiday season,’ says the note from Jefferies Group.
‘If [company] shutdowns exceed a month or so, game schedules will be delayed. New consoles may likewise suffer supply issues from a prolonged disruption, ahead of their autumn 2020 planned launches.’
According to the Business Insider, infamous manufacturing giant Foxconn is already quarantining workers and other companies are also taking action.
It’s not just the hardware which could be delayed though, as a surprising amount of software development is also done in China.
It’s almost exclusively unglamorous work creating art assets – things such as high-res textures and 3D object models – but Jefferies Group estimates that between 30 to 50% of art creation in Western games is done by Chinese companies.
As a result, the Switch version of The Outer Worlds has already been delayed from 6 March until sometime in April, since developer Virtuos Studios, who are handling the port, are Chinese.
Stock shortages are commonplace during new console launches and last generation the PlayStation 4 didn’t launch in Japan until three months after Europe and the US.
The Xbox One also had a staggered launch, due to a lack of a components for the Kinect motion sensor camera. As a result, it didn’t even launch across the whole of Europe at the same time.
Both Sony and Microsoft have indicated they wanted to avoid that situation this time round, but now it seems there’s a chance their new consoles could be delayed everywhere.
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