Smash Bros. Director Says COVID-19 Is Casting a ‘Large Shadow’ Over Game Development in Japan

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Super Smash Bros. Director Masahiro Sakurai recently penned an interesting article on the latest issue of Weekly Famitsu (as reported by Kotaku) where he described the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on game development in Japan.

According to Sakurai-san, things have gotten much more complicated on a number of levels. Specifically with regards to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, he said that a presentation regarding a new fighter had to be delayed and that even if the developers announced a new fighter, the development would not be able to progress according to plans.

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The novel coronavirus has cast a large shadow over game development. This is a highly confidential job, and because it’s not like people can take it home and bring development materials with them, honestly, work cannot progress.

Things like business trips are being restricted. In particular, business trips for further away places have been nixed. For example, Nintendo [headquarters] is in Kyoto.

Likewise, visiting other companies has become difficult. For me personally, I was scheduled to go give a presentation at a publisher regarding a new fighter, but it wasn’t possible to get the necessary people together to meet, so that’s been indefinitely postponed.

Even if we announced a new fighter, there’s a high probability that development would not be able to progress as planned.

Moreover, if someone in the office is found infected with the virus, then I’d assume the entire building would need to be locked down and [game] development would cease.

It sounds like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate updates won't be able to go on at the usual pace. However, other developers like CD Projekt RED and publishers like Focus Home Interactive made it clear that they don't currently expect any delays after switching to the work-from-home model while the COVID-19 pandemic crisis is resolved.

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