Game news Genshin impact on shutdown: How does China’s ‘zero covid’ policy affect gaming?
While from France the Covid-19 pandemic seems like a distant memory, the situation in China is more than worrying. The country is now facing its worst outbreak in two years, with extremely strict health measures in the worst-hit cities. Nearly all 25 million inhabitants are locked up in Shanghai. Companies also pay the price. Among them MiHoYo, studio behind the online box “Genshin Impact”.
For the first time in its history, Genshin impact will not host the monthly update. Why ? The reason is not because of ambitious content that would take more time or a technical problem that would require several months of adjustment. The reason is again and again the Covid-19 pandemic† The virus may now be nearly invisible in France, but it is making a very worrying return to China, with a situation similar to the start of the epidemic. Last week, the local Ministry of Health made more than 15,500 new cases in the last 24 hours. The city of Shanghai, with a population of 25 million, would be the hardest hit. A metropolis with video game companies such as Tencent, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft. But also HoYoverse, formerly MiHoYo, that develops Genshin Impact.
“Our team in Shanghai is now working from home and doing their best to organize all work online” To explain the studio, in Kotaku. “We also provide resources to members of this team during this complex time”† To prevent the return of the coronavirus, the Chinese authorities have opted for a very strict Zero-Covid policy† It applies to all major cities in the country where the health risk is too great, including Shanghai. It’s a drastic lockdown for almost the entire population for a month and strict monitoring of people exposed to the virus. A tactic that already paid off in 2020 but that weighs heavily on the daily lives of residents, led to demonstrations from their windows. Worse, it’s even complicated to get food. Without forgetting its global economic impact, the country is still often considered “the workplace of the world”.
Facing the crisis
Of course, video game companies based in China are not spared. Starting with HoYoverse, who was forced to close its offices in Shanghai for a few days at the beginning of April, Kotaku writes. That is probably still the case today. A few days ago, the team announced on Twitter the postponement of its version 2.7 without specifying a date† In question, “the progress of the project”. Rumors speak of difficulties recording new dubs, especially now that the incarceration is in effect. The update delay would be 4 weeks.
There is no doubt that it is not easy for a video game studio to switch to telecommuting overnight. In addition to logistical problems that are obvious, developers often work on confidential projectsif explained Masahiro Sakurai, creator of Super Smash Bros., during the first pandemic (March 2020). The man and his teams were then preparing new characters for the famous fighting game: “It’s very confidential work, and it’s not like people can take it home and take development material with them; frankly, the work cannot progress”†
In one of our articles on this topic, developers also mentioned more sober issues, such as the delays in connecting to their professional computer from home and testing in a game engine, for example. “The problem is that as a Level & Mission Designer I have to test a lot of things in the engine” stated Pierre Berruer of Ubisoft at the time. Complications may vary by position. But in telecommuting, the framework of a development is necessarily affected. Except teams that have always organized themselves like this, like Moon Studios (Ori and the Blind Forest†
It’s no coincidence that of the 3,000 video game companies surveyed at the Game Developers Conference in 2021, 44% claimed to have their title postponed due to the pandemic† But for Genshin Impact, even if it’s “just” an update, the stakes remain high. This free action adventure game with gacha – draw a playable item or hero – draw all its strength from exemplary succession. It usually gets a major update every month and a half. A profitable strategy. Since the software’s launch (September 2020), players have spent 3 billion dollars in purchases in the gameon mobile, at a cost of $1 billion every six months.
HoYoverse knows it better than anyone: thanks to the players, Genshin Impact is where it is now, far ahead of the competition. And the Chinese studio is also planned a a fee to apologize for the delay in version 2.7, although it does not fall within its jurisdiction. From May 11, fans will benefit from a whole range of bonuses. A welcome patch, specifically for video games. But there is another part of the industry that cannot benefit from such support. That of electronic chips, where the shortage is picking up again, especially at Intel. All in all, it’s not tomorrow that our favorite industry will really go back to normal.
Through IndiaJournalist jeuxvideo.com