Game News Genshin Impact on Shutdown: How China’s ‘Zero Covid’ Policy Affects Gaming?
While from France, the Covid-19 pandemic seems like a distant memory, the situation is more than worrying in China. The country is now facing its worst outbreak in two years, deploying extremely strict health measures in the most affected cities. In Shanghai, almost all of the 25 million inhabitants are confined. Businesses 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 its monthly update. Why ? The reason is not to be found on the side of ambitious content that would require more time or a technical problem that requires a few months of adjustment. The reason is again and again the Covid-19 pandemic. The virus may now be almost invisible in France, but it is making a very worrying return to China, with a situation comparable to the start of the epidemic. Last week, the local Department of Health announced more than 15,500 new cases in the last 24 hours. The city of Shanghai, which has 25 million inhabitants, would be the most affected. A metropolis with video game companies like Tencent, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft. But also HoYoverse, formerly MiHoYo, which develops Genshin Impact.
“Our team in Shanghai is now working from home and doing their best to organize all work online” Explain the studio, at Kotaku. “We are also providing resources to members of this team during this complex time”. To counter the return of the coronavirus, the Chinese authorities have opted for a particularly strict Zero-Covid policy. It applies to all major cities in the country where the health risk is too great, including Shanghai. It is a drastic confinement for almost the entire population for a month and strict monitoring of people exposed to the virus. A tactic that has already borne fruit in 2020 but which weighs very heavily on the daily lives of the inhabitants, led to demonstrate from their windows. Worse, it is even complicated to get food. Without forgetting the global economic impact, the country still being often considered as “the workshop of the world”.
Faced with the crisis
Of course, video game companies based in China are not spared. Starting with HoYoverse therefore, forced in early April to close its offices in Shanghai for a few days, writes Kotaku. This 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 in recording new dubs, especially with the confinement in force. The update delay would be 4 weeks.
It is certain, for a video game studio, switching to teleworking overnight is not easy. Beyond logistical problems that go without saying, developers very often work on confidential projectsas 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 bring development material with them; honestly, the work cannot progress”.
In one of our articles on the subject, developers also mentioned more down-to-earth problems, such as the delays in connecting to your 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” explained Pierre Berruer of Ubisoft at the time. Complications may vary by position. But in telework, the framework of a development is necessarily impacted. Except for the teams that have always organized themselves this way, like Moon Studios (Ori and the Blind Forest).
It is no coincidence that, out of 3,000 video game companies surveyed by the Game Developers Conference in 2021, 44% said they postponed their title because of the pandemic. But for Genshin Impact, even if it is “only” an update, the stakes remain high. This free action adventure game with gacha – draw a playable item or hero – draws all its strength from exemplary follow-up. It usually receives a major update every month and a half. A profitable strategy. Since the launch of the software (September 2020), players have spent 3 billions dollars in purchases in-gameon mobile, to the tune of one billion every six months.
HoYoverse knows it better than anyone: it is thanks to the players that Genshin Impact is where it is today, far ahead of the competition. And the Chinese studio has also planned compensation to apologize for the delay taken by version 2.7, although it is not within its purview. From May 11, fans will benefit from a whole host of bonuses. A welcome patch, specific to video games. But there is another area of the sector that will not be able to benefit from such aid. That of electronic chips, where the shortage starts again, especially at Intel. All in all, it’s not tomorrow that our favorite industry will really return to normal.
By IndiaJournalist jeuxvideo.com
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