Head of Xbox Phil Spencer Speaks to Game Development Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

Likely the biggest topic in the gaming industry at the moment is the impact of the global pandemic on game development and hardware production. We’ve already seen shortages of consoles and many leaders have spoken about the potential to impact game release dates.

Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, has made several notable comments lately to the potential impact along with what their internal game studios are seeing. In a conversation with Business Insider, Spencer provides a little more insight.


In terms of how the pandemic could affect games for the foreseeable future, he alluded to releases in 2020 likely still meeting targets but longer term projects potentially being impacted.

“Through the summer, early fall? I feel pretty good about those games,” Microsoft’s Xbox leader Phil Spencer told Business Insider. “Games that were targeting a year from now or beyond? There’ll be some impact, but they’ll be able to react.”

He then provided more detail on how development could possibly be delayed.

“Mocap is just something that’s basically stopped. We’re not going into mocap studios,” Spencer told Business Insider. “If you had all your animation captured and you’re doing touch up in more individual art production and in areas like textures and other things, you’re in a better position. If you’re waiting for a lot of either large audio work — when it’s with symphonies and other things — or mocap, you’re held up right now and you’re making progress in areas that you are.”


Annual sports franchises like “Madden” and “FIFA” are a good place to start. “It’s really in those [types of] games that were trying to finally get all their asset base together in terms of art production that they might have the biggest impact,” Spencer said.

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Thankfully for fans, Spencer is still fully confident in his team(s) delivering the Xbox Series X this holiday season.

“Even though we’re obviously not traveling to China, we feel good about our progress on hardware,” Spencer said. “I’ve got my take-home [console] downstairs and I’m playing on it most nights, and I feel good about the software updates that we’re doing.”

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Finally, many see Spencer as a champion for the industry who merely loves seeing the gaming industry grow. He continues to exude confidence in the industry as a whole even when facing the challenges of a global pandemic.

“I’m pretty confident in the industry’s ability to continue a steady flow of games coming out,” he said. “There’s just a lot of games in production across the industry right now, and I think we’re going to be — as an industry — we’re going to be fine. I’m bullish on what this means in the long run for games, even if there’s a certain impact to a certain launch window for certain titles that we might see.”

Our Take

With more people gaming than ever globally, it’s certainly a challenge for publishers and developers to meet demand. Fortunately the gaming industry is healthier than its ever been and as Spencer said, with so many titles in development across the industry, it shouldn’t be a problem that has a negative impact to players. More than anything, we’re very happy to hear the Series X continues to be on-track for launch this holiday.

By Seasoned Gaming

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