Xbox Boss Phil Spencer Comments On COVID-19's Impact For Xbox Series X And Halo Infinite Release Dates
"Things right now aren't easy. Things are stretched. I can feel it in the teams--they are stretched."
Xbox boss Phil Spencer has commented extensively for the first time on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the planned launch of Xbox Series X later this year and more. Speaking to IGN, Spencer said he wants people to know that first and foremost, the safety and security of its teams is what is most important to him during this time of crisis.
"The thing I'm going to put front and center is the safety and security of the team," Spencer said. "There is no decision that I will make, or frankly anybody at Microsoft would even ask me to make, that would compromise the safety and security of the teams for a near-term financial or product gain. The teams are the most important thing."
Pragmatically, Spencer said he has observed that the supply chains in China have "started to come back," which would enable the parts to be assembled for Xbox Series X for launch this holiday.
Right now, Xbox Series X remains on track to launch on schedule this holiday period, but Spencer stressed time and again that this is a fluid situation and nothing is set in stone right now.
Also in the interview, Spencer said the game development teams are coming to terms--not always easily--as they shift to a work-from-home setup. "Building a video game from home--a large, distributed team of hundreds of people--is not easy. Video games are big, and there are massive asset bases that each one of these games have," Spencer said.
Some of the Xbox Game Studios titles that have already been delayed due to COVID-19 have included Wasteland 3 and Minecraft Dungeons. Many are wondering if Halo Infinite, which is a launch title for Xbox Series X, might also be delayed, but Spencer said nothing is decided yet. Right now, Halo Infinite is still on track to launch this holiday with the next-gen console.
"Things right now aren't easy. Things are stretched. I can feel it in the teams--they are stretched," Spencer said. "We have nothing right now that says we're not going to make the dates that we've been planning, but I'll also say this is real-time stuff. I'm gonna put the safety and security of our teams at the top, along with a quality product. I don't want to rush a product out if it's not ready."
Overall, Spencer said he is "feeling good" about where Xbox stands today with regards to preparing to launch the Xbox Series X on schedule this holiday. "Feeling good, but also being eyes wide open," he said.
Spencer confirmed that Microsoft has no "plan B" in place right now for what could happen if COVID-19 crisis continues for an extended period of time. That being said, Spencer said he does not want to launch the Xbox Series X on a staggered basis as it did with the Xbox One. In Japan, for example, the Xbox One launched a full nine months after the system arrived in other parts of the world. Spencer said he wants the Xbox Series X to have a global simultaneous rollout.
This brings up an interesting scenario with Halo Infinite. Spencer said Microsoft "won't hold the launch of the platform for any individual game." Based on this comment, it sounds like Microsoft will ship the Xbox Series X this holiday even if Halo Infinite--or any other marquee first-party game--is delayed. No matter what happens, Spencer said Microsoft plans to be "very transparent" with people about their plans.
Halo Infinite being delayed would be a big loss for the Xbox Series X, as Microsoft hasn't launched a new Xbox console with Halo as a launch title since the original Xbox back in 2001. For its part, Halo Infinite developer 343 Industries has said the COVID-19 crisis "may get worse before it gets better."
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