The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread here in the US and around much of the world, changing life for nearly everyone – even in MMOs. Welcome back to another quick roundup of news bits all about how the virus has impacted even our corner of the gaming world.
GDC, which canceled its March events and promised to reschedule, has done so now. “Informa Tech, organizer of the Game Developers Conference® (GDC), has announced GDC Summer, a three-day celebration of the art, craft and business of game development, to be held from August 4-6 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco,” organizers announced yesterday. “GDC Summer will be a unique Game Developers Conference experience but will retain the same high level of expert-led talks as the traditional GDC, along with a freestyle two-day expo show floor from August 5-6.” Let’s hope things are back to normal enough by then, yes?
Media and Games Invest, the company that now fully owns Gamigo (ArcheAge, Trove, RIFT, etc.), issued a press release today with two notable entries for us right here: First, that “all MGI employees worldwide are working from their home offices.” And second, that it’s expecting improved revenues thanks to the sudden increase in depand. Not a surprise, but interesting to see the company spelling it out.
“Especially in Italy and Spain, but now also increasingly in Germany and the USA, the company is registering many new players and increased activity by existing players. Since MGI has consequently switched from data centers to cloud in the past years, the company can react flexibly to a higher number of players and minimize possible server disturbances. ‘Although it is still too early to forecast a concrete impact on revenues and earnings from the Corona crisis, we expect growing revenues and earnings in the gaming sector based on the experience of competitors from China’.”
Remember how Niantic made sweeping adjustments to Pokemon Go and Harry Potter Wizards Unite to allow people under quarantine to play? It’s now doing the same for Ingress; the game now counts portal recharges as hacks, reduces cooldowns, and allows more resonators per portal. “[P]lease be aware of your local environment when you go out and play,” the studio urges.
Following in DCUO’s footsteps, PlanetSide 2 is also now offering big bonuses for the weekend.
Chinese World of Warcraft players are getting a free week of play following uptime issues. (Cheers, Oleg!)
Blizzard is offering 7 free days of game time for World of Warcraft subscribers in China.
This is due to poor performance and downtime that has affected players in February during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Players can claim from March 19th pic.twitter.com/lF2fDNtzns
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) March 17, 2020
League of Legends might be headed in the same direction. This week, a Riot staffer announced on Twitter that the MOBA’s servers were hitting 90% max capacity in North America. The studio says it is scaling up server capacity, but in the meantime it expects login queues. Causing a bit more controversy is the note that Riot is fast-tracking partners and pro accounts so that “even if you can’t get into game, at least you’ll be able to watch your favorite players.”
Finally, yesterday we covered how GameStop was being predictably horrible, forcing desperate employees to continue working through lockdown without providing proper protective supplies, even in states that ordered “non-essential” businesses to close – states like mine. Well, it’s a little less bad: Now the retailer has announced it will at least stop accepting trade-ins, has reduced open hours, and is making an effort to reduce human contact in the stores. Update: Now it’s shutting down stores in California too. We assume it’ll shut down in other states, like New York, that have promised fines for companies that defy the order.
If you’re lost in the news and really just want a simple but scientific explainer on what’s happening, we highly recommend the brand-new Kurzgesagt episode on the virus. And all their other episodes on everything else, for that matter.
Hang in there folks and be safe.
More on the impact of the virus on gaming: