In the 2020 edition of the Game Developers Conference annual survey, 33 percent of developers said that they'd experienced a game delay due to the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic and the shift to working from home. The hits kept coming throughout the year, affecting big games like Halo Infinite and Far Cry 6. Even the rigorously on-time Final Fantasy 14 had to push back an update. So it's not too surprising that this year's GDC survey of more than 3,000 game developers shows that nearly half have now experienced a pandemic delay.
In 2021, 44 percent of respondents said their game has been delayed due to Covid-19, citing a variety of reasons. Some developers mentioned the complications of dealing with kids and work-life balance while working from home. Others mentioned working remotely has made it harder to collaborate. "COVID basically disrupted our communications and work rhythm," wrote one developer.
Others cited the technical challenges in working from home. "It’s hard to adapt dev testing and development from home when you need a good internet connection and dev kits that work only via VPN due to 1st Party Partners not accounting for easy ways of facilitating work from home," wrote one of the respondents.
Despite the delays, 66 percent of developers say their productivity has improved or stayed the same, versus 32 percent who said it has somewhat or greatly decreased. Some appreciated the solitude or time-saving of not having to commute. Some cited the fatigue of virtual meetings and not having a focused work environment, but I think this one sums it up nicely:
"Groundhog Day feeling."
Hopefully by 2022's survey, Covid-19 delays will no longer be a relevant topic.
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Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.
When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).