Resident Evil 8 Release Could Be Foiled By COVID-19 According To Capcom Fiscal Report
As the months drag on, so do the announcements of games being pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies are waffling between indefinite delays and potentially disastrous digital releases. It’s a shitty situation. However, we should also be aware that it’s not just the newest upcoming games that will be affected by the outbreak. Games are in development for years. Almost everyone is working from home at the moment. Most of the impact of the pandemic will be felt for months, maybe even years down the line. It’s a sobering reality, and one that many major companies are now having to publicly face.
The story today comes from the recently released 2019 Capcom Financial Results report. The financial year for Capcom ends in March 31st, 2020, meaning most of the results are from their pre-pandemic business. However, the report does touch on Capcom’s efforts to maintain operation while weighing employee safety in light of the pandemic. In the section of their report titled, “Business continuity planning,” the report had this to say:
Further, accompanying the state of emergency that was declared in Japan due to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, there are some concerns regarding the impact on the Arcade Operations and Amusement Equipments businesses, as well as on content production through work-from-home. Among these, in addition to anticipating a decrease in revenue due to temporary closures of stores in the Arcade Operations business, it will be necessary to closely monitor any decline in demand in the Amusement Equipments business as well following voluntary suspension of operations on the part of the hall operators. Meanwhile, the Company will revise its development process for content production, concentrating its ingenuity and knowhow to minimize any adverse impact.
Nonetheless, the core Digital Contents business can be expected to continue to contribute results even in a situation where retail stores around the world have temporarily suspended operations because the
Company has successfully advanced digital sales.
The statement itself isn’t that shocking. It’s also worth noting that the report as a whole stated that they are shifting their focus to more heavily support digital sales. This comes from sales figures pre-COVID-19, and the report does an extensive breakdown as to why they believe this is the direction the company should go in. In short, the numbers were already pointing in the direction of digital sales over physical media. The pandemic is just pushing that along.
Then there’s that line about concerns, “on content production through work-from-home.” Unfortunately, the text report itself doesn’t go into a lot of detail on that front. There’s a quick line about, “revis[ing] the development process,” but that’s about it. Fortunately, the report is also paired with a press conference. Please note that the presentation is only in Japanese. I do not speak Japanese. I am heavily relying on Japanese media sources’ translations for this next part. I’ve verified the gist of the presentation with several Japanese outlets, but the ultimate source for these quotes is this post on 4gamer.net. To quote their translated report:
The impact of the declaration of an emergency due to the spread of the new coronavirus infection on Capcom’s business was explained at the end of the earnings announcement. According to Kenkichi Nomura, who is the Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Capcom, the company is currently shifting employees to work from home or to wait at home, which reduces their strength in the core game development business. It is said that it is in the state of doing.
In addition, even if the emergency declaration is lifted, it will take some time to return to full operation considering the risk of infection, which will affect the development of large titles scheduled for release in the fiscal year ending March 2021. May affect. There are multiple planned titles, and all of them are scheduled to be released in the second half of the year, so they will aim to release them as planned by reviewing each development process.
So, good news and bad news from that announcement. The good news is that Capcom is planning to release several large titles in the upcoming year. All of them planned to be released in the second half of the fiscal year. Given recent rumors surrounding the release of a Resident Evil 4 remake and Resident Evil 8, chances are that they fall into this category. The bad news is that the pandemic is already effecting development. As Kenkichi Nomura so mildly put it, employees are either working from home or, “wait[ing] at home.” That means furloughed. As time goes by, the chances that these titles will be able to reach their previously set dates is unlikely. While he does state that they will, “aim to release them as planned,” it’s worth weighing the likeliness of this optimism against the facts. He wouldn’t be the first head of a major company (or country) to try to present an optimistic view of the months to come despite evidence to the contrary.
The big takeaway from the article is this: while we will still see Resident Evil 8 announced in the future (if it exists, which it probably does), it might not be as soon as we all hoped. Given the fact that the game hasn’t even been officially announced, Capcom is under no obligation to upset fans by letting them know there will be a delay. Of course, the nightmare scenario is that it gets silently cancelled due to budgetary constraints. Budget is generally set at the start of a project, and the longer it goes the more expensive it is to make. Even furloughing workers has a ton of cost, as they might seek new employment and hiring replacements is a financial drain. And while Capcom is certainly doing their best to shift to a work-from-home model, there’s no telling how smooth this transition has been or at what capacity they are operating.
While I certainly hope to hear a lot more about Resident Evil 8 soon, fans should be prepared for delays. Even if they announced it tomorrow, chances are the pandemic would still force a prolonged release. That’s just how it is. No one wants this to be happening. And as a fan myself, I’d rather Capcom take the time to make the best product possible than force the product to be launched in time for the next fiscal report.