- The Xbox Series X launch hasn’t been delayed because of the coronavirus, but things are still in flux, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer said.
- The safety and security of Microsoft teams and the quality of the product come first, so the COVID-19 pandemic could still alter the original launch plans for the console.
- The exec said they’re not currently in a situation that would suggest the planned release date will be delayed, but he didn’t specify what that date is and it’s clear that safety is being prioritized before releasing on time.
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The Xbox Series X is one of the hottest products of the year, and during normal times it would be a priority for gamers and parents this holiday season. However, 2020 is hardly a regular year, with the novel coronavirus outbreak having significantly altered day-to-day life. The streets are empty in many countries around the world, as people are urged to stay indoors for as long as possible. Social distancing is one thing that works against COVID-19, as the virus can’t spread as fast if most people avoid contact with others. But lockdown and quarantine measures impact the way people work. Not everybody can work from home, and millions of people have lost their jobs in a matter of weeks. These factors could hinder the launch of the Xbox Series X and any other product for that matter. Xbox boss Phil Spencer said in a new interview that the launch schedule hasn’t changed. Series X should still hit stores this winter. At the same time, however, he made it clear that there are no guarantees at this point. The safety of his teams comes first. The quality of the finished product is also important. These factors could alter the launch schedule of Series X.
The exec sat down with IGN to address various questions about the new console, and the novel coronavirus pandemic came up early in the interview. Spencer said that supply chains are coming back up in China, but that’s not the only thing that matters when it comes to launching the new Xbox on time.
“I’ll say that the thing I’m going to put front and center is safety and security of the team, “Spencer said. “There’s 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 kind of a near term either financial or product gain, he said.
“I’d say pragmatically the supply chains in China have started to come back. I think we’ve seen that in the news that China was obviously earlier in dealing with C-19 before it spread and I think that we can see in the factories and stuff we’re starting to get reports back from them and that that’s working for us,” he said.
But it’s not just manufacturing the actual hardware in China that could be problematic for Microsoft. Development now continues from home, Spencer said, and the teams are stretched. Depending on how the management of the pandemic progresses, the console’s release could certainly be delayed.
“The two big issues we’re kind of monitoring right now, you know, building a video game from home — a large distributed team of hundreds of people — is not easy,” Spencer explained. “Video games as we know right now are big, and there’s huge massive asset bases that each one of these games have and how you transition I think all those things are… we’re just kind of living.”
Testing the console is also essential, Spencer said. “We want to make sure that we’ve got the right amount of time for the platform tech that we’re putting in place to get all the testing done,” he said. “So, we’ve had to move a lot of that testing in the homes. I’d say things right now aren’t easy. I think things are stretched. I can feel it in the teams, they’re stretched.” That said, Spencer added that they have “nothing right now that says [they’re] not going to make the dates” they’ve been planning, but things could change. “This is kind of real-time stuff, and I’m going to put the safety and security of the teams at the top along with the quality product,” he said. “I don’t want to rush a product if it’s not ready.” Spencer didn’t actually reveal the planned release date for the new Xbox.
Eyes are “wide open” at Microsoft right now about the whole COVID-19 situation, Spencer said. He added that there is no Plan B in the works for the moment regarding a possible delay. Spencer seemed to indicate that he’s not a fan of a partial launch of the new Xbox, where only certain territories will get it. And he also explained that software is just as essential as hardware, and that might be another factor affecting the Series X launch. However, he added that he won’t delay the launch of the console for any specific title. Also, he said that they’ve yet to decide whether some games could be launched for Xbox One if the Series X does get delayed.
IGN’s full interview with Spencer follows below: