Xbox Series X Production During a Pandemic Detailed
“Having Halo and an Xbox console launch at the same time was something that was going to be a cool moment for us,"
In 2020, the world fell to its knees due to the coronavirus pandemic as cases began to spread across the world. In March, many countries threw themselves into lockdown, seeing companies of all types being forced to close down unless otherwise essential. This was the case for video game manufacturers and studios, and in a new Bloomberg feature, the production of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S is detailed.
“Everyone has a plan until a global pandemic punches you in the face,” Marketing Chief at Xbox, Jerret West tells Bloomberg. And really, no one, not even the government had planned on how to manage a pandemic that has seen 10.3 million new cases and 240k deaths according to The New York Times.
With employees working from home due to Microsoft closing doors, the company had to find ways for employees to still work efficiently on personal hardware. Bloomberg reports that Microsoft shifted to using cloud computing tools alongside improving its network infrastructure. But it was also game development that took a hit, as specific roles were reliant on equipment and tech that were only available in their studios.
It’s detailed that Microsoft repurposed its xCloud dev app that allowed for testing and creating games over the internet. It was tinkered with and allowed teams to access high-end hardware at the office, from the comfort of their homes. “Nearly 60 studios, including some of Microsoft’s own […] used the tool to develop and test their games. Microsoft also used it to fix bugs with the hardware.”
Employees at Turn 10 Studios, the studio behind Forza Motorsport had been working from home as well, but when it became apparent that it still wasn’t safe to return to the office environment, Alan Hartman, Vice President of the studio told employees to go to the office and grab what they need and take them back home. “I had people literally piling hundreds of pounds of equipment into the trunks and backseats of their cars.” Despite this, the next Forza Motorsport game still doesn’t have a release date, as Hartman explains, “It’s like molasses in the gears; it [the pandemic] just slows everything down,”
Phil Spencer, head of Xbox told Bloomberg “Having Halo and an Xbox console launch at the same time was something that was going to be a cool moment for us,”. Halo Infinite was due to be a launch title, but the game was delayed, and recently lost its director. However, Phil Spencer feels the new release period for Halo Infinite could benefit the company as Bloomberg writes, “The new timing for Halo Infinite could work in Microsoft’s favor, Spencer said, if it can help sell more consoles when supply catches up with demand.”
The Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S has officially been launched, and you can read the full feature on Bloomberg.