As hundreds died and thousands more were infected, the coronavirus outbreak took a small detour this week to impact the world of video games. Nintendo has announced that the release of its forthcoming Animal Crossing: New Horizons special edition Switch console will be delayed by an unknown amount, as will the production of standard Switch units, joy-cons, and Ring Fit Adventure packages, along with other miscellaneous Switch hardware manufactured in China. Meanwhile, Take-Two Interactive subsidy Private Division announced that the Switch port of The Outer Worlds, currently in development at Virtuos Games, won’t hit store shelves until sometime after April, instead of sometime in March.
“We’re delaying [The Outer Worlds] on Nintendo Switch due to the coronavirus impacting the Virtuos team working on the port, to provide them enough time to finish development,” Private Division said on Twitter. “We’ll now be releasing the physical version on cartridge. Once we have a new launch date, we’ll let you know!” Previously, boxed copies of the Switch version of The Outer Worlds were to contain a voucher for the digital version, rather than a real cartridge.
Private Division continued, “to clarify, the team at Virtuos is ok, but their office has remained closed during this time. We’re working with the team to determine an updated development timeline, and will share more regarding a new launch date shortly.” Take-Two’s newly released quarterly fiscal report reflects The Outer Wilds‘ push into the next fiscal year, but includes no further discussion of the delay.
Over in Club Nintendo, the company says that it’s doing its best to minimize the delay caused by the virus on its largely Chinese supply chain. The Animal Crossing: New Horizons Switch, along with its associated joy-cons, dock, and carrying case, were all supposed to go on sale in Japan this Saturday, February 8, but are now delayed indefinitely. Nintendo has given no indication as to whether the special edition console will still make its North American launch date of March 13.
Nintendo also expects shortages for normal Switch units and their associated accessories, as they’re constructed by many of the same supply lines that the virus has derailed. Aside from The Outer Worlds, the only other Switch game to be affected by the outbreak (so far, at least) is Ring Fit Adventure, which comes with a joy-con ring peripheral manufactured in China.
According to the World Health Organization, 28,276 cases of 2019-nCoV have been confirmed across the world, with 28,060 in China. The death toll for the virus currently sits at 563, and in an attempt to contain the outbreak, China has quarantined the entire province of Hubei and its 60 million people; the largest quarantine in modern history. Hubei, which contains the city of Wuhan (and its 11 million citizens) where the 2019-nCoV virus was first discovered, also contains two thirds of all confirmed 2019-nCoV cases for the entire world. In the early days of the outbreak, the local government of Wuhan worked to censor online reports of the virus by doctors who initially encountered it, one of whom has since died from his exposure.
Less than one percent of all confirmed 2019-nCoV cases exist outside of China.
Correction: This post originally referred to COVID-19 as the “Wuhan coronavirus,” which was a bad call on my part. World Health Organization guidelines specifically forbid the use of location names when classifying a disease, in order to prevent the spread of dangerous misinformation or inferences about specific locations and the people that live there. I regret having contributed to the growing stigma that Chinese- and other Asian-Americans are already facing, and have ensured that future coverage of the virus on Fanbyte will not contain this phrase. I’m also making these changes proactively and voluntarily, because we can always do better.