You'll be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t been affected by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. These last few weeks, countries have begun calling back citizens and closing borders, canceling events as big as March Madness to small local Smash weeklies, panic buying of essential goods like sanitizer and toilet paper, and closure of schools, places of worship, cultural centers, and more have been happening. Social distancing and sudden closures have become the norm and the threat of a global recession looms on the horizon. For many, this pandemic will have long-lasting physical, emotional, and economical issues for years to come. Japan in particular hasn’t been hit as hard as the other countries, but it’s already in an unofficial recession and many companies have started working remotely including Nintendo. Personally, I still report in for work due to lack of COVID-19 cases in my area, but my activity and health are monitored by my employers. This pandemic has obviously affected the gaming industry and gamers as a whole. For many, gaming is a reprieve from the issues and problems of the world but even gaming been impacted by the pandemic. So as Smash fans, we obviously are looking forward to Fighter’s Pass Vol 2 which is set to run during 2020 and into 2021. Recent news has surfaced that Fighter’s Pass Vol 2 could possibly be delayed due to this pandemic.
According to early translations provided by our very own @PushDustIn, Smash director Masahiro Sakurai wrote in the recent Famitsu article that the virus has impacted the development of the Fighter’s Pass Vol. 2 characters.
Soo it looks like excerpts of Sakurai's column might've leaked a full day early. It's about COVID-19, and the potential impact of Smash's development.— Will (PushDustIn) 🔜TGS (@PushDustIn) March 17, 2020
Take it with a grain of salt as it's not the full column so things might not be fully contextualized.
Sakurai had plans to present information about new fighter(s) to a publisher(s), but that's been put on hold now.— Will (PushDustIn) 🔜TGS (@PushDustIn) March 17, 2020
If someone at the office is found to have COVID-19, then the whole building would be shut down and development would be put on hold.
There is a possibility that Nintendo will announce the new fighter(s) as planned, but no development work will be done.— Will (PushDustIn) 🔜TGS (@PushDustIn) March 17, 2020
COVID-19 will have a huge impact on a lot of games, and a lot of titles will be impacted.
All this is via:https://t.co/8iA8zALKxn
Mr. Sakurai went on to explain that plans to present at least one of the fighters to publishers has since been suspended. While Fighter #6 is currently unknown, the early translations suggest that the new fighter might be revealed as planned, but there won’t be any further development done during the pandemic. This is potentially due to the office working remotely and a reduction of staff to only essential workers in the studio. Additionally, the early translations went on to say that Mr. Sakurai states if one person were found with the virus, the whole building would be closed and development would fully be suspended.
This virus has greatly affected the video game industry most notably by causing the cancellation of this year's E3 in June. Midnight releases of Doom Eternal and Animal Crossing New Horizons have also been cancelled. This also greatly impacts gaming studios whose staff typically work in enclosed spaces which is a prime virus-spreading territory. Mr. Sakurai didn’t explicitly state the Fighters Pass Vol 2 will be delayed, but the fact that development on it will be severely impacted could imply a potential delay. There also has been notable concern over Mr. Sakurai’s personal health, as he has suffered from various issues during the development of Smash for Wii U/3DS and Ultimate. In 2014-15, he suffered calcific tendinitis which negatively affected his ability to work. More recently, he had a bout of food poisoning in which he worked while using IV and also passed out while exercising at a gym just several weeks ago.
This is just an early translation of a leak of the Famitsu article. The full translation will be appended to this article once it's published. The Smashboards Staff would like to take this time to express our hope that everyone stays healthy and safe during this period. Please exercise caution and observe quarantine protocols in your area. Your health and that of others are more important than Smash, so please stay vigilant.
Author’s Note: How has this pandemic impacted you? It’s certainly a scary time, and the uncertainty of the upcoming months puts everyone on edge. Please take care of your health and observe social distancing and proper hygiene behavior. We all hope the best for the Smash Ultimate development team and Masahiro Sakurai.