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The Outer Worlds delayed on Nintendo Switch due to coronavirus impact

Chinese developer Virtuos, which is in charge of the port, is closed for the time being

Artwork from The Outer Worlds Image: Obsidian Entertainment/Private Division
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

The Outer Worlds publisher Private Division announced on Twitter Thursday that its Nintendo Switch port will be delayed indefinitely. The port is in development through Chinese team Virtuos Games, which has been closed following the coronavirus outbreak in China. More than 20,000 confirmed cases have been reported, up thousands from only days ago.

“We’re delaying @OuterWorlds 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 tweeted. The Outer Worlds was originally slated for its Nintendo Switch release on March 6. A new date was not given. Private Division said it’s working with Virtuous to “determine an updated development timeline.” A new launch date is expected “shortly.”

The publisher also announced that it’ll also release a physical version of The Outer Worlds for Nintendo Switch.

Virtuos was founded in 2004 in Shanghai — where its largest office remains — though now headquartered in Singapore. Other offices are located in Chengdu, Shanghai, and Xi’an. In late January, the Chinese and Shanghai governments extended the Chinese New Year holidays until Feb. 2 and Feb. 9, respectively. Chinese New Year is public holiday and offices are often closed for a period — but holidays have been extended and offices closed following the coronavirus outbreak. Government-mandated travel restrictions remain in multiple cities.

All three Chinese studios are expected to open on Feb. 10, Virtuos CEO Gilles Langourieux said in a statement on Jan. 31. At that time, it said clients should expect “at least a week’s delay in deliveries.” Langourieux also said all staff “are well and accounted for, with no signs of infection reported” — just “a little stressed by the restrictions imposed to slow down the spread of infection.”

Virtuos has been involved in development on games like Dark Souls Remastered, LA Noire, Heavy Rain, Batman: Return to Arkham, and art for Uncharted 4 and Quantum Break. Its clients include Activision, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Sony, and Square Enix, among others.

The new coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China late last year. Though the outbreak remains centered in the Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, it’s spread to multiple countries, including the United States. On Jan. 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus outbreak in China a global health emergency. There are more than 28,353 confirmed cases worldwide — most of which are in mainland China — according to the WHO. More than 500 people have died from the virus; all of the deaths, except one, have occurred in China.

The games industry is one of many impacted by closures and quarantines in China. Nintendo said it’s expecting delays on its Nintendo Switch consoles shipped to Japan. Likewise, multiple esports events in the region have been cancelled, including a League of Legends event, a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive meet, and the Overwatch League’s first international matches.

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