Game developers in Shanghai hit by Chinese lockdown and food crisis
For the last few days, Genshin Impact player have speculated on how extended lockdowns and food crises in Shanghai have impacted the game’s development. The promised Teapot event was never released and the Serenitea housing system was in extended maintenance mode since early April. my box has now confirmed that the extended lockdown in Shanghai is taking its toll on HoYoverse and other Chinese game developers.
Shanghai was there Extended Covid-19 lockdowns since March 28 due to national government strict zero covid policy. Have the city’s case numbers over 27,000 peopleWhich Reuters dubbed China’s “worst Covid-19 outbreak since the virus first emerged in Wuhan.” So was the city struggling to feed its 25 million residents due to shortage of delivery staff, quarantine regulations and bottlenecks in the supply chain.
There are signs that the ongoing lockdown is negatively impacting Chinese developers. Shanghai is one of the largest game development hubs in the country. In addition to local companies such as Hoyoverse and TencentThe city is also home to western AAA studios such as Ubisoft, EA and Activision Blizzard.
Jingtong Zhu, publishing manager at a Chinese game company, tells the story my box that gaming isn’t being hit as hard as other industries right now, but “many” people in gaming are worried about getting groceries or catching the coronavirus. The government provides residents with free vegetables, but some of their peers are struggling to prepare raw ingredients without a kitchen. She said large companies usually deliver groceries to employees who need supplies, but deliveries are being significantly delayed by the lockdown.
Travis Ryan is a game developer living and working in Shanghai. His work on the indie mobile game Mr Traffic was relatively unaffected as his studio was already remote. However, he told my box that his life felt like “house arrest without parole.”
Unable to leave our apartments, elevators disabled, outside doors chained. I navigate emergency stairwells, trade goods between neighbors during the day, train as best I can at night… away from vigilant security guards (played for years Solid metal gear good use!). It’s a stress sustained by a daily routine of testing and checking [the] the latest virus numbers, trying to understand the latest guidelines and blocking time for “group buying” of groceries…all while homeschooling two kids without the outdoor break.
Lockdown is like an unbalanced roguelike. And this is how it works: All residents of the residential complex have to stay at home – seven days in their apartment, then seven days with the right to walk within the complex. Everyone tests frequently for COVID and if someone tests positive it’s game over – the liberty clock resets to zero and everyone has to spend seven days at home again, then seven days with the right to stretch their legs. On the 14th day, if no one has tested positive, you are free to roam past the site gates, but not beyond the county lines. And don’t worry, the friendly tone of police radios and barrage of megaphone shouts will let you know when you’re straying too close to the border.
Despite the inconveniences of the lockdown, Ryan has been optimistic about the sense of community he says has developed around the joint struggles in Shanghai. People in his neighborhood have dressed up for coronavirus tests, performed balcony stunts, edited videos and posted memes on the internet.
He added that developers like Bilibili, NetEase, Riot, and Microsoft supported employees with mentoring packages, offered culinary lessons to younger developers, and restricted meetings so employees could spend time with their families. Ryan was optimistic the industry would “weather the storm” but that larger companies could see some change as employees seek “a change of scenery”.
On April 1, HoYoverse told my box that his physical office would be closed until the 5th. On Tuesday, the studio made available my box with the following statement:
Our Shanghai team is now working from home and doing our best to organize all online work. During this special time, we also provided the team members in Shanghai with the necessary supplies. While distance can present challenges in communication and day-to-day tasks, protecting the health and safety of team members is crucial here.
The lockdown could explain why the limited-time event ‘Western Spices‘ the official was quietly removed from the roadmap Genshin Impact Account tweeted on Wednesday. The event relied on Serenitea’s case mechanics, which are still undergoing lengthy maintenance.
HoYoverse has not yet announced when players will be able to access all of the game’s case features again. As an apology, a special housing currency will continue to be sent to all players for each week maintenance continues.