director Masahiro Sakurai has said that development on the game’s next DLC fighters may have to go on hold indefinitely while Japan and the rest of the world struggle with COVID-19.Sakurai explained in his latest Famitsu magazine column (translated by IGN Japan) that just one patient at developer Sora’s office would prevent any work on new Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC.“If someone is found to be infected, the entire building will be closed down and development will be halted altogether,” he said.
In light of this, Sakurai explained that there was little point in announcing who the next fighter is, as they may not be able to follow through with plans. “Even if we did theoretically announce a new fighter, it’s possible that development would not continue as planned,” he explained.
“Novel Coronavirus has cast a long shadow on game production,” he added. “Various software may be delayed or cancelled, but there’s nothing we can do about it. If people aren’t at work, then of course nothing will proceed as planned.”
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Many studios around the world now have staff working from home, allowing development to proceed while also allowing the recommended social-distancing tactics of pandemic prevention to play out. It appears from Sakurai’s comments that staff on the Super Smash Bros. project may not be currently able to work at home, or at least that move would severely impede development.
So far news of game delays have been minimal – Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Cyberpunk 2077 are still on track to hit their intended release dates – but the events side of gaming has been severely impacted, including the cancellation of E3 2020 and the potential cancellation of Gamescom.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Entertainment Writer. You can follow him on Twitter.