Epic Games have announced an extension of Fortnite Chapter 2 – Season 2, as the company deals with the impact that the coronavirus pandemic and working from home is having on their ability to produce new content for their popular battle royale shooter.
Where Season 2 was originally planned to run until 30th April, this has now been extended into May, and Epic will continue to support it with new challenges, bonus XP and other surprises. However, Season 3 has been pushed back and is now expected to launch on 4th June.
Though Epic didn’t explicitly mention the coronavirus’ impact, it’s almost certain to be a major factor in this delay. There’s obviously a magnitude of order more work that goes into creating a new season for Fortnite, compared to adding new challenges and gameplay tweaks to an existing one. Epic change up the theme of their game every few months, with Season 2 having a campy Bond-esque spy thriller theme to it. That came with a lavishly produced introductory video, some fundamental changes to the game’s map, a slew of new character models and skins, and plenty more.
Epic Games were criticised this time last year for fostering a culture of intense ‘crunch’ within the studio, in order to keep producing quickfire updates and major seasons of content for the game. It’s not clear if those reports have led to a shift in working patterns for their employees, but a change to working from home during the coronavirus pandemic would naturally introduce difficulties to maintain the same workflow. It feels like a positive step for Epic to introduce some slack in their release schedule like this.
Developers around the world are facing similar challenges. Nintendo have admitted that the pandemic could eventually come to affect the seasonal events in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, while Bungie shifted to working from home just prior to the launch of the Season of the Worthy, meaning they potentially have more time to adapt while developing the next season of content. Meanwhile, it’s more the impact that Covid-19 has on production and distribution of physical copies that has come to affect the launches of games like Final Fantasy VII Remake and The Last of Us Part II.