How Does the Tragedy in Japan Affect Gaming Companies?
Japan has been struck with a massive tragedy in the past several hours. What started as a huge earthquake quickly followed with a devastating tsunami that claimed homes, farms, cars, and most importantly, lives. Many areas in Japan were completely destroyed, and the people who weren't killed or lost in the disaster evacuated to safer ground. It's a disheartening situation, and all of us here at GameZone will keep the people of Japan in our thoughts, prayers, and well wishes.
Over the last few hours, many business buildings have been closed down or destroyed. Sony, for example, has closed all six of its branches within the area of the disaster. Katsuhiro Harada, famed producer of the Tekken franchise, has reported that his office was in complete ruins as a result of the quake and subsequent aftershocks. What does this spell for game publishers and developers in Japan? Though numerous individuals in the gaming industry such as Fumito Ueda (The Last Guardian), Suda 51 (No More Heroes), and Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear Solid) have alerted fans via Twitter that they're doing all right, the severity of the earthquake and tsunami leave many questions unanswered.
Will the destruction that laid waste to numerous cities stall the development of certain highly anticipated titles? Team ICO, for example, is headquartered in Japan, and although Ueda has stated that he was unharmed, there has to be concern for both he and his loved ones. This concern can result in a number of things happening, from the company delaying the game until everything has settled down to prolonging the release until conditions in Japan return to normal. Grasshopper Manufacture (led by Suda 51) is based in Tokyo, and the company's current work on Shadows of the Damned could suffer a direct impact as a result of the recent disaster.
Unfortunately, with no further news from key people in the industry, gamers can only speculate. Will pending releases be delayed? The aforementioned Shadows of the Damned was slated to launch on June 7, but with the horrible occurrence that struck Japan over 10 hours ago, are we bound to see that and many other upcoming games put on the "to be announced" list? With the damage that has plagued Japan, will gamers have to wait a longer period of time before Japan-made titles launch?
Even more importantly, will any game companies based in Japan be forced to close for an indefinite amount of time, affecting gamers, the industry, and the companies themselves in the process? It's a saddening thought, especially for those of us who respect developers, publishers, designers, and all of the personnel involved in making a game. The futures of these individuals are now unclear. Though there is plenty of money to be made in the gaming industry, how will today's events affect the economic stability of the medium? I sincerely hope that many of the games we're all looking forward to are postponed rather than canceled due to the extreme circumstances at hand, but it would be selfish for gamers to be upset about game delays when people's lives, well-being, and futures have taken a direct hit from the events that transpired in Japan.
To the game makers, citizens, tourists, business owners, children, and animals in Japan, stay safe. You're in our thoughts.