Xbox Live and Nintendo Switch Online struggle to meet demand as COVID-19 isolation increases

As many of us are self-isolating and spending more time at home, the infrastructure supporting online play such as Xbox Live and Nintendo Online is sometimes struggling to meet demand.

Xbox Live was the first to experience issues, with players reporting towards the end of last week that they couldn’t access the online features in games, or log in and play at all in some instances. Nintendo Switch Online also reported similar difficulties, with players unable to access the eShop or online play for several hours yesterday (thanks, Eurogamer).

Given the pandemic, it likely comes as no surprise that the effects are global and impacting services worldwide, and there will likely be further connectivity issues over the coming weeks and months. For now, however, normal service has been restored. 

“Yea, usage is up on almost everything,” said Xbox boss Phil Spencer when asked if he’d seen a spike in usage. “Thanks go out to all the Ops/IT teams at all the companies that are working hard to keep everything running smoothly with all going on around them.”

A week ago, organisers of E3 – the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) – insisted it was continuing to “plan for a safe and successful” show later this year whilst “actively assessing” the coronavirus outbreak. Now E3 2020 has been cancelled, as has EGX Rezzed, GDC, and both Mojang and Electronic Arts have cancelled scheduled live events.

Develop:Brighton 2020, however, is still planning to go ahead in June, as is Gamescom.

Bungie, EA, Nintendo and now Rockstar have all implemented homeworking to minimise staff exposure to the virus whilst Pokémon Go developer Niantic has made changes to the game to enable players to continue participating even whilst in self-isolation. BAFTA has also confirmed it’s revising the format on its upcoming Games Awards in light of the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), too. 

A number of publishers have teamed up to create GDC Relief Fund to assist indie devs who may have lost money on paying in advance for the now-cancelled GDC.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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