The first beta for Valorant drops internationally today, but Australians won’t officially be invited yet. And it might take a little while longer than originally envisioned, with the team’s lead producer announcing that the coronavirus pandemic has hit the studio’s testing partners, and their capacity to build “physical data centres” around the world.
Anna Donlan, executive producer at Riot Games on Valorant, explained in a new developer diary how the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down the rollout of Riot’s upcoming 5v5 shooter. While most of the 100-person team working on the game has transitioned to working from home just fine – as have many developers around the world – that hasn’t exactly been the case for Riot’s external partners that work on QA.
QA isn’t just checking for glitches in maps: it also includes doing hardware and compatibility testing, much of which can be difficult to do from a home environment unless you have all the hardware with you. “We rely heavily on our partners for testing Quality, hardware compatibility, performance – these are some of our biggest commitments to you,” Donlan said.
“With these folks also moving to a work-from-home status, our ability to test and fix some of these things has taken a bit of a hit. So yeah, this means we’ll have to make some compromises,” Donlan added.
The biggest effect of the coronavirus, however, has been on the construction on new data centres. Riot are using their own infrastructure, rather than using Google, Microsoft’s Azure, Amazon Web Services or another provider. “Rolling out an infrastructure as ambitious as ours requires a lot of travelling and physical shipping of servers, two things that have definitely been affected by the outbreak.”
“Your ping might not be as good as what we’re aiming for, because physical data centres need to be built and setup, and as I mentioned before, that’s slowed down for us,” the producer added.
The video itself doesn’t provide any information for Australians per se, and is largely more reaching out for understanding. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit studios around the world differently, with some companies able to continue development more breezily than others. In Riot’s case, that’s hit their infrastructure rollout the most, directly impacting players in Russia and Turkey that were hoping to start playing from tomorrow.
Russia and Turkey were set to be included in the first closed beta, but Donlan announced that Riot will only go ahead with the beta for the United States, Canada and Europe, the three countries the company feels the most confident in. Other regions, presumably including Australia and New Zealand down the road, will be added “in the months to come”.
The game is still targeting a launch sometime in the Australian winter. In this environment, however, I wouldn’t keep much faith in a release date for any game that hasn’t already finished development.