Both Bungie and Microsoft have implemented mandatory home working in a bid to protect staff from COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus.
“Since news of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak appeared a few months back, Bungie leadership has been keeping a close eye on updates to follow the progress of the global containment effort,” the Destiny developer said in a blog update (thanks, GI.biz). “With the recent spread of the virus into the U.S., and with a particular density of cases found in the greater Seattle area (near Bungie HQ), we have been actively working on plans over the last few weeks to ensure the health and safety of our employees and partners, both locally and globally.
“While health and safety are our top priority, we also recognise the importance of maintaining the continuity of our regular Bungie business operations and have rapidly built a remote work infrastructure to best support this. This includes delivering on our current content plans, the maintenance and upkeep of Destiny 2, as well as continuing development of the game.”
The update goes on to confirm that the studio has now “activated this fully remote work infrastructure and policy for all Bungie employees across the globe […] prioritising the safety of our employees and continuing to develop and deliver on a game we love for our community”. The team also promised “to keep players informed […] as much as possible”.
Microsoft has similarly asked that “employees who can work from home to do so” in both Seattle and San Francisco, from now until March 25th, 2020. It also asks staff to cancel all non-essential travel and exercise caution if attending meetings.
The company confirmed it recognised the impact remote working would have on its hourly-paid employees such as catering staff, and therefore has decided that “Microsoft will continue to pay all our vendor hourly service providers their regular pay during this period of reduced service needs. This is independent of whether their full services are needed”.
“We’re committed as a company to making public health our first priority and doing what we can to address the economic and societal impact of COVID-19,” said president, Brad Smith. “We appreciate that what’s affordable for a large employer may not be affordable for a small business, but we believe that large employers who can afford to take this type of step should consider doing so.
“We’re committed to taking additional constructive steps to support the public during this challenging time [… and] we’re exploring how best to move forward in a similar way in other parts of the country and the world that are impacted by COVID-19.”
The Game Developers Conference (GDC) was postponed indefinitely at the end of last week, and while attendees can expect a refund in full and those who had made hotel reservations via the organisation will be able to cancel without penalty, developers who’ve arranged their own accommodation might still be open to cancellation fees. 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.
Kojima Productions, Sony, EA, and Facebook – which owns Oculus – first pulled out of GDC, as did Microsoft, Epic, and Unity. The city of San Francisco – the city that was set to host the upcoming GDC conference next month – had also declared a “local health emergency” over coronavirus. A state of emergency has also be declared in Los Angeles, but at the time of writing, E3 2020 is still scheduled to go ahead.