The the Covid-19 coronavirus spreading in the US, Destiny 2 developers Bungie have reacted to protect their employees and as them to work from home instead of coming into the office. This applies both for their employees in the Seattle area, where Bungie is based, and employees and partners around the world.
This announcement comes as the Covid-19 death toll in Seattle’s state of Washington hits 11 – all but one deaths in the US have come in this state – with the state having 70 cases linked to the coronavirus. Washington is the hardest hit part of the US so far, but there’s concerns that the government have not prepared or reacted quickly enough to the virus. Testing for the virus has been low in comparison to other developed nations, and the Trump administration admitted that they will not meet their goal of delivering 1 million testing kits this week. When the US lacks universal healthcare, there’s also fears that the uninsured will avoid getting tested for fear of being charged and continue to go into work with many jobs not having sick pay, all of which will spread the disease further, especially amongst the poor.
Bungie is one of a number of companies being proactive, having spent the last few weeks setting up the technical backend to enable its employees to work from home and still communicate effectively with each other. While this might have a longer-term impact on content creation, the plan is still to launch Season of the Worthy next week on 10th March and start the Trials of Osiris event on 13th March. They’ll keep the game’s community updated on any changes to the later roadmap as and when they’re necessary.
Here’s their statement in full:
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. 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 recognize 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.
Today, we have activated this fully remote work infrastructure and policy for all Bungie employees across the globe, with the goals of prioritizing the safety of our employees and continuing to develop and deliver on a game we love for our community.
To accompany this policy we have rolled out technical solutions for all employees to be able to maintain communication with one another, as well as to continue working on development and maintaining game-critical functions while working remotely. Our goal is to continue crafting the ever-evolving Destiny universe, while making those behind-the-scenes efforts to keep everything running smoothly invisible to our fans. While there is a possibility that this change could affect our patching cadence in the short term, we will be sure to keep players informed about those schedules as much as possible. Most immediately, we will still be launching Season of the Worthy on March 10, followed by the start of Trials of Osiris on March 13.
Bungie’s approach to the COVID-19 outbreak is designed to react to rapid changes as news dictates, including how we will eventually re-integrate employees back into our local offices once the threat of the virus has lowered. While this is a big change for Bungie, we look at the challenge as an opportunity to stretch our ability to create and deliver the same kind of quality gaming experiences we always have in a new way.
Be well, take care of yourself, and see you online.
The effects of Covid-19 have been rippling out through the games industry over the last month or so, most visibly for games conventions such as PAX East, GDC, EVE Fanfest and esports events like the Overwatch League and PUBG’s PBS Berlin. PAX East saw a number of larger companies like Sony and Square Enix backing out, while so many exhibitors cancelled plans to attend GDC that the show has been postponed. We’ve seen the virus affecting manufacturing for Valve Index headsets and Nintendo Switch consoles, and even a delay to the release of The Outer Worlds on Switch.
There’s now big question marks over the coming year for the industry. Large international public events are liable to be cancelled or postponed, which means the already beleaguered E3 could be called off and Sony and Microsoft will be hesitant to hold large scale press conferences for their next generation PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X in the next few months. Of course, their plans for next gen are also taking a knock as console production could be impacted and the cost of parts increased.
So yeah, we’re definitely living in interesting times.