The ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic has hit the video game industry in a major way, most notably resulting in the postponement of the Game Developers Conference last week. As a response to the virus spreading to Washington’s King County, Microsoft and Bungie, both of which have offices in the area, have decided to enact work-from-home policies in an effort to keep their office workers safe.
In a message sent yesterday, Microsoft executive vice president Kurt DelBene encouraged employees in the company’s Redmond and Bay Area offices to work from home until March 25 if possible. Roles that require onsite work, such as in data centers and retail locations, are not included in this plan, but there are exceptions for those who are above 60 years old, pregnant, or otherwise at risk due to underlying health conditions.
Microsoft “will continue to implement the CDC guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing” those locations, DelBene said.
Bungie, whose headquarters are located in Bellevue, Washington, followed suit today with a statement of its own. With the threat of coronavirus growing in the region, Bungie says it has implemented a “remote work infrastructure” to both ensure employee safety and maintain development, specifically on Destiny 2 and its upcoming downloadable content.
“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,” Bungie’s statement reads. “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.”
This new work-from-home policy extends to every Bungie employee, but the studio doesn’t foresee any changes to the release of Destiny 2 expansions Season of the Worthy on March 10 and Trials of Osiris on March 13.
King County, located in central Washington, includes some of the state’s largest cities, including Seattle, Bellevue, Kent, and Redmond. Since the coronavirus’ arrival in the area, 31 people have been infected and nine have died.
Kotaku has contacted Seattle-area firms Nintendo and Valve about how they plan to address the King County coronavirus outbreak in their respective offices in Redmond and Bellevue.
Update: March 6, 2020, 10:13 am: Nintendo will let many of its U.S. employees work from home as well. In a statement to Kotaku, a rep for the company said: “Nintendo of America has taken the precautionary step to allow NOA employees in the states of California and Washington the opportunity to work from home. The safety and wellbeing of our employees is our top priority. We are continuing to closely monitor COVID-19 developments, and share our concerns and support for those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.”