(Updated 3/17/20 and 3/18/20 to include statements from Ubisoft and Bethesda on new work from home policies.)
The response to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has seen many typically on-location video game studios switch to instead support entirely work from home teams in an effort to prevent the virus’ spread.
More sizable studios -- Rockstar Games, CD Projekt Red, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and Bethesda -- have now put policies in place to allow developers to continue their usual day-to-day office activities from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
The exact steps each team has to take to do so vary from studio to studio, but each of the recent four have released statements to announce the work from home transitions and talk a little about how those policies look for their teams.
At EA, staff in North America, Europe and Australia is “strongly recommended” to work from home until April 1 to “help limit potential exposure to coronavirus and minimize the social spread of the illness.”
“We’ve been planning for business continuity, ensuring that our people have the support and resources they need to work from home,” reads EA’s statement. “Our IT and Security teams have scaled up our remote working systems, including deployment of VPN capacity upgrades, so that our studio and development work can be continued from home, in addition to standard business operations.”
“We will only have very limited staff for business-critical functions at these sites -- everyone else will be working remotely. Our senior leaders, site leaders and IT teams have been working together to help us prepare for this. We’ve also taken steps to ensure that the vendors and contractors that provide services on-site at our facilities will continue to be paid, even if they’re not able to work from home in their roles.”
CD Projekt Red has likewise spent the last few weeks working to set its developers up to work from home, and has this week fully switched to remote work for the foreseeable future.
“Over the past week we have been adapting to the situation and gradually rolling out preventative measures across our entire organization,” reads today’s statement from CDPR. “We’ve also been upgrading equipment & infrastructure and working towards enabling our employees to work remotely, from the safety of their homes. Today, as a result of that preparation, CD Projekt Red switches to full remote work for as long as it is needed. We think this will grant every team member the highest level of personal health safety.”
Similarly, Rockstar Games has rolled out remote work policies to its studios, and reaffirms in a statement that online features in its games will run as usual despite the multi-studio shift.
“In the interest of reducing the possible impact of COVID-19, Rockstar Games has implemented work from home policies across our international offices and studios,” reads part of Rockstar’s statement. “After significant research and consultation with our teams around the world, we began rolling our remote work solutions worldwide across the past week, and we are confident we have a robust system in place for our teams to continue their work with a minimum of disruption.”
Ubisoft's statement notes that developers in affected regions have switched over to work from home, and promises the shift won't affect its online games in any way.
“As the situation around COVID-19 evolves, it is changing the daily lives of many of us in the Ubisoft community and the world at large," reads a portion of that full statement. "We are also adapting to new ways of working to ensure you can keep playing. The health and well-being of Ubisoft team members is our top priority and first responsibility. In recent weeks, we have been following official guidance and implementing work-from-home policies in all affected regions, and will continue to monitor and react to the situation. We’d like to thank our teams, who are doing their best to make sure that our online games, services and support continue functioning with minimal disruption, despite the challenging circumstances."
Bethesda has told its employees to work from home where possible, and will also continue to pay those who don't currently have the necessary facilities to work remotely.
In a statement posted on Twitter, the company reassured fans that its catalog of live titles, which includes Fallout 76 and The Elder Scrolls Online, will be unaffected by the change in working conditions.
"Bethesda Softworks is committed to the health and well-being of everyone in our family of global development studios and offices. Most of our employees around the globe now have the capability to work remotely from the safety of their homes," wrote the company. "Those who do not have accommodations to work from home can stay home and will be paid for regular work hours while we work to make telecommuting possible for them."