Destiny 2 staff told to work remotely to keep season on track (and the novel coronavirus at bay)

Meanwhile, E3's creative director team just quit

You guys are still here?

As the coronavirus has now passed 100,000 cases worldwide, more than just gaming conventions are angling to make sure they aren’t among the list of disease vectors.

Last night, for example, Destiny 2 studio Bungie announced that it is now encouraging its staff to work from home to avoid the risks of gathering. Bungie’s core location is in Seattle, near the home of the largest outbreak in the US. The goal, the studio says, is to keep everyone healthy – and the next season on track.

“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.”

Expect more studios to take this approach. Take-Two’s Strauss Zelnick apparently said as much at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference yesterday. Though he initially downplayed the impact on business, he did concede that remote work might become a reality long-term as a result of the virus.

“I think one of the things that may come out of this if it’s as widespread as I believe it will be, one unexpected consequence is a lot of us who were skeptical about remote work are going to be less skeptical about it,” he said. “I’m one of them by the way. I’m not a big believer in remote work. But I think I may be surprised. I think you are going to see a significant change, maybe a long-lasting change, in business travel.”

E3 has thus far still not been called off because of the virus, in spite of the cancellation of many other gaming events. But yesterday, the company in charge of the convention’s creative direction resigned. Seems like kind of a bad sign?

TwitchCon Amsterdam, meanwhile, became the latest gaming con to close up shop.

If you’re feeling anxious about the virus, it’s understandable – but probably a waste of your time, so turn that energy into making sure you’re doing the basics (like washing your hands and not taking undo risks). That’s the takeaway from both a piece on Kotaku and a retweet from MMO legend Raph Koster.

More on the impact of the virus on gaming:

Source: Bungie, GIbiz

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Danny Smith

And how many days in do people sitting as a desk in their most slovenly attire, eating absolute garbage before a significant percentage starts to question why this isn’t done all the time.


Meanwhile I woke up this morning to the news that my state (Maryland) just had 3 confirmed cases 20 minutes from where I live. Wish me luck dudes, it’s on my doorstep.

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Two thoughts…

1. Remote working has become more prevalent, but there’s still a lot of resistance to it. I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes much more common/accepted after a lot of companies discover it’s actually not a bad thing with these moves.

2. E3…ooph. New creative agency drops out 3 months before, makes me think the ESA wants to charge full speed ahead and iam8bit said, “You can, but like fuck WE are.”

With them pulling out, Keighly not going at all, and some serious discussions I know are going on with some big publishers about even showing up, the odds of E3 not happening this year are increasing, which is a double edged sword.

But if it doesn’t happen, the ESA is likely fucked. Because publishers will take the Nintendo approach and do digital press conferences and work with press remotely (remote demos and presentations etc. are all very doable).

And while I don’t think they’ll see the same return as they would for a show floor presence, they’ll likely get 80-90% of that return at a fraction of the cost. And that’ll make dropping those hundreds of thousands/millions on booth space and big buildouts a lot less attractive for next year.

An aside for the Koster bit: I had a rather heated argument with my brother of this, as he was extremely dismissive and casual about the severity and risk of the virus. This isn’t necessarily “PANIC AND FREAK OUT” mode, but it’s definitely “Take this shit seriously, this ain’t no joke” mode. Especially since we have family that would be the most impacted (older, compromised immune systems etc.) and he works in the hospitality sector. He’s a bit of an idiot at times (thought that the mortality rate for the flu was around 20x higher than it actually was).

Don’t panic, but don’t sleep on this. Be cautious. Be safe. Be prepared (stock up on toilet paper!). Protect yourself and those around you that you care about. Those are good, interesting tweets with solid data. The EU growth curve (minus the UK) is fascinating and there’s a lot to unpack there, but for far better minds than mine.