Despite the launch of Destiny 2‘s next major content patch being less than a week away, Bungie has converted its entire workforce of 600 to a work-from-home model in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 amongst its employees. Bungie says that it will “eventually re-integrate employees back into our local offices once the threat of the virus has lowered,” but clearly has no idea when that might be, just like the rest of us. Bungie is headquartered a stone’s throw from Seattle in Bellevue, Washington, which also resides in King County, where the coronavirus’ concentration is at its highest in the state.
“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,” Bungie said today in an update. “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.”
As of today, there are 70 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Washington state, up from 39 cases just yesterday, with 51 in King County, 18 in Snohomish County, and a single case in Grant County, according to local ABC affiliate KOMO. Governor Jay Inslee today declared a state of emergency due to the outbreak, which empowers the state government to order Washington private health insurance companies to waive co-pays and deductibles related to COVID-19 testing. The order was issued shortly after the announcement.
Meanwhile, Bungie is confident in its ability to keep the Destiny 2 ship afloat, though it does concede that there may be some growing pains. “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,” Bungie said. “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.”
Undeterred by this enormous and unprecedented change to its core business structure, Bungie also this afternoon published its weekly This Week at Bungie post, which outlines further deeply specific changes coming in next week’s update, in addition to revealing next season’s fantastic Warlock Eververse armor set, Light be praised.
Considering the totally bang-up job that the United States federal government has done to prepare for and contain the spread of COVID-19 so far, Bungie may not be the last company to enact a fully work-from-home infrastructure out of necessity. This also gives us a look at what some corporations may have to resort to in a worst-case climate change scenario some decades down the road, which has not become any less likely in recent years.
Correction: This post originally referred to COVID-19 as the “Wuhan coronavirus,” which was a bad call on my part. World Health Organization guidelines specifically forbid the use of location names when classifying a disease, in order to prevent the spread of dangerous misinformation or inferences about specific locations and the people that live there. I regret having contributed to the growing stigma that Chinese- and other Asian-Americans are already facing, and have ensured that future coverage of the virus on Fanbyte will not contain this phrase. I’m also making these changes proactively and voluntarily, because we can always do better.