For this week's edition of "Game On," The Fly reached out to several video game developers to ask how companies are handling the COVID-19 pandemic and if having everyone work from home has had any noticeable impacts to their business.
PARADOX: Jesse Henning, public relations manager at Sweden's Paradox Interactive (PRXXF), told The Fly that the company behind "Crusader Kings" and "Cities: Skylines" adopted a work-from-home strategy over a month ago, and that all of its studios globally are "doing their part to keep their teams safe." "So much of our work can be done online that we've mostly been able to maintain normal productivity, though this situation is obviously still challenging from an IT perspective and in trying to keep teams collaborating and communicating effectively," he said. "While it's still far too early to tell what the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be (as we can't begin to guess when the global situation will change), we expect Paradox to remain at high performance, and we hope our games are providing some comfort to our fans sheltering at home."
SUPERGIANT: Greg Kasavin of "Hades" and "Pyre" developer Supergiant said that the company continuing development work as scheduled. "For what it's worth, our team has been working together from our homes since early March and continuing on with developing Hades in Early Access with intent to launch our v1.0 of the game later this year," he told The Fly.
BONUSXP: Dave Pottinger, CEO of "Stranger Things 3: The Game" studio BonusXP, told The Fly that the company has been working from home since early March and that the change was "not a huge immediate shift" for everyone. "Bonus has always done work-from-home on Fridays," Pottinger noted. "We also have seven full time employees [out of 41] that are out of our immediate area and work from home permanently. So you could say we've been practicing for the last 8 years. Of course, one day a week at home is not everyday. We do a lot of studio activities to keep people engaged in attempts to stave off cabin fever. With all the extra non-development efforts and meetings, I think we're probably 80% effective compared to being in the office. We are happy with that all things considered. Even though our state is starting to open up, we are going to remain closed for the next month in the name of science and safety. Longer term, I think it will take us the next six to nine months to get fully back to normal assuming there is not a resurgence and subsequent need to go back to WFH. We don't really foresee any huge long term impacts, though."
BLUE MANCHU: Jonathan Chey, founder and CEO of "Void Bastards" developer Blue Manchu, said that his studio has been "largely unaffected" by the pandemic, as the company has just moved its small team in Canberra, Australia home instead of working in the office. "We also work remotely with international team-members and that bit hasn't changed at all! I wouldn't expect any long term impacts on our business other than effects we all suffer as a result of any potential long term downturn in the global economy [and games tend to be pretty resilient to that anyway]," he added.
11 BIT STUDIOS: In addition, Pawel Miechowski, partnerships manager at "Frostpunk" developer 11 bit studios, said, "The IT team at 11 bit studios has made a miracle work to move us all to home offices without any major issues so we continue to work smoothly from homes. The biggest issue now is the communication because what used to be a question asked to a colleague behind the desk now turns into a skype / slack call for 15 minutes. So we just definitely communicate more now via calls, than we used to do, but other than that, the work goes fine. The long-term impacts is something I really can't predict. In January no one would predict any economical collapse and now many countries are suffering solid recession. On the other hand, digital tech companies seem to be the ones getting the smallest damage. People are staying home and they still need some form of entertainment so streaming services and games seem like a good option. However, what will happen when people lose their jobs and can't afford games anymore? The economical collapse will hurt all businesses all around the world. I just hope sooner than later the economies will go back on track. It's also quite probable that post-virus reality will be different [if it comes someday!] with different sanitary regime, but still the economies will have to adjust. But to me predicting what can happen is like fortune-telling with a crystal ball. We're just doing our work and developing the best games we can."
"Game On" is The Fly's weekly recap of the stories powering up or beating down video game stocks.
Keywords: video games, game on, paradox, bonusxp, supergiant, 11 bit studios, blue manchu, covid-19, coronavirus