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EA, Rockstar, others shift to remote working amid pandemic

FIFA publisher also cancels all live events until global situation improves

Original story, March 16, 2020:: Rockstar Games and Electronic Arts are the latest major games firms to send staff home to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Grand Theft Auto developer shared a statement via Twitter, stating work from home policies have now been implemented across all international studios and offices.

Rockstar is confident work on its games will continue with minimal disruption, and both GTA Online and Red Dead Online -- plus their support teams -- will operate as normal.

Meanwhile, Electronic Arts is strongly recommending that all employees in North America, Europe and Australia work remotely until April 1.

According to the publisher's statement, a "very limited" number of staff will continue business-critical functions at key offices, including its Redwood Shores headquarters, while everyone else works from home.

Vendors and contracts that provide on-site services and are unable to work remotely will continue to be paid.

EA shared more info on what it has been doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including travel restrictions implemented in late February and the closure of various offices in countries that have seen the biggest impact.

The Shanghai, Singapore, Seoul and Milan offices have all been closed, with teams told to work remotely.

However, as the situation stabilises in China and Singapore, staff in those areas are now returning to work "in line with guidance from regional health officials." Seoul and Milan remain closed for the moment.

In a separate announcement, the publisher confirmed it had suspended all live events around its esports titles. This will remain in effect "until the global coronavirus situation improves."

This includes Apex Legends Global Series, FIFA 20 Global Series, FIFA Online 4 Live Events and Madden 20 Championship Series. Third-party events run under licence from Electronic Arts have also been cancelled.

Online events where participants and staff operate remotely, and remotely produced broadcasts, will continue as planned.

Update, March 16, 2020: Other companies are following suit. A representative of Bethesda Softworks has also confirmed that the Fallout publisher's parent company has sent its employees home.

"The health, safety, and well-being of our employees is our top priority. Effective today, we have required all global employees of ZeniMax who have the capability to work from home, to do so until further notice," the representative said.

"Employees with roles that do not accommodate working from home can stay home and will be paid for regular work hours."

Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt also said it has completely switched to remote work effective today and running "for as long as it is needed."

On Friday, Blizzard also adopted work-from-home policies, but only for its Austin and Irvine campuses.

"Those in our other offices around the world have been or will be working from home as directed by local governments and health authorities," the company said.

Update, March 18, 2020: Payday 2 developer Starbreeze Studios has begun adopting remote work produces for its Stockholm office in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Swedish game company has already introduced similar measures in its Barcelona studio, and "will continue to assess the situation and authorities' recommendations on a week by week basis."

Additional reporting by Brendan Sinclair and Haydn Taylor

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