March 20-2020
Coronavirus outbreak: How are Indian gaming studios and platforms coping up with it?

The unprecedented situation of the Coronavirus outbreak in India is taking a daunting turn with 206 cases and five deaths reportedly. The government has taken the tough and sensible decision to impose Section 144 across the country to prevent the spread of this pandemic. Owing to the precautionary measures, many offices are locked down while some important ones have evolved tough set of measures at the workplace. including the permissions to allow employees to work remotely in the interest of their safety.

We can’t deny the fact that the outbreak is directly impacting the businesses as many gaming events have been cancelled or postponed which will again reflect in the country’s GDP in the long run. In order to minimise the losses, many have also rolled out fresh and constructive policies at the workplace.

We reached out to the gaming studios and platforms to learn about the conditions at their workplace including the precautionary measures that they have taken to curb the outbreak and impacts of it has had on their workflow.

Holy Cow Productions director of game development Goutham Dindukurthi said that they are following basic precautionary measures at the workplace and shared businesswise, “Coronavirus, has affected us as we were set to attend the GDC 2020 and showcase Mystic Pillars as part of the Indie Megabooth. Fortunately, the Indie Megabooth and Steam have given us an opportunity in the Steam Game Festival Spring Edition that is currently going on. Mystic Pillars demo is featured in the festival and will be available for free for people to try it out until Monday 23 March.”

UnderDOGS Gaming studio founder and CEO Vaibhav Chavan said “I think in this critical situation, all we need is to think about long term safety than the short term losses.  Coronavirus has definitely impacted a lot worldwide but right now the need is to slow it down by taking effective measures from each and every one of us. Up until last week we at underDOGS strictly tried keeping distance from each other in the office itself. Also we have provided hand sanitizers within the studio to keep it clean. We then went ahead and restricted people coming to the studio who travelled by public transport and that activated half of the studio’s work from home schedule. A couple of days back we took a decision to completely shut the studio till further notice and work from home.”

Further he emphasized that the impact on business is that, “unlike small scale businesses which are heavily impacted by this, our’s has just slowed down a bit with not much of a loss. Since the majority of us use laptops, we have started working remotely with proper tools in place. Only the client meetings to be done in the premises are now taken on video calls. Would take this opportunity to appeal to people to take precautions by social distancing, stay home, be safe and let the officials take effective measures. Let’s help them help us.”

Street Lamp Games CEO and founder Deepak Gurijala said, “My team is like my family and taking care of family is my key responsibility. As we shifted our office from Guntur to Hyderabad a month back we have now enough space.Therefore, we have accommodated every team members inside our office like their second home since all are non localites.They are staying here and working as per their convenience like they would have done while working from home . For example: if they want to work at night and chill in the afternoon they can do that, no dresscode, no house rules similar to work from home culture.Food and other basic necessities including use of sanitizer and mask have been take care of by me. There are enough boardgames we have kept like Carom , Monopoly and UNO apart from that we also play multiplayer mobile games even when at leisure. In addition to that we have installed all the OTT platforms to the television so that my team cannot be bored while in lockdown.

Gurijala also shared, “If  we think on the positive aspect of the lockdown many people are consuming gaming content more than ever, thinking of which we have continued to work on creating games. But yes for me employees’ safety always comes first.”

Xigma Games founder, designer and developer Himanshu Manwani said, “We are at the end cycle of our game and closing to finish our game. The last 10 per cent can be very crucial in game dev. But due to coronavirus concerns our team is taking precautions and working from home since last week. Working from has impacted our output and it may result in delaying our release date but currently, our responsibility is to keep everyone safe and take adequate precautions.”

BornMonkie VP J Pavan Kumar Reddy who works as a 3D artist and as a game designer said, “We are working remotely from home. Even at IndiaSoft business event held on 3 March and 4 March at Hyderabad,  where there was more news about coronavirus, we had scheduled meetings with foreign delegates like SunTV and foreign animation studios but managed to meet only a few people over there and most of the meetings happened over Skype.  The best part of working from home is that we can work anytime  and the worst part is to transfer large data files and 3D models and change in version of the software in different systems  also it is difficult to model and test gameplay on laptops.”

Gamerji founder Soham Thacker shared  “Gamerji staff is currently working from home and coordinating using technology. Along with this, all the staff members have been given necessary equipments such as masks, gloves and sanitizers to keep themselves safe during these tough times”

Business-wise he said,“User flow and tournament joinings have increased since last one week and especially since last couple of days since the offices, schools and public places are closed. People are looking for online modes of entertainment and playing video games is certainly one of them. Gamerji is hosting free solo tournaments everyday for gamers to participate and win cash prizes. It is an effort by the platform to increase user engagement and give people an extra motivation to stay home and avoid public contact.”

On business Play Games24x7  CEO and founder Bhavin Pandya shared,”The Covid 19 scare will affect pretty much everything. In general, sporting events around the world are being postponed or called off and that is not only hurting the fantasy sports apps but also the sporting industry at large as well as advertisers and organizers of these events. However, we believe that people’s safety should be above all else and therefore whatever measures are being taken to prevent the virus from spreading are extremely essential and we support them wholeheartedly.”

Shedding light on the business perspective, FanFight founder Akhil Suhag, “Fantasy Sports is completely dependent on events, and as such Covid-19 has brought the industry to a standstill as the sporting calendar looks empty. We however are sitting tight, believing that this thing is bigger than any of us and needs to be dealt with. We have had a major change of plans around the IPL and are monitoring the situation closely. If the IPL gets postponed, we’ll have to rejig our marketing strategies. We’ve collaborated with a few big players for the IPL 2020 and if the tournament begins from the 15th of April we’ll only have to structure our spends accordingly. There are chances of IPL happening with no crowds. We are hoping that players will increase on our platform.”

Also both Play Games24x7 and Fanfight are not allowing any outsider to enter the office premises.
While Sanitizers and masks are being provided to the employees at many offices, some offices have granted their employees to work from home.