COVID-19 is leading a number of VR development studios to work from home in order to protect workers, their families, and communities from the spread of the disease. While the switch to new working conditions and schedules might affect productivity in the ongoing development of VR projects, we’ve also heard from sources that the quality assurance testing processes for companies like Sony and Facebook may be affected as well.
That could mean delays for upcoming VR games on some platforms.
We reached out to Sony and Facebook about potential delays to VR software projects releasing this year on PlayStation and Oculus Quest, respectively. We’ll update this post if we hear back from Sony, while Facebook responded with a comment saying that they are “working with” their Quality Assurance testing company Keywords Studios and others “to transition to a work from home model for testing.” The transition “may impact the ship date of some titles,” a Facebook company spokesperson wrote in an email to UploadVR.
“We are working with Keywords and others to ensure that they are meeting their local government health guidance—we have been working with them to transition to a work from home model for testing. This transition may impact the ship date of some titles. We’re working closely with Keywords and our developers to keep projects moving, but the health and safety of our partners is the first priority,” the statement from Facebook reads.
With new game consoles planned for 2020 from Microsoft and Sony and the leak of a new development kit for a Facebook VR headset — amid dramatic workplace changes and cascading effects related to COVID-19 — both security and tensions are high at many companies. Facebook partnered with Keywords Studios and its associated studios to test products approved for release on the Oculus Store. A post from Canadian labor news and analysis website Rankandfile.ca over the weekend alleged workers at Keywords “are pressured to work on-site through the COVID-19 pandemic.” I sent emails to Keywords seeking comment and will update this post if we hear back.
Quality assurance is somewhat specialized work with extremely strict guidelines placed on workers to not disclose the intellectual property of partners. Please reach out to [email protected] with any information related to the safety of workers ensuring the quality of VR products.
The production of headsets like Valve Index and Oculus Quest were impacted in recent weeks as the entire circuit of large-scale in-person technology conferences was cancelled or postponed. Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and other major tech companies transitioned to work from home for their workers.