Considering the outbreak of Coronavirus out there in the world, causing all sorts of social distancing and – dare we say – isolation, things look plenty bleak – and especially for tabletop gamers right now. Fortunately, companies like Paizo (creator of such games as Pathfinder and Starfinder) have issued responses and periodic updates to keep gamers in the loop.
From an email update sent by Paizo CEO, Lisa Stevens:
As you know, social distancing is the most important way that we, as a society, have to fight this new viral threat. Three weeks ago, I started the process of shifting almost all Paizo employees from working in our Redmond offices to working from home; they will continue to do so until we believe it is safe to congregate in our office again. For now, our small-but-valiant warehouse team remains in place, shipping orders to both customers and distributors. Even in the warehouse, we practice social distancing, staggering work schedules and limiting the number of people in each area of the warehouse; if we are given cause to believe that their safety is compromised, we will cease warehouse operations until the crisis passes.
As for the products and packages our warehouse team is handling (including products made in China and other countries), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that "In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures… Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods." (Link for more information.)
Working from home does require Paizo to sacrifice some of our normal procedures. Our customer service team can't answer the phones from home, so until we are able to move back to the office, customer service is available only by email and via the Customer Service forum on paizo.com. We have also unfortunately had to cancel all of our visits to gaming conventions and trade shows for the foreseeable future.
Which brings us to PaizoCon. The safety of our attendees and staff is of paramount importance, and we are working closely with our host hotel and monitoring local, state, and federal government guidelines on a daily basis. The Washington State government is currently prohibiting gatherings of 50 or more people, though the timeframe does not yet approach the announced dates for PaizoCon (May 22–25). If the gathering ban or other concerns suggest that we should cancel or postpone PaizoCon, we will inform the community as soon as we can.
While Paizo is currently able to carry on with relatively few issues, many game stores are unfortunately at risk of going out of business if the pandemic goes on for an extended period of time.. If your local store is still open, please help them out by buying from them when you can.
Please also keep in mind that social distancing doesn't have to mean the end of social gaming. Our partners at Fantasy Grounds, Roll20, and D20PRO provide great tools for playing roleplaying games online. Paizo also hosts some great play-by-post campaigns, so you can practice social distancing and still have a great time gaming with your friends.
We are at the start of one of the more difficult moments in the history of the world. We are going to have to help our neighbors, our local businesses, and each other get through this. It won't be easy, but Paizo will be here fighting to keep great RPG products coming into your homes.
Thank you for your continued friendship and business. We will update you when the situation changes.
As with Wizards of the Coast's response (issued earlier), Paizo seems to be taking this pandemic into account in a reasonable and dignified way.