Sony, Facebook pull out of GDC 2020 due to coronavirus concerns

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Sony also announced it wouldn’t be attending PAX East earlier this week.

What you need to know

  • Sony and Facebook announced they’re pulling out of GDC 2020.
  • This is the second conference that Sony has canceled plans for this month.
  • The Novel Coronavirus (COVID19 or 2019-nCoV) situation in China has caused a lot of upheaval across the tech industry.

Just one day after announcing it wouldn’t be attending PAX East, Sony confirmed that it also won’t be attending the Game Developers Conference (GDC) this March in San Francisco also due to coronavirus concerns.

In a statement sent to Android Central, a Sony Interactive Entertainment spokesperson said that it was forgoing the conference in a “difficult decision” due to “increasing concerns” related to the coronavirus.

“We felt this was the best option as the situation related to the virus and global travel restrictions are changing daily. We are disappointed to cancel our participation, but the health and safety of our global workforce is our highest concern,” they said.

It’s unknown what Sony was working on for GDC, but it was set to debut playable demos of the highly-anticipated The Last of Us Part II and the Final Fantasy VII remake at PAX East.

On the same day, Facebook, which owns VR company Oculus, also announced it won’t be attending GDC in either capacity. Chris Pruett, the director of content ecosystem at Oculus, said in a statement, “Out of concern for the health and safety of our employees, our dev partners, and the GDC community as a whole, Facebook’s AR/VR and Gaming teams won’t be attending this year’s Game Developers Conference due to the evolving public health risks related to COVID-19.”

Facebook and Oculus have had a huge presence at GDC over the past couple years. It still plans to make the announcements it was saving for the conference, but will do it online.

Other industry conferences have been greatly affected by the spreading coronavirus. Mobile World Congress (MWC) was canceled earlier this month due to the pandemic. Informa, the organization behind GDC, said on its website that “all of our China-based exhibitors… have had to push their participation to 2021 or are sending North American personnel to staff their booth.” It also noted that the situation affected “around 2% of the total GDC attendance” and around “10 out of 550 companies hosted at GDC this year.”

GDC added that it wasn’t canceling this year’s event but it released a set of guidelines for attendees shortly after MWC was canceled. The conference is still set to take place from March 16-20 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

GDC released a statement today in response to the news. The team notes that it is working to provide a safe enviornment for attendees and will be following guidelines from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

We believe that, based on the strict U.S. quarantine around coronavirus and a large number of enhanced on-site measures, we are able to execute a safe and successful event for our community. Locally, the Department of Health for both the State of California and the City of San Francisco support the convening of public events.

The coronavirus has affected the games industry in other ways, causing delays with games like The Outer Worlds on the Nintendo Switch and parts for the Animal Crossing-themed Switch bundle.

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