Kojima Productions, Sony, EA, and Facebook – which owns Oculus – have pulled out of GDC.
“GDC brings together an international community of game developers to reflect on the industry’s momentum and look forward to its increasingly vibrant future. Sadly, we’re unable to participate this year,” Facebook said in a statement (thanks, Eurogamer). “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. We’re removing our booth footprint and advising all employees to refrain from travelling to the show.
“We plan to host GDC partner meetings remotely in the coming weeks. We’re long-term partners with UBM, GDC’s parent company, and we’ll continue to collaborate with them and our partners in their efforts to support the game industry and gaming community. We plan to be at GDC next year and beyond.”
The show – which is set to run from March 16th to 20th in San Francisco – has also lost sessions that would’ve been hosted by KJP’s Hideo Kojima and Eric Johnson.
“Kojima Productions has made the difficult decision to cancel our participation at the 2020 Game Developers Conference due to increasing concerns related to coronavirus,” the studio said in a statement shared on Twitter.
“Although much-anticipated, unfortunately this cancellation also includes Hideo Kojima’s session on the 19th, and Eric Johnson’s session on the 16th.”
Sony, too, has also confirmed it will not be attending GDC, as has Electronic Arts.
“We have made the difficult decision to cancel our participation in Game Developers Conference due to increasing concerns related to COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus),” Sony told GI.biz. “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. We look forward to participating in GDC in the future.”
“Having closely followed the global situation with coronavirus and with the recent escalation of cases in new regions, we have decided to take additional steps to protect the wellbeing of our employees including the restriction of all non-essential travel,” said EA. “As a result we are also cancelling our official participation at GDC and limiting attendance to other events. We are continuing to monitor the situation and will adjust guidelines to our employees as we feel is appropriate.”
Sony pulled out of PAX East last week, just a few days after confirming the company would be at the convention with several of its upcoming games, including Naughty Dog’s highly anticipated The Last of Us Part 2, Sony revealed “the safest option” was to “cancel its participation”, adding “the health and safety of our global workforce is our highest concern”. Consequently, Marty Walsh, the mayor of Boston – which is the US city that hosts PAX East – sent a letter to Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida stating that the decision to pull out of the convention only served to reinforce “harmful stereotypes that generations of Asians have worked hard to dismantle”, stating it was going ahead with the show in order to “dispel these harmful and misguided fears”.
The world’s biggest mobile phone show, Mobile World Congress (MWC), was cancelled after organiser GSMA said that fears concerning the coronavirus outbreak had made it “impossible” for the event to proceed.
At the time of writing, GDC – which is scheduled to run next month – is still going ahead, stating “based on the strict U.S. quarantine around coronavirus and a large number of enhanced on-site measures, we are confident we can execute a safe and successful event for our community”. China-based exhibitors (around 10 out of the 550 companies hosted at GDC this year) are no longer attending, having had their participation “pushed” to 2021. China-based conference attendees will also not be attending this year.