Coronavirus concerns cause Playstation, Oculus and Facebook Gaming to drop from GDC.

How will this affect the games industry further?

If you’ve been paying attention to the news or social media the past few months I’m sure you know about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the effect it’s having on the world. The virus has affected manufacturing operations in multiple Asian countries and this of course has started affecting entertainment media. Recently an anime studio announced delays due to the state of coronavirus cases in Japan. Two popular festivals in Japan also announced cancellations.

Now due to the evolving public health risks, multiple game developers have pulled out of this year’s Game Developers Conference (GDC).

Riding in on a pale horse, its riders name was… “COVID-19.”

Facebook delivered a statement on their decision to not attend GDC this year. It reads as follows:

“Out of concern for the health and safety of our employees, our dev partners, and the GDC community, Facebook will not be attending this year’s Game Developer Conference due to the evolving public health risks related to COVID-19,”

“We still plan to share the exciting announcements we had planned for the show through videos, online Q&As, and more, and will plan to host GDC partner meetings remotely in the coming weeks.”

-Facebook Spokesperson in an email to Polygon.

Sony Interactive Entertainment gave a statement to GamesIndustry.biz about their dropout from GDC, as well:

“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.”

-Sony statement to GamesIndustry,biz

Sony also pulled out of PAX East due to similar concerns over Coronavirus.

In response, the Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, asked for the Japanese publisher to reconsider its descision to withdraw, citing fears that “misinformation” around the coronavirus was stoking anti-Chinese sentiments in Boston and around the US.

“These fears reinforce harmful stereotypes that generations of Asians have worked hard to dismantle,” he said. “They trigger our worst impulses: to view entire groups of people with suspicion, to close ourselves off, and to miss out on the opportunities and connections our global city provides. Boston is united in our efforts to dispel these harmful and misguided fears.”

In his letter to Sony CEO Kenchiro Yoshida, Walsh said the company should lead by example, and show that it is “motivated by facts, not fear.”

The scares over the virus have gotten to the point where now even GDC themselves have issued their own statement in an attempt to quell peoples concerns. The GDC Team gave their statement on Thursday, here’s an excerpt:

“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.”

-Full statement here: https://gdconf.com/news/gdc-2020-plans-successful-and-safe-event

Although these pull outs are concerning GDC 2020 will still continue as planned, but people are concerned more will follow in the footsteps of Sony and Facebook. For now we’ll have to wait and see. Keep a lookout for updates on GDC 2020 here at EscapeZero.