PlayStation has announced it will not be attending GDC this year amidst concerns surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID19). Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, a Sony Interactive Entertainment representative said skipping the show was its best option and the safest decision when keeping in mind the welfare of its employees.
“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),” the company confirmed. “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.”
GDC 2020 is set to begin on March 16 and run through March 20 in San Francisco. In addition to PlayStation, Facebook Gaming/Oculus is also opting to not attend the show, though it will still make announcements via a digital presence.
“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,” a Facebook spokesperson told Games Industry.biz. “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.”
These announcements follow news that PlayStation has decided to pull back on its presence at PAX East. The event was set to be the first public demo of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us 2, but PlayStation has pulled out of the show entirely.
As disappointing as this may be to may attendees, the threat posed by Coronavirus has slowly escalated and concerns around its propagation have rightly been taken seriously. The virus has affected more than 75,000 people and the death toll has risen above a reported 2,000 cases.
GDC has said that it intends for the event to go ahead, despite China-based exhibitors and attendees also skipping the show. In accordance with guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is also adhering to cleanliness protocols in addition to introducing measures such as using disinfecting electrostatic sprayers in high-traffic areas, more frequent wipedowns of objects like doorknobs and microphones, more hand sanitizer stations, and daily carpet sanitation.
Other aspects of the gaming industry and tech world are also being impacted. Nintendo Switch supply is expected to diminish and iPhone shortages are also expected. Sony is expected to launch the PlayStation 5 this year and PlayStation has, on the whole, a much more reduced presence thus far. In addition to PAX and GDC, the company won’t be at E3 2020. As of yet, it’s unclear whether the production and manufacturing of PS5 is going to be impacted in any way.