The battle between the games industry and the pervasive coronavirus rages on as tech giant Microsoft and Fortnite developer Epic Games both announced Thursday that they would not be attending the Game Developer Conference. GDC, along with Pax, E3 and the Tokyo Game Show stands as one of the most anticipated events for the announcement of hardware and software updates, playable demos, as well as the occasional gameplay reveal. A post on Microsoft’s Game Stack Blog reads as follows:
After a close review of guidance by global health authorities and out of an abundance of caution, we’ve made the difficult decision to withdraw from participating at Game Developers Conference 2020 in San Francisco. The health and safety of players, developers, employees, and our partners around the world is our top priority. Especially as the world is experiencing growing public health risks associated with coronavirus (COVID-19).
In light of this, we plan to move our presence to a digital-only event March 16-18th held on www.microsoft.com/gamestack. This event will feature the majority of our planned game developer sessions and experiences, which will be streamed live and available on demand.
Microsoft then goes into detail on a live digital-only event that will stream on Game Stack alongside GDC, telling players to look forward to most of their planned conference information and reveals being shown there instead. Shortly thereafter, Epic Games announced through their Unreal Engine twitter that they too are stepping away from the stage this year:
Here at Epic we were excited about participating in GDC 2020. Regrettably, uncertainty around health concerns has made it unviable to send our employees, and so we have made the difficult decision to withdraw attendance. Stay tuned for Epic news and more through other channels.
As international concerns deepen, it seems as though many multi-national companies are opting to mitigate the risk of exposure. These latest cancellations are coming hot on the heels of other industry titans including Sony, Facebook, Square Enix, Capcom and Kojima Productions announcing their absences as well. With many developer focused events planned to take place at GDC, the losses of these big industry names can only serve take the wind out of the sails of the San Francisco based event.