“It’s not a question of if this will happen, but when this will happen, and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses,” said Nancy Messonnier, a top official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
GDC in San Francisco was expected to draw tens of thousands of game developers from around the world, including Asia. Last year’s attendance was 29,000. But since the spread of the disease, and as governments implement travel restrictions, several companies are now erring on the side of caution and have opted not to attend the annual convention.
Here are the attendees who have pulled out or scaled back, and what they’ve said about their decision to do so.
This is not a surprise, since Sony was among the first to withdraw for the same reason from its highly anticipated appearance at PAX East this week in Boston. Sony had a lot to show off this year, including marquee exclusive titles like “The Last of Us 2” and “Final Fantasy VII Remake,” along with the planned PlayStation 5.
One of the biggest publishers in the world also canceled its GDC appearance and will be “limiting” attendance for other events, a statement to PCGamer reads. EA’s stable of studios include Respawn Entertainment, the creators of Apex Legends and “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order”; Battlefield series developer DICE; and BioWare, whose live-service game Anthem is in deep hibernation for a reboot.
Facebook has positioned itself as a leader in the VR space. As stewards of the Oculus Quest VR headset, a Facebook appearance would give the social network company a chance to show off its work in the VR and AR (augmented-reality) spaces.
“We’re removing our booth footprint and are advising all employees to refrain from travel during the show,” Facebook said in a statement, adding that they’re canceling in-person sessions in favor of video announcements on its website.
Hideo Kojima, the beloved creator of the Metal Gear series, was scheduled to give a talk about his latest game, Death Stranding. A Kojima appearance was probably a big draw for many attendees, but his company also canceled attendance Monday, via an announcement on its website.
His scheduled conversation with AI programmer Eric Johnson is also canceled.
Though not a household name yet, the small Asian investment fund powers small studios with ambitious projects and powerful talent behind them. Their investments include the next game by legendary director Fumito Ueda, creator of Shadow of the Colossus, as well as one of the first PlayStation 5 games announced, Godfall.
Hi everyone! We wanted to give an update about GDC. As a team, we have decided to pull out of GDC this year. With international travel concerns on the rise due to COVID-19, we want to do our best to care for ourselves and others.
— Kowloon Nights (@KowloonNights) February 24, 2020
These high-profile withdrawals also come on the heels of other companies pulling out of PAX East, a fan event. Both events are still scheduled to happen. GDC said that San Francisco’s Moscone Center will undergo more stringent cleansing and disinfecting practices.
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