Update: Epic has also confirmed that it's pulling out of GDC. The announcement was made via a brief tweet.
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.— Unreal Engine (@UnrealEngine) February 27, 2020
Epic typically has a very large presence at GDC, with major events including the State of Unreal keynote, so its absence dramatically weakens and already reeling conference. The original story continues below.
Microsoft announced today that it's pulling out of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, joining Sony, EA, and other major publishers in canceling its plans for the event. Its announcement comes among ongoing concerns about the Covid-19 outbreak, which recently saw its first case in California not connected to international travel.
Microsoft released a short statement explaining the decision to pull out of GDC on its official developer site:
"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)."
Microsoft is planning to instead hold a digital-only event from March 16 to 18. In this event, Microsoft will feature panel discussions; the latest info on development, and "behind-the scenes looks" into games by Xbox Games Studios.
The cancellation comes at a crucial time for Microsoft. While there had been no plans to show the Xbox Series X at the show, Microsoft is nevertheless in the process of trying to build momentum for its exclusives, its cloud services, and other next-gen offerings.
Despite these cancellations, GDC insists that the show will go on, albeit with numerous precautions. It's slated to kick off March 16 and run throughout the week.
Photo credit: GDC 2020 official website