Out of concern for employee safety, Sony Interactive Entertainment and Facebook's Oculus have decided not to attend the 2020 Game Developers Conference next month. The two companies are both withdrawing from the event citing concerns over the ongoing 2019-nCoV coronavirus outbreak.
Sony and Facebook both made statements on the cancellations to GamesIndustry.biz. A spokesperson for Facebook says the company still plans to "share the exciting announcements [Oculus] had planned for the show through videos, online Q&As, and more." In its statement, Sony does not specify whether it will adapt its GDC plans for another event or venue:
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). 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.
Yesterday, Sony also canceled its PAX East 2020 presence due to safety concerns related to the coronavirus. Just over a week prior, Naughty Dog had announced that The Last of Us Part 2 would be playable at the event.
Over 100 more deaths attributed to the coronavirus have been reported in the day since Sony's PAX East withdrawal, bringing CNN's estimate of the total deaths to over 2,100. So far, the total number of infected worldwide has risen to over 75,000.
These cancellations are just the latest in a string of games industry delays and scuttled plans brought about by the coronavirus outbreak. It's likely that we'll see more in the weeks to come, and with Chinese game studios and factories obeying strict quarantines, the industry may continue to feel the ripple effects of the outbreak for quite some time.