Square Enix will still have plenty to see for Final Fantasy fans next week at PAX East, but its biggest plans for Final Fantasy 14 at the convention are being canceled out of concern for the safety of its Japan-based staff and attendees, citing the spread of the coronavirus throughout East Asia.
On Final Fantasy 14's official website, Square released a list of the changes to its PAX East schedule alongside a statement explaining the decision. There will still be a booth for the game on the show floor, but Square is canceling a panel featuring director Naoki Yoshida and lead character concept artist Yusuke Mogi as well as two planned autograph sessions. Square is also canceling an off-site Final Fantasy 14 fan gathering that was planned for Friday, February 28 at The Brahmin restaurant and lounge.
In place of the panel on Final Fantasy 14's concept art, Square will instead host an English and Japanese-language livestream on Saturday, February 29 at 8pm ET on its official Twitch channel.
"Taking into consideration the current situation within the region, sadly SQUARE ENIX has decided to cancel the PAX East attendance of staff who would be travelling from the Japan offices," reads Square's official statement. "This difficult decision was based on our desire to prevent any potential spread of the virus and to prioritize the health and safety of our team and our fans."
Square is the second major company to scale back its PAX East appearances because of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this week, Sony canceled its entire official presence at the convention, including plans to feature a public playable demo of The Last of Us Part 2 at its booth.
Sony has also announced plans to pull out of the Game Developers Conference in March, as have Facebook/Oculus. Since the coronavirus outbreak began, over 76,000 cases of infection have been recorded and the death toll has climbed to over 2,200. The video game industry, like many others, is trying to keep up with the effects that quarantines and travel lockdowns are having on the global economy.
Disclosure: USG is owned by ReedPop, which runs PAX East.