USG Notebook: Some of Gaming’s Biggest Shows Have Been Upended by the Coronavirus

USG Notebook: Some of Gaming’s Biggest Shows Have Been Upended by the Coronavirus

Two major conferences are seeing their major players stay home.

USG Notebook is a weekly column dedicated to rounding up rumors, tidbits, and commentary that didn't get full coverage on the site.

Few stories stick out more in the last week than the ongoing effects of the COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, outbreak. Doctors, scientists, and medical personnel work to uncover more about this spreading virus, and it's already visibly impacted a crucial time of year for game companies.

Last night, the city of San Francisco declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus. The declaration will notably help the city get ready for any potential outbreak, including reimbursement from the state and federal governments for cash spent on preparedness.

Still, the 2020 Game Developers Conference is scheduled to happen in the city of San Francisco just a few weeks from now, in the middle of March. Today, the conference posted a statement:

"We've recently learned of the additional preventative measures instituted by the City Of San Francisco around COVID19. Locally, the California Department of Public Health, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, and the San Francisco Travel Association continue to support the convening of public events, and we are moving forward as planned. More information can be found in the updated SFTA letter to GDC attendees."

Despite GDC's statement that it would execute a "safe and successful event," companies have been backing off their official participation with events like GDC and PAX East. (Note: USgamer is owned by ReedPop, which organizes PAX.)

Sony has backed out of both PAX East and GDC 2020. Facebook and Kojima Productions have also canceled their participation, Square Enix and Capcom have scaled back their PAX East plans, Electronic Arts has canceled all official participation at GDC and will further restrict non-essential travel, and overseas, the Overwatch League has called off a number of Homestand matches.

It is obvious that the coronavirus is having an effect on the industry, affecting event attendance and even further, the actual developers who live in the affected regions. With a new console generation on the horizon and E3 2020 looming in the distance, the question now seems to be drifting to how much longer this will go on, and what lasting effects it might have.

From the Rumor Mill

News and Tidbits

Spider-Man made the rounds this week, but not for any web-slinging heroics. It was Peter Parker's perfectly portrayed pectorals that caused a hubbub, as one character artist discussed sculpting the friendly neighborhood superhero's nipples with Fanbyte. And if you thought the trail ended there, Polygon talked to one animator who fielded concerns from Edward Norton over his virtual chest in 2008's The Incredible Hulk video game.

Rob McElhenney, coming off the first season of video game office comedy Mythic Quest, told the Happy Sad Confused podcast about once being attached to a Minecraft movie. His pitch sounds interesting, but it died on the vine, according to the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia creator. "With these kinds of numbers and this kind of scale, $150 million, which is what we were budgeted for, it can fall apart at any moment," McElhenney said. "You have to live in that mystery."

Developer Sanzaru Games was acquired by Facebook. The Sly Cooper 4 developer has garnered some attention in the VR space, especially for last year's Oculus-exclusive Asgard's Wrath. That's good news for any VR enthusiasts hoping for more studio support in the space, but bad news for anyone holding out hope for another Sly Cooper game.

Industry Chatter

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Eric Van Allen

News Editor

Eric is a writer and Texan. He's a former contributor to sites including Compete, Polygon, Waypoint, and the Washington Post. He loves competitive games, live music, and travel.

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