PlayStation, EA, Microsoft, Epic Games, and More Cancel GDC Appearance over Coronavirus Fears


The Game Developers Conference (GDC) has suffered a spate of high-profile companies pulling out of the event due to fears of the coronavirus; including PlayStation, Electronic Arts (EA), Microsoft, Epic Games, and more.

In a prior article regarding how the video game industry had been affected by the coronavirus, we reported that Kojima Productions had pulled out of GDC. Over the past few days, the number of applicants pulling out has ramped up.

As detailed on The Washington Post, GDC has now had cancellations from Facebook, Kowloon Nights, PlayStation, Kojima Productions, Electronic Arts (EA), Microsoft, Unity, and Epic Games. As pointed out by IGN’s Review Editor Tom Marks on Twitter, this makes up half of the participants in the south hall at GDC.

All of them cited concerns with the coronavirus (now dubbed COVID-19), and not wishing to risk the health and safety of their employees. You can find their statements from their respective websites (or issued to news outlets) below:

“GDC is always a highlight of our gaming event lineup, however the health of our employees and the wider games community comes before anything else. Due to the evolving health concerns surrounding COVID-19, Facebook’s AR/VR and Gaming teams will not be attending GDC this year.

We’re removing our booth footprint and are advising all employees to refrain from travel during the show. We plan to host GDC partner meetings remotely in the coming weeks. We’ll also replace our in-person sessions at GDC with videos and announcements posted on the Facebook Gaming developer website.

[…] We plan to be at GDC next year and beyond.”
~ Facebook


“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


“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.”
~ Sony Computer Interactive Entertainment (via GamesIndustry.biz)


“Kojima Productions has made the difficult decision to cancel our participation at the 2020 Game Developers Conference due to increasing concerns related to coronavirus.

Although much-anticipated, unfortunately this cancellation also includes Hideo Kojima’s session on the 19th and Eric Johnson’s session on the 16th.”
~ Kojima Productions [1, 2]


“Having closely followed the global situation with Coronavirus and with the recent escalation of cases in new regions, we have decided to take additional steps to protect the wellbeing of our employees including the restriction of all non-essential travel. As a result we are also cancelling our official participation at GDC and limiting attendance to other events. We are continuing to monitor the situation and will adjust guidelines to our employees as we feel is appropriate.”
~ EA (via PC Gamer


“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).

In light of this, we plan to move our presence to a digital-only event March 16-18th held on www.microsoft.com/gamestack. This event will feature the majority of our planned game developer sessions and experiences, which will be streamed live and available on demand.”
~ Microsoft


“After much thought and deliberation, we have made the difficult decision to pull out of GDC 2020. While we did not make this decision lightly, the current conditions with COVID-19 (also known as Novel Coronavirus) present too much risk. We take our employees’ wellbeing very seriously. We do not want any Unity employee or partner to compromise their health and safety unnecessarily. 

We’re advising all employees to refrain from traveling to GDC. We will no longer have a physical presence with a booth, but will instead showcase the great GDC content we’ve been working towards online. Expect more details in the coming weeks.

[…] We look forward to showing our support at next year’s event.”
~ Unity


“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.”
~ Epic Games

On February 13th, the GDC website stated that “all of our China-based exhibitors (around 10 out of the 550 companies hosted at GDC this year) have had to push their participation to 2021 or are sending North American personnel to staff their booth.” 

The event is was still planned to go ahead, with the San Francisco’s Moscone Center “expanding its normal flu season cleanliness protocol,” and following advice from the World Health Organization.

As of February 25th (the last update on the GDC website regarding the coronavirus), the event is still planned to go ahead.

“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.”

GDC 2020 will take place March 15th to March 20th in San Francisco, California, at the Moscone Center.

The coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) has affected many businesses in China, including GoogleAppleFacebook, and more. It has also hindered businesses in Japan, including those centered around anime and video games [123].

The Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering, who are mapping the virus’ spread [12]. As of this time of writing, there have been over 82,500 confirmed cases worldwide, and over 2,800 deaths. Over 33,000 people have had a “total recovery.”

Across the United States of America, there have been 60 cases, zero deaths, and six total recoveries.

An earlier report by The Washington Post cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat. She stated “We believe the immediate risk here in the United States remains low, and we’re working hard to keep that risk low.”

However, the Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC Nancy Messonnier stated “Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in the United States. 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.”

It should be noted out of the 60 aforementioned cases, 11 are in California, with two total recoveries.

Image: Pixabay, GDC Official Website

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Ryan was a former Niche Gamer contributor.