What just happened? It’s not just the rest of the world where the coronavirus is disrupting tech events. The Game Developers Conference, scheduled to take place in San Francisco, California, next month, has seen more big names drop out due to concerns over the outbreak. Sony, Facebook, and now EA and Hideo Kojima Productions have all pulled out.
Last week brought confirmation from Sony and Facebook that the pair wouldn’t be at GDC 2020. The social network said it would not have a physical presence at the event and was advising all employees not to travel to the show. Sony, meanwhile, said not participating was the best option given the coronavirus situation and constantly changing global travel restrictions.
Now, Electronic Arts has pulled out of the conference. "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," it said in a statement to PC Gamer.
"As a result we are also canceling 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."
Hideo Kojima will be another no-show. The Metal Gear Solid creator was due to deliver a talk on Death Stranding but has canceled Kojima Productions’ appearance. "Kojima Productions has made the difficult decision to cancel our participation at the 2020 Game Developers Conference due to increasing concerns related to novel coronavirus," reads a statement on the company's website. "Although much-anticipated, unfortunately this cancellation also includes Hideo Kojima’s session on the 19th and Eric Johnson’s session on the 16th."
GDC said that strict US quarantine around the coronavirus and enhanced on-site measures would ensure a “safe and successful event.” It added that the Department of Health for both California and San Francisco support the convening of public events.
There have been 53 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in the US, 15 of which were in California.
While the organizers insist GDC will go ahead, the situation brings back memories of MWC, which saw multiple companies pull out before the event was canceled.
Assuming it goes ahead, GDC 2020 will take place between March 16 and 20.