The threat of the coronavirus has caused Sony PlayStation to pull out from another major industry event. Only days after announcing they would back out of PAX East, the console manufacturer and platform holder is skipping the Game Developers Conference, one of the largest industry events on the calendar.
As was the case with PAX East, PlayStation said they were "disappointed" to cancel their appearance, but growing fears over COVID-19, or the coronavirus, forced their hand.
"We felt this was the best option as the situation related to the virus and global travel restrictions are changing daily," Sony said in a statement to GamesIndustry. "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."
They weren't the only vendor to pull out of the San Francisco-based event next month, with Facebook Gaming and Oculus also pulling out of GDC. "We still plan to share the exciting announcements we had planned for the show through videos, online Q&As, and more, and will plan to host GDC partner meetings remotely in the coming weeks," a statement from a Facebook spokesperson said, adding that they are advising all staff not to attend GDC.
GDC, which runs from March 16 to March 20, is still forging ahead nonetheless. A post on the GDC 2020 website noted that "the Department of Health for both the State of California and the City of San Francisco" still encouraged public gatherings, and they believed they would hold a safe event after implementing extra health measures, including daily carpet sanitisation, "significant increase" in hand sanitiser availability, dispensing "electrostatic sprayers in high traffic areas" and more regular wipedowns of all equipment and objects attendees are likely to touch. About 10 of the 550 companies taking part at GDC have pulled out, according to the organisers, largely because of travel restrictions around Chinese citizens entering into the United States.
"We are also continuing to follow the latest CDC and WHO guidance, following in the footsteps of other large international events that are taking place successfully at the Moscone Center," the GDC organisers said.
A string of first-party Sony developers were scheduled to give various talks at GDC this year, according to the GDC schedule. The biggest speaker is still scheduled to attend though: Hideo Kojima has a scheduled talk on Death Stranding on March 20 Australian time.