Sony’s PlayStation team and Facebook, including Oculus VR, have withdrawn from this year’s Game Developers Conference, citing health concerns surrounding the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
“Out of concern for the health and safety of our employees, our dev partners, and the GDC community, Facebook will not be attending this year’s Game Developer Conference due to the evolving public health risks related to COVID-19,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement emailed to Polygon. “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.”
Facebook Gaming and Oculus planned to have booths and employees at GDC 2020, which will be held March 16-20 in San Francisco.
Sony Interactive Entertainment will also not attend, according to a statement received by GamesIndustry.biz. A spokesperson for the PlayStation division said in a statement, “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.”
Sony announced on Wednesday that it was also pulling out of this year’s PAX East over concerns regarding the novel coronavirus. That consumer-focused event will be held in Boston from Feb. 27 to March 1.
Organizers for the Game Developers Conference published a statement on Thursday saying that they were preparing for the event with attendees’ safety in mind, and planned for additional health security measures.
“We believe that, based on the strict U.S. quarantine around coronavirus and a large number of enhanced on-site measures, we are able to execute a safe and successful event for our community,” the GDC team said. “Locally, the Department of Health for both the State of California and the City of San Francisco support the convening of public events.”
The statement continued, “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 current coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan City, China, in late 2019. Originally thought to be pneumonia, the novel coronavirus spread within the region. The Chinese government is restricting travel in the affected area in an effort to contain the virus. According to Vox, the virus has already infected more than 75,000 people in two months. Of them, 2,130 have died.
Concerns over the virus have led to cancellation or postponement of some esports events in China, and have affected the development of some games being worked on in the region.