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Tokyo Game Show canceled in 2020, online event planned

Event to be held online

JAPAN-TECHNOLOGY-GAMING-GAMES Photo: Charly Triballeu/AFP via Getty Images
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Tokyo Game Show organizer Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association (CESA) announced on Thursday that it’s canceling this year’s conference to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Tokyo Game Show 2020 was scheduled to be held Sept. 24-27 at Makuhari Messe. An alternate event will take place online, organizers said in a news release. More details are expected in late May.

The major games industry event has been running each year since 1996. In 2018, more than 298,000 people attended.

“Due to the outbreak of a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on a global scale and the situation remains unpredictable in Japan as well, the organizer and the co-organizers have reached this decision after a long consideration to place the utmost priority on the health and safety of visitors, exhibitors and stakeholders,” CESA said.

Many — if not most — industry events have been canceled due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday, organizers for the Paris Games Week convention canceled their October event citing the “current context and the necessary anticipation of both the technical and logistical complexities” of it. The Game Developers Conference, Evo, E3, San Diego Comic-Con, QuakeCon, and Gamescom have been canceled as well.

Three major gaming events remain in limbo in the coming months: Gen Con, PAX West, and Blizzard Entertainment’s annual BlizzCon. Gen Con organizers appear to still be planning for the annual tabletop gaming event, which takes place each summer in Indianapolis. In April, PAX organizers also said they’re “still planning on putting together a great PAX West” in Seattle from Sept. 4-7. BlizzCon executive producer Saralyn Smith said in April that “it’s too early to know whether BlizzCon 2020 will be feasible.”

Restrictions will likely be in place for large, in-person events — like Gen Con, PAX West, and BlizzCon — for a while. Currently, gatherings of 10 or more people are banned in many areas. The COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic in March. More than 3.8 million cases have been confirmed worldwide, according to John Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center. Globally, 270,118 people have died.

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