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Epic Games and Microsoft have pulled out of GDC over coronavirus fears

(Image credit: Official GDC Flickr)
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GDC 2020 took another big hit today as Microsoft and Epic Games both announced that they will not be participating in the event due to concerns about the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Microsoft announced its withdrawal in a message on its developer website, saying that "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 lieu of GDC, Microsoft will be holding a digital event over March 16-18 at microsoft.com/gamestack, which will include the majority of the sessions it had planned for GDC. 

"GDC has long been a moment for us to come together and celebrate Gaming for Everyone with our many vibrant communities," Microsoft said. "While we won’t be able to bring our G4E events online, we remain committed to celebrating and amplifying our diverse communities in gaming throughout the year."

Shortly after Microsoft announced that it will skip this year's event, Epic Games announced via the Unreal Engine Twitter account that it too will not be taking part.

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Microsoft and Epic join Sony, Facebook, Electronic Arts, and Kojima Productions, who have already pulled out of the event, and as the dominoes continue to fall the viability of GDC increasingly comes into question. GDC said on February 25 that the event is "moving forward as planned," but with so many major players stepping away there's less and less reason to go regardless of the risks involved.

GDC 2020 is scheduled to run March 16-20 in San Francisco. I've reached out to inquire about possible changes to the status of the show, and will update if I receive a reply. For more information on the Covid-10 coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control for updates in North America, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control , or the World Health Organization.

Update: Microsoft confirmed via email that it is also cancelling the Xbox Preview Event in San Francisco, and the ID@Xbox GDC Showcase.

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.