Update: Electronic Arts has provided a statement regarding its GDC 2020 presence. "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," the statement provided to us reads.
"As a result we are also cancelling 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.”
The 2020 Game Developers Conference is scheduled to take place in less than a month, but several big names have announced they will no longer attend due to ongoing novel coronavirus concerns.
The biggest cancelations are Sony and Facebook. "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,” Facebook wrote in a statement provided to Polygon last week.
Sony's statement for GamesIndustry.biz was similar: "We are disappointed to cancel our participation, but the health and safety of our global workforce is our highest concern."
On an arguably smaller scale, Electronic Arts will be "limiting [its] presence" at GDC, according to ad product development specialist for the company, Alex Sherer.
"Just received word from corporate, and EA will be limiting our presence at GDC, cancelling our participation in official GDC events, and all EA employees have been advised to not travel to San Francisco for the conference," Sherer wrote on LinkedIn.
Hideo Kojima, who was scheduled to deliver a talk on Death Stranding, has also canceled Kojima Productions' commitments at the convention. "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," a statement on the studio's website reads. "Although much-anticipated, unfortunately this cancellation also includes Hideo Kojima’s session on the 19th and Eric Johnson’s session on the 16th."
GDC addressed concern over the coronavirus in a statement posted February 20. "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. Locally, the Department of Health for both the State of California and the City of San Francisco support the convening of public events.
"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."
As of February 21 there were 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in California, among a total of 53 cases in the United States at large. While GDC has experienced a handful of cancelations, PAX East has suffered too: Sony has canceled its appearance at the March convention, while Square Enix has scaled back.
GDC 2020 takes place between March 16 and 20.