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SXSW festival has been canceled over coronavirus fears

(Image credit: SXSW)

The South by Southwest festival, better known as SXSW, is an annual conference held in Austin, Texas, that "celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries." It doesn't specialize in games, but interesting games stuff definitely happens there: Last year's event carried details about Halo: The Master Chief Collection, for instance, and we hosted a panel in 2018 on Ultima Underworld, one of the greatest RPGs ever.

There will be no such content coming out of the show this year, however, because there will be no SXSW this year. Just one week before it was scheduled to begin, the city of Austin has cancelled the event just due to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

"We are devastated to share this news with you. 'The show must go on' is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation," event organizers said in a statement

"As recently as Wednesday, Austin Public Health stated that 'there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer.' However, this situation evolved rapidly, and we honor and respect the City of Austin’s decision. We are committed to do our part to help protect our staff, attendees, and fellow Austinites."

The Gaming Expo at this year's SXSW was set to feature classic arcade standups and esports events, tabletop games, screenings of Insert Coin and Console Wars, the annual cosplay contest, and panels on the future of Minecraft, Sonic the Hedgehog, and "How to Be a Game Maker," among others. Registered exhibitors and games included Amid Evil, Bandai Namco, Extra Life, and the IGDA.

Organizers are now looking into rescheduling the event and putting together "a virtual SXSW online experience" as soon as possible, beginning with SXSW EDU, a conference focused on innovation in education. An FAQ for registrants, clients, and participants is also in the works.

Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.