Going with the recent trend, Microsoft and Epic have announced that they will also not be attending GDC this year, citing fears over the coronavirus or COVID-19. Instead, the Microsoft is holding a digital event on March 16 to March 18 that will have a majority of the talks Microsoft had planned. Epic told people to “stay tuned.”
According the post on its website, Microsoft said it closely reviewed by global health authorities and decided to exercise caution around its attendance. Doing this will allow Microsoft to protect the “health and safety of players, developers, employees, and our partners around the world,” which is its “top priority.” Epic’s tweet was shorter, but got to a similar point.
Some of the planned talks that will still happen online include peeks at cloud gaming, “intentionally inclusive game design,” the growth of online services, next gen hardware, and a behind-the-scenes look at some of Microsoft’s ever-growing portfolio of first-party studios. But some parts won’t translate online so easily. GDC was also a place for Microsoft to boost its inclusive Gaming for Everyone initiative for underrepresented voices, but won’t be happening, given how Microsoft isn’t attending. Regardless, the company said it will “remain committed to celebrating and amplifying [its] diverse communities in gaming throughout the year.”
Pulling out a conference citing concerns over the virus almost appears like it is having a domino effect. While the likelihood of catching the coronavirus is low, even with people traveling from all over the world for GDC, these companies are finding it hard to want to take that risk, however minimal it may be. San Francisco Mayor London Breed did recently call a state of emergency, citing the first case of coronavirus in Northern California. However, the infected patient is from Solano County, which is about 60 miles northeast of San Francisco. There are also around 60 cases of coronavirus in the United States.