Companies seem to be dropping out of the Game Developers Conference by the minute. Yesterday, Unity, Microsoft Game Stack, Epic Games, and Iron Galaxy Studios have all decided to skip this year GDC for the same reason most companies are. They’ve deduced that the threat of the coronavirus is not worth risking their employees.
GDC organizers have the upmost confidence in the safety of the event and are enacting enhanced measures of sanitation to protect attendees. Despite this, the looming threat of a coronavirus outbreak in the United States is spooking many companies and citizens alike. Experts say outbreak in the United States is “inevitable” and that people should prepare for disruption to their ordinary lives. The US potentially saw its first community transmission of the disease a couple days ago in California. GDC will be held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California.
CEO of Iron Galaxy Studios, Adam Boyes, says GDC should consider refunding “folks who are deciding not to attend your conference in order to prioritize their health and wellness.” Microsoft Game Stack tweeted that they’ve made the decision to pull out after “a close review of guidance by global health authorities and out of an abundance of caution…” Epic Games tweeted a similar sentiment, via the Unreal Engine Twitter account. In place of sessions originally planned for GDC, the company will host a series of digital-only events to cover their material. Unity will also share their content online, in lieu of any kind of physical presence at the event. With the option of online avenues, it probably makes the most sense to avoid the risk presented by large gatherings and events at this time.
The coronavirus is impacting many gaming events game events around the world, including PAX East and the Taipei Game Show. There are over 100,000 cases worldwide, with death tolls approaching 3,000. You can view live updates about the coronavirus here.