Sony will not attend GDC nor PAX East because the “increasing concerns related to COVID-19” places its employees’ health and safety at risk (via IGN).
The novel coronavirus outbreak is leading to secondary economic impacts across the world. Nintendo has seen stock shortages and supply delays as people are unable to attend work in their partner factories in China. Analysts predicted the problems, owing to the reliance of countless companies upon the country’s manufacturing industry. “China is important for manufacturing of some game hardware, phones and other components, and we believe that the entire supply chain of manufactured goods will be impacted—much more than just games,” said Daniel Ahmad, an analyst for Niko Partners. “When looking at games consoles specifically, we note that 96 per cent of video game consoles imported into the U.S. in 2018 were produced in China. Whilst companies such as Nintendo have moved some manufacturing abroad, China still accounts for the majority.”
Events like the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive WESG Asia-Pacific Finals, the Hong Kong Pokémon Video Game Championship, and the League of Legends Pacific Championships have also been cancelled to reduce the risk posed to attendees, players, and staff. Though Sony had planned to take part in “hundreds of consumer events” throughout this year, it will not be present at GDC in San Francisco, California, nor PAX East in Boston, Massachusetts. “We have made the difficult decision to cancel our participation in Game Developers Conference due to increasing concerns related to COVID-19… We felt this was the best option as the situation related to the virus and global travel restrictions are changing daily,” said Sony in a statement given to IGN. “We are disappointed to cancel our participation, but the health and safety of our global workforce is our highest concern. We look forward to participating in GDC in the future.”
Oculus also announced that it will not be at the event, and said that it will be “removing our booth footprint and are advising all employees to refrain from travel during the show.” Informa, the organiser of GDC, responded to the news, and maintained that it is “continuing to follow the latest CDC and WHO guidance” to ensure the health and safety of all attendees. “Strict quarantine laws” and “enhanced on-site measures” will enable the conference to go ahead.