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GDC could suffer MWC fate, as Sony and Facebook pull out

This year’s Game Developer’s Conference (GDC) now appears to be under threat, following the withdrawal of both Sony and Facebook.

Citing the threat posed by the spread of the coronavirus, two of the biggest name attendees have confirmed they won’t be sending representatives to the San Francisco showcase next month.

Sony, which may have been preparing to reveal more details about the forthcoming PS5 console and games line up during the event, says it is prioritising the safety of its employees.

In a statement issued to the media, the company said: “We have made the difficult decision to cancel our participation in Game Developers Conference due to increasing concerns related to COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus).

“We felt this was the best option as the situation related to the virus and global travel restrictions are changing daily. 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.”

Earlier this week Sony had already announced it wouldn’t be attending PAX East, in Boston, for the same reason.

Related: Sony PS5

As for Facebook, neither the Facebook Gaming or Oculus divisions will be attending, even though its teams are largely based a stone’s throw from the Moscone Center where the event is scheduled to commence on Monday March 16.

In a statement on the Facebook Gaming website, the company wrote: “We’re removing our booth footprint and are advising all employees to refrain from travel during the show.”

Oculus added that it is still planning to share its GDC announcements via video streams during the timeline of the show.

The firm added: “We’re committed to building the future of immersive gaming alongside VR developers—and sharing that journey with the entire VR community. We still plan to share the exciting announcements we had planned for the show, but in a digital format with videos, online Q&As, and more. We’re excited to share and celebrate the accomplishments of our developer partners, and we’re happy that even more people can join in online. Stay tuned for more details!”

Whether GDC will go ahead this year now has to be in serious question. Mobile World Congress was due to commence next week, but after a string of major withdrawals, the organisers had little choice but to cancel the show.

Surely all it’ll take is for a few more dominoes to fall in order for GDC to suffer the same fate.

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