Microsoft is skipping the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this year, citing concerns about the global coronavirus outbreak. It isn't the only company to bow out of GDC 2020: Sony, Facebook, Kojima Productions and Unity Technologies previously announced they would miss the show in order to keep their employees and attendees as safe as possible. GDC is scheduled to run from March 16th to the 20th.
"After a close review of guidance by global health authorities and out of an abundance of caution, we've made the difficult decision to withdraw from participating at Game Developers Conference 2020 in San Francisco," Microsoft said in a blog post. "The health and safety of players, developers, employees, and our partners around the world is our top priority. Especially as the world is experiencing growing public health risks associated with coronavirus (COVID-19)."
Similar concerns led to the full-on cancellation of Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2020, which was scheduled to begin today. Facebook also canned its F8 developer conference, originally due to kick off on May 5th, over "growing concerns" around coronavirus.
Microsoft will host a digital event on the Game Stack website March 16th through 18th to replace its GDC presence. Here, developers will deliver the majority of Microsoft's planned GDC talks, streamed live and available on-demand. The company's Gaming for Everyone events, which promote diversity and inclusion in the industry, have been canceled altogether.
"While we won't be able to bring our G4E events online, we remain committed to celebrating and amplifying our diverse communities in gaming throughout the year," Microsoft said.
We've made the tough decision to cancel our on-the-ground activity at GDC 2020, due to current conditions with COVID-19. The health and safety of our employees, partners and friends is our top priority. More info to come on what we'll be sharing online. https://t.co/xkujzb4v5c— Unity (@unity3d) February 27, 2020
Today, Unity Technologies also announced its decision to skip GDC over coronavirus concerns. The company will showcase its GDC lineup online, with more information expected in the coming weeks.
GDC organizers have said the show will go on, and there are no plans to offer coronavirus-related refunds.
Coronavirus has infected more than 80,000 people worldwide and killed nearly 3,000 people. It's spread outside of its origin point in mainland China since the outbreak began in late December 2019, and there are confirmed cases in Iran, Italy, France, South Korea, the United States and other countries.