Following the cancellation of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week due to coronavirus concerns, it looks like the whole conference industry could be in big trouble this year. Indeed, the upcoming Game Developer Conference in San Francisco next month could be in jeopardy as more and more big players are now withdrawing from the event.
Microsoft has just announced that its Game Stack team won’t be attending the event after all due to increased risks caused by the coronavirus outbreak. “We plan to move our presence to a digital-only event March 16-18th held on www.microsoft.com/gamestack. This event will feature the majority of our planned game developer sessions and experiences, which will be streamed live and available on demand,” the company announced.
After a close review of guidance by global health authorities and out of an abundance of caution, we've made a difficult decision to withdraw from participating at Game Developers Conference 2020 in San Francisco: https://t.co/PD86eZ6FIN
— Microsoft Game Dev (@MSFTGameDev) February 27, 2020
Microsoft follows similar announcements from Sony, Unity, and Facebook, with the latter also cancelling its annual F8 developer conference in May. GDC promised to be pretty special this year as Sony and Microsoft are gearing up for the launch of their next-gen console, but the Coronavirus outbreak could also well cause supply chain issues in the coming months.
At this point, it’s worth wondering if Microsoft, Google and Apple are going to maintain their upcoming annual developer conferences later this Spring. As the Game Stack team pointed out today, “the health and safety of players, developers, employees, and our partners around the world is our top priority,” and we certainly don’t blame Microsoft and other big tech companies to take the wellbeing of employees and attendees very seriously.
Update 1:15 PM PT: It wasn’t clear at the time of publication if other Microsoft teams than the Game Stack team, such as the ID@XBOX team, would still be attending GDC. We have since received the following statement from a Microsoft spokesperson confirming that Microsoft is withdrawing from GDC completely:
“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. The health and safety of employees, players, developers, and our partners around the world is a top priority. We will still celebrate our Microsoft game developer ecosystem by hosting a digital-only event March 16-18th, where we’ll share the majority of programs and sessions planned for GDC. We hope you will join us on Mixer and at Microsoft.com.”