GDC postponed over coronavirus, so gaming companies forge new plans

The 2020 Game Developers Conference (GDC) is postponed due to the coronavirus, officially named COVID-19. GDC plans to host the event in the summer with more information to come.

GDC, which was scheduled to take place from March 16-20, brings developers, publishers, and others in the gaming industry together, but many companies withdrew in favor of private events this year, including notable players like Sony, Microsoft, and Electronic Arts. Less than a month away, GDC organizers formally postponed the conference. That’s in addition to the numerous disruptions impacting game companies and players alike.

Since some game companies already decided to forgo the event, a few contingency plans are already in the works. Here’s a list of all the companies that already opted to skip GDC, and what they’re planning so far.

Microsoft

Fresh off new details for Xbox Series X, Microsoft announced it will not be at GDC. It originally planned an in-depth look at the development process for its first-party studios along with demonstrations.

“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,” Xbox stated in a blog post.

Fortunately, there will be a replacement for any news and sessions that would have taken place at GDC 2020. Microsoft will hold a digital-only livestream on its Game Stack website, packed with feature game developer sessions and panel discussions on cloud gaming and next-gen hardware like the Xbox Series X, which would have likely been highlights of its GDC attendance. There will also be plenty of behind-the-scenes looks at popular Xbox-exclusive series like Gears of War.

Game Stack begins on March 17 and runs through March 18. An Xbox Series X and Project xCloud segment will be held on March 18 at 11:40 a.m. PT/2:40 p.m. ET.

The entire event will be a livestream and available on demand afterward.

Epic Games

Fortnite developer Epic Games revealed its own “difficult decision” to pull out of GDC on Twitter.

“Regrettably, uncertainty around health concerns has made it unviable to send our employees, and so we have made the difficult decision to withdraw attendance,” Epic tweeted.

Like Xbox, Epic Games will make up for its GDC absence in other ways. It encourages fans to keep an eye on “other channels” for any upcoming news. Given that the Unreal Engine account posted the announcement, it’s possible that some reveals will include news regarding the popular development engine used for titles like Fortnite, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, and Borderlands 3.

Sony

Sony Interactive Entertainment, the team behind PlayStation and its first-party games, revealed it won’t be attending GDC 2020, either, saying it’s putting the “health and safety” of its global workforce first. Sony, which remains quiet despite preparing for the launch of its new PlayStation 5 console in mere months, has not given details on a replacement event.

Sony withdrew from PAX East over the coronavirus, as well, after separately announcing would skip E3 for the second year in a row. The E3 decision was not due to the coronavirus, but it leaves Sony with few opportunities to deliver more information on the PS5.

Fans expected Sony to show off The Last of Us Part II, its highly anticipated sequel, at PAX East, but no word yet on when console details may come.

Kojima Productions

After the success of Death Stranding, Kojima Productions will not attend GDC. That means the anticipated panel with Death Stranding creator Hideo Kojima and A.I. programmer Eric Johnson won’t happen, either. It’s possible Kojima planned to reveal more information regarding recent cryptic teases for Death Stranding, but further information remains to be seen.

Facebook Gaming and Oculus

Citing similar “evolving public health risks,” Facebook Gaming, which includes the Oculus VR team, withdrew from GDC. The announcements planned for the event, however, will still happen through a series of “videos, online Q&As, and more.”

Oculus previously announced that production of the popular wire-free headset Quest faces worldwide back-orders.

All Chinese exhibitors

After international travel restrictions prohibited Chinese exhibitors from attending GDC 2020, organizers announced they would allow affected companies to join GDC 2021. Alternatively, those Chinese companies can send North American personnel on their behalf. This affects 10 of the more than 500 companies participating or roughly 2% of all attendees.

EA

In addition to formally backing out, Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order publisher Electronic Arts advised that its employees not travel to the event, according to a statement given to PC Gamer. However, there is no word on whether this will affect its future events like EA Play, which takes place in June during the week of E3.

Unity

Popular engine development company Unity posted on its blog that it won’t be attending GDC in order to ensure that no Unity “employee or partner compromises their health and safety unnecessarily.”

Similar to EA, United advised employees not to attend, either. However, the hard work it already poured into GDC will not go to waste. Like many others, it plans to post details online and intends to return to GDC next year.

Updated on March 13, 2020: Added date and time for Xbox Series X stream.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated Electronic Art’s plans for GDC. It has not yet confirmed its plans for the event.

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