The coronavirus has delivered another blow to technology conferences. Chinese exhibitors who were planning to attend the Game Developers Conference in March will instead send North American personnel in their place or not participate at all.
GDC revealed the change on its website and clarified that about 10 of the 550 companies that planned to participate in the San Francisco conference are Chinese. Chinese citizens are unable to join the conference due to travel restrictions, but event organizers said they are welcome to participate in GDC 2021.
“We’re hoping for a resolution of this difficult situation as soon as [is] practical,” GDC organizers said in the post. “The health and safety of our attendees and exhibitors is our top priority.”
For those still attending GDC 2020, there will be electrostatic disinfectant sprayers in busy areas and frequent wipe-downs of items that are touched a lot like doorknobs and light switches. Attendees are encouraged to frequently wash their hands for at least 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer when soap isn’t available. Carpets in the meeting areas will be sanitized daily, and exhibitors with equipment like controllers and VR headsets are advised to regularly disinfect them.
The news comes a week after Mobile World Congress 202o was canceled outright over fears of the coronavirus, which had been officially designated Covid-19. The Chinese presence at MWC was expected to be substantial, with as many as 6,000 attendees. Prior to the cancellation, major companies, including LG, Sony, TCL, Amazon, and Nvidia, had already pulled out.
The coronavirus continues to cause disruption for several global gaming companies, including Nintendo, which ran into issues with its Nintendo Switch special-edition console pre-orders and Ring Fit Adventure game. The Oculus Quest headset had already experienced delays because of its popularity, and now the company expects the delays to linger even longer as the virus creates a ripple effect. Should the coronavirus remain an issue deeper into 2020, it could pose trouble for the upcoming Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 launches.
The vast majority of coronavirus deaths thus far have occurred in mainland China, but the disease has spread globally, including to the United States. There are currently more than two dozen confirmed cases in the U.S.
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