Concerns over Coronavirus have resulted in a number of major video game companies cancelling their travel plans, as convention season draws near. Earlier this month, Sony cancelled plans to attend PAX East over Coronavirus concerns, and now Epic Games has decided to opt out of Game Developers Conference this year. The publisher made the announcement on Twitter earlier today, citing concerns over the safety of their employees as the reason for the decision. With PAX East this weekend, GDC in March, and E3 in June, this could very well be a sign of things to come over the next few months.
Fans of the publisher are likely to be disappointed by the news, but it's impossible to blame Epic Games for taking precautions. The spread of Coronavirus could very well represent a major threat to employees, particularly during events where there are going to be countless interactions between staff and attendees. It's impossible to know what the status of the virus will be at that point, but the move guarantees Epic won't have to find out as the show draws closer.
The Coronavirus represents a very real threat to many companies, but the video game industry as a whole is in the middle of a transition period, which could lead to some major financial burdens. The virus has had a significant impact on manufacturing in China, which is likely to result in a shortage of Nintendo Switch consoles. That particular system has been one of GameStop's biggest sellers in a tough year, and the virus could very easily have a similar impact on manufacturing for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. With interest in Sony and Microsoft's previous systems waning, 2020 could be a bad year for the industry as a whole.
Here at Epic we were excited about participating in GDC 2020. Regrettably, uncertainty around health concerns has made it unviable to send our employees, and so we have made the difficult decision to withdraw attendance.
Stay tuned for Epic news and more through other channels.— Unreal Engine (@UnrealEngine) February 27, 2020
Of course, it's hard to worry about business when lives are at stake, which is why Epic seems to be making the right decision.
Are you planning on attending Game Developers Conference? What do you think about Epic cancelling their plans to attend? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!