Game Developers Conference Postponed Over Coronavirus Fears

Companies cancel travel to SF conference, despite no known cases in the city

After several companies announced they would not be attending this year, the sponsors of the annual Game Developers Conference, scheduled to take place at the Moscone Center from March 13 to 20, announced Friday that they are postponing the event until later this summer.

The statement didn’t cite a reason for the cancellation, but it comes after a wave of companies who regularly attend the conference announced they would be skipping GDC this year over concerns about the novel coronavirus. By Thursday, Microsoft, Unity, Facebook, Sony, and Electronic Arts had all joined the list of companies saying  they would not attend the conference that attracted more than 29,000 participants last year.

“While we did not make this decision lightly, the current conditions with COVID-19 (also known as Novel Coronavirus) present too much risk,” Unity announced Thursday in a blog post. “We take our employees’ wellbeing very seriously. We do not want any Unity employee, partner, community member or developer to compromise their health and safety unnecessarily.”

“Out of concern for the health and safety of our employees, our dev partners, and the GDC community, Facebook will not be attending this year’s Game Developer Conference due to the evolving public health risks related to COVID-19,” Facebook said in a statement.

Both Unity and Facebook declined further requests for comment.

Conference organizers said pre-paid attendees will issued full refunds, and hotel reservations made through the GDC room block will not pay cancellation fees.

Mayor London Breed preemptively declared a local emergency Tuesday, a legal step that lets the city better organize staff and resources should an outbreak occur. But to date, there have been no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in San Francisco residents.

“This is a tool for us to use to marshal resources,” Mary Ellen Carroll, executive director of San Francisco Emergency Management, said Thursday at the San Francisco Travel Marketing Conference. “We are open for business. We do not have a known threat in San Francisco, and we continue to put that information out there.”

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