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GDC 2020: PlayStation and Facebook pull out, leaving event in limbo

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The coronavirus — a deadly disease that has killed 2,592 people — has already taken down shows like the now-canceled Mobile World Congress — could the 2020 Game Developers Conference (GDC) be next?

Playstation, Facebook Gaming and Oculus VR, three big-name players in the gaming industry, will not be attending GDC 2020, which is scheduled to be held from March 16 to 20 in San Francisco.

“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,” a Facebook spokesperson told Polygon

Facebook, citing coronavirus concerns, also canceled the annual Global Marketing Summit it was planning to host next month in San Francisco, according to Recode. The event was expected to attract 5,000 international participants at the Moscone Center from March 9 to 12.

There are four confirmed cases of coronavirus in Northern California, which could incite global-attracting events to hunker down on mitigating the risk of contagion.

Sony echoed Facebook's statement regarding coronavirus concerns; The gaming giant noted that walking away from GDC 2020 participation is their best option due to wavering global travel restrictions and the viral . 

"We are disappointed to cancel our participation, but the health and safety of our global workforce is our highest concern," a Playstation spokesperson told GamesIndustry.biz.

Sony also pulled out of this year's Boston-based PAX East, aborting the first public showing of The Last of Us Part 2, a highly anticipated zombie-apocalypse video game sequel.

The organizers of the Game Developers Conference, trying their best to pacify participants, published a statement on Thursday reassuring attendees that they are increasing safety and security measures.

"We believe that, based on the strict U.S. quarantine around coronavirus and a large number of enhanced on-site measures, we are able to execute a safe and successful event for our community," The GDC wrote.

Although Facebook will not be present at GDC 2020, the social media giant will still drum up fanfare for its upcoming projects through other avenues.

"We still plan to share the exciting announcements we had planned for the show through videos, online Q&As, and more, and will plan to host GDC partner meetings remotely in the coming weeks," a Facebook spokesperson said.