Microsoft and Epic Games will not be attending this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, citing the coronavirus (COVID-19) as a risk.
In a post from their Game Stack blog, Microsoft made a “close review” of the virus and “made the difficult decision to withdraw,” while prioritizing “the health and safety of our players, developers, employees and our partners around the world.”
But the company also promised its announcements and presents would be made in an online stream event from March 16-18, showing the GDC schedule live over Game Stack.
Fortnite and Unreal Engine studio Epic Games went on Twitter to discuss their GDC withdrawal, citing health concerns while keeping fans teased about future news.
Fellow engine developer Unity posted an online statement about their calls to “refrain from travelling to GDC” and advised their staff.
“We take our employees’ wellbeing very seriously,” Unity CEO John Riccitiello wrote. “We will no longer have a physical presence with a booth, but will instead showcase the great GDC content we’ve been working towards online.”
COVID-19 had also become an issue for the GDC lineup this year. Earlier this week, PlayStation and Facebook cancelled their visits, promising to put planned announcements online.
The virus has resulted in a handful of major companies pulling from schedules for PAX East in Boston, leaving guests with less venues and panels across the week.
World Health Organization’s latest information on the spread of coronavirus revealed nine additional countries including Brazil, Norway and Pakistan reported new cases “in the past 24 hours.”
Over 1185 COVID-19 cases were tallied while the global count sits at over 82,000.
Despite the odds, a GDC spokesperson tells The Verge its annual event is continuing as planned and stated in a Feb. 25 update “additional preventative measures” were enacted by the City of San Francisco.
You can still view the full schedule for GDC 2020 here.