"After a close review of guidance by global health authorities and out of an abundance of caution, we've made the difficult decision to withdraw from participating at Game Developers Conference 2020 in San Francisco," Microsoft said in a blog post. "The health and safety of players, developers, employees, and our partners around the world is our top priority. Especially as the world is experiencing growing public health risks associated with coronavirus (COVID-19)."
Similar concerns led to the full-on cancellation of Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2020, which was scheduled to begin today. Facebook also canned its F8 developer conference, originally due to kick off on May 5th, over "growing concerns" around coronavirus.
Microsoft will host a digital event on the Game Stack website March 16th through 18th to replace its GDC presence. Here, developers will deliver the majority of Microsoft's planned GDC talks, streamed live and available on-demand. The company's Gaming for Everyone events, which promote diversity and inclusion in the industry, have been canceled altogether.
"While we won't be able to bring our G4E events online, we remain committed to celebrating and amplifying our diverse communities in gaming throughout the year," Microsoft said.
Today, Unity Technologies also announced its decision to skip GDC over coronavirus concerns. The company will showcase its GDC lineup online, with more information expected in the coming weeks.
GDC organizers have said the show will go on, and there are no plans to offer coronavirus-related refunds.
Coronavirus has infected more than 80,000 people worldwide and killed nearly 3,000 people. It's spread outside of its origin point in mainland China since the outbreak began in late December 2019, and there are confirmed cases in Iran, Italy, France, South Korea, the United States and other countries.