One of the biggest names in gaming won’t be at one of the biggest US gaming conventions next week, as Sony today unexpectedly pulled out of PAX East, citing coronavirus concerns.
Sony Interactive Entertainment today announced its withdrawal from the event as an update to an earlier blog post touting its planned lineup for the exhibition.
“We felt this was the safest option as the situation is changing daily,” the update reads. “We are disappointed to cancel our participation in this event, but the health and safety of our global workforce is our highest concern.”
PAX East 2020 will begin February 27—next Thursday—in Boston. Sony was planning to have 25 playable Playstation demo games on hand at PAX East, including a hands-on experience with the highly anticipated The Last of Us Part II. The PAX booth was slated to be the first time the general public could try any part of the game, which was originally slated for release this week before being bumped to May.
Kyle Marsden-Kish, PAX event director for ReedPOP, said in a statement that PAX East will have “enhanced cleaning and sanitation” event-wide, but otherwise the show will go on. “While we are saddened that Sony will no longer have a presence at PAX East 2020,” he added, “we look forward to welcoming our friends at Sony to future PAX events and are focused on making PAX East 2020 a successful and enjoyable event for all attendees and exhibitors.”
As of today, more than 75,200 cases of novel coronavirus, now named COVID-19, have been diagnosed worldwide. The vast majority of these cases—more than 74,200—are within China. Of the remaining thousand or so, about 60 percent are aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship. The other 40 percent are spread out among 25 nations, including 15 confirmed diagnoses in the United States.
China is of course a hotbed of technology manufacturing, and concern about delays and cancellations due to the outbreak have been spreading through the tech and gaming sectors. Organizers of the 2020 Game Developers Conference, scheduled to begin in San Francisco next month, said last week that about 10 of its 550 its exhibitors had been forced to cancel their planned attendance due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions. Additionally, China-based attendees, representing about 2 percent of total attendance, all had to back out due to travel restrictions.
Last week, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was cancelled entirely after several key exhibitors—including Sony, Amazon, LG, Ericsson, and Nvidia, all citing COVID-19 concerns—withdrew their plans to attend.