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Microsoft and Amazon Drop Out of Game Developers Conference

Following in the footsteps of several other major tech firms including Sony and Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and Epic have said that they will no longer be attending this year’s Game Developers Conference due to the growing health risks posed by COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus. “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 wrote on its Game Stack Blog.

Instead, Microsoft will host live-streamed versions of “the majority” of its planned GDC panels, including panels covering its next-generation Xbox Series X hardware, Project xCloud streaming, and game development sessions from its various Xbox Game Studios teams. The streams will be shown on its website from March 16 through 18, the first three days of GDC.

“Regrettably, uncertainty around health concerns has made it unviable to send our employees, and so we have made the difficult decision to withdraw attendance,” Epic wrote in a tweet. Like Microsoft, it said that it would disseminate Epic news through “other channels.” In addition to multiple panels, Epic was set to hold its annual “State of Unreal” briefing at GDC, which is usually home to major announcements.

In addition to its GDC panels, Microsoft has traditionally hosted a separate ID@Xbox event in San Francisco during the show at which press are able to play new indie games coming to Xbox, as well as interview developers. Microsoft has confirmed that it is canceling this event and will announce “alternative plans” for sharing this information in the “short term.”

This puts Microsoft, Amazon, and Epic on a growing list of gaming and tech companies who are skipping Game Developers Conference, which takes place in downtown San Francisco from March 16 through 20, amid the rising number of diagnosed coronavirus cases worldwide. Last week, both Facebook and Sony announced they would be pulling out over concerns about the spread of the virus. On Monday, Electronic Arts sent out a note to employees saying it was limiting its presence at the conference and telling employees not to travel to San Francisco where the event is held.

Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services has also pulled out of the 2020 show in response to “continued concerns over COVID-19.” In its place, Amazon is planning a “global online event” in May that will show what its AWS Game Tech team was originally going to debut in person along with some extras. You’ll hear more about it in the weeks ahead, Amazon said.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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