Sony has decided not to attend Pax East next week, despite teasing a prominent presence just weeks ago, following growing concerns over the coronavirus.
“We felt this was the safest option as the situation is changing daily,” the company said in an updated blog post. “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 is one of the largest gaming conventions in the United States, bringing tens of thousands of people to the Boston Convention Center each year. Sony was poised to bring its highly anticipated game, The Last of Us Part II, to the convention, making it the first time that the public would have a chance to go hands-on with the game. Other games Sony planned to bring to the show include Dreams, Marvel’s Iron Man VR, Nioh 2, Doom Eternal, and Spelunky 2.
The most recent coronavirus outbreak appeared in Wuhan, China, at the start of December and has rapidly evolved into a world health crisis. More than 75,000 cases of people with coronavirus have been confirmed, and there are more than 2,000 deaths. The majority of the illnesses are in China. Still, some cases have been confirmed in more than two dozen other countries, including the US.
Sony isn’t the first company to pull out of a convention over coronavirus concerns. Multiple tech companies pulled out of Mobile World Congress, the largest mobile phone convention in the world, due to the virus. Eventually, Mobile World Congress’ organizers, GSM Association, decided to cancel the event entirely.
Pax East is still scheduled to operate as normal, but it wouldn’t be surprising if there was an increased amount of protocols around handling controllers, VR equipment, and general health practices. The convention will run from February 27th through March 1st.