Coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it’s now being labeled in media reports, has been taking its toll worldwide. While more people have been recovering from the virus than succumbing to it, treatments are roughly a year off and in the meantime, locations around the world are being impacted. Japan is really hunkering down, closing schools and postponing various entertainment events. But parts of the US are also starting to see cases trickle in, and they just so happen to be cropping up in Seattle and LA. Multiple announcements have been made regarding cancellations, postponements, and even some work situations within our industry.
In the games development side, both Microsoft, Nintendo of America, and Destiny developer Bungie have initiated a structural shift of sorts, allowing all local staff to work from home. That means various meetings and events have been shelved for now, as both companies have released statements in support of their staff’s health and safety. In Japan, the upcoming Turbografx16 mini console, including the likes of classic games like Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, has been postponed indefinitely. The Sonic the Hedgehog movie debut has also been postponed in Japan and China.
Various conventions are also seeing delays. Next week’s Emerald City Comic Con, Seattle’s biggest fandom-oriented convention, has been postponed to Summer 2020. Twitchcon Amsterdam has been outright canceled, and Minecraft Festival has been postponed as well. Another big move from Blizzard went out today, with the Hearthstone Masters Tour Los Angeles being restructured to be held online instead of in-person. In this case, the Hearthstone esports team is offering up to $1,500 to competitors to reimburse travel expenses.
There’s no room for speculation in a story like this, as we have no clue what to expect as each organization individually consults with local governments and other bodies to determine what action to take. In our neck of the woods, all eyes are on E3 2020 right now, as The ESA is still working on figuring out what to do.