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Facebook cancels its annual F8 conference, serial defections for the Game Developers Conference

During the F8 (here the 2018 edition), Mark Zuckerberg traditionally announces Facebook's plans for the coming months. JOSH EDELSON / AFP

The event should have been held May 5-6 in San Jose, California: the 2020 edition of F8, the annual Facebook conference for developers and its partners around the world, has been canceled. One of Facebook officials, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, announced it on Thursday, February 27, adding that broadcasts of some live video conferences and the organization of local events are continuing.

This ” difficult decision “, he explains, is justified by the “Growing concerns around the COVID-19 virus [sic]”. The same day, we learned that 33 people had tested positive for coronavirus in California, according to the New york times.

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“We must give priority to the health and safety of our developer partners and our employees”, said Papamiltiadis, as the event was to bring together professionals from around the world.

Questions for GDC 2020

After the cancellation of F8, which follows that of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona two weeks earlier, the eyes of the new technology and video game industry are now turning to Game Developers Conference (GDC), supposed to take place from March 16 to 20 in San Francisco.

For more than thirty years, this fair has been an unmissable event for game creators, an opportunity for them to meet, exchange ideas, and attend series of conferences on subjects related to the development of the industry. . This 2020 edition comes, moreover, the year when two flagship companies in the sector, Sony and Microsoft, are to release their new consoles: respectively, the PlayStation 5, and the Xbox Series X.

But, within a week, most of the major players in video games canceled their participation in the event, due to the spread of COVID-19: from Sony to Facebook (and its subsidiary Oculus), via officials of the Unity graphics engine, as well as leading studios, such as Electronic Arts and Kojima Productions. Thursday, February 27, it was the turn of Microsoft (which will nevertheless ensure an online event through its Mixer streaming platform) and the studio Epic Games (Fortnite) to announce that they have given up going to the GDC.

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If, for the time being, the show and the presence of a handful of important players, such as Google and Amazon, are officially maintained, independent developers or those working for less solid structures are already preparing for a possible cancellation, and are concerned about the refund conditions. The GDC entry ticket is particularly expensive: $ 2,399 (€ 2,174), to be able to attend the whole event.

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