Sony announced yesterday that it won't participate in PAX East, the annual gaming conference hosted in Boston, this year because of the Coronavirus outbreak.
The company originally planned to let PAX East attendees play upcoming titles such as The Last of Us Part II, Final Fantasy VII Remake and more during the four-day event.
Sony originally said it would participate in PAX East on February 13. Less than a week later it updated its announcement blog post with the following statement:
"Today, Sony Interactive Entertainment made the decision to cancel its participation at PAX East in Boston this year due to increasing concerns related to COVID-19 (also known as 'novel coronavirus'). We felt this was the safest option as the situation is changing daily. We are disappointed to cancel our participation in this event, but the health and safety of our global workforce is our highest concern."
Coronavirus's effect on the game industry has been muted thus far, but reports have claimed that it could lead to supply constraints for the Nintendo Switch this spring.
The outbreak has also led Apple and Nvidia to revise their earnings guidance for the first quarter, reduced demand within China for certain tech products, and more.
But dropping out on an American trade show? This makes Sony look weak and alarmist, considering the rate of infection has steadily been declining since they first said they were going. If Sony doesn't want to go because big gaming trade shows don't make business sense for them anymore, they can just say so. They already dropped out of E3 awhile ago.
Or maybe I'm off-base, and there's some secret outbreak in Boston that nobody is talking about.
What's the supposed benefit of them attending cons like PAX, anyhow? Is it just to get influencers and gaming press to talk & write about their upcoming titles? Wouldn't they probably do that, regardless?
PAX is (was?) a much more fan focused than a media expo than E3 , but yes it's all marketing hype and publicity.
I agree that the gaming press will write about the upcoming games regardless of how they get details about it. E3 had historically been more drawing in attention from things like local newspapers or broadcast TV... which isn't really how most people get their news any more.