Boston's preeminent video game convention will be one major exhibitor lighter than usual. Sony just announced that it's pulling out of PAX East due to safety/health concerns raised by the coronavirus outbreak.
In an update to its previous PAX East plans, Sony said "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."
The PAX East PlayStation booth was set to have hands-on opportunities with a lot of highly-anticipated first- and third-party games on PS4 including: The Last of Us Part II, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Nioh 2, MLB The Show 20, Persona 5 Royal, Predator: Hunting Grounds, and Spelunky 2.
This is hardly the first impact the coronavirus has had on the games industry. Switch manufacturing is slowing down, developer Virtuos hasn't been able to finish the Switch port of The Outer Worlds, and the Taipei Game Show was postponed to later this summer. However, those developments are all centered in and around China, where the coronavirus originated.
Sony doesn't want to jeopardize the health of its employees now that the virus has made its way abroad. PAX doesn't give official attendance numbers anymore, but PAX East hosts upward of 100,000 people over its four-day stretch. As anyone who has visited one of these conventions knows first-hand, they're a breeding ground for illness. Now that there's a more serious ailment potentially in the mix, Sony's prioritizing its employees and canceling PAX East plans altogether.