Electronic Arts pulls out of GDC over coronavirus concerns

Electronic Arts is not going to officially participate in the Games Developers Conference in San Francisco in March. The massive publisher told staff on Monday, February 24, that it is limiting its presence at the annual gathering of game creators. This comes amid growing concern over the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to more countries in Europe and Asia.

EA has over 9,000 employees with some located in countries that are actively fighting the spread of the virus. Putting a hold on travel should limit the company’s exposure to coronavirus. That in turn should limit its exposure to the financial risk of dozens of employees missing work due to illness.

Here is the note that EA chief people officer Mala Singh sent out to EA employees last night:

“We will be limiting our presence at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, March 16-20. We are cancelling our participation in official GDC events. And employees should not travel to San Francisco for the conference. For meetings that are set to take place outside of the conference and not within the event venue, we will evaluate on an individual basis if these should take place. If you have meetings planned around GDC and are unsure if you should move forward, please speak with your manager.”

While the CDC is not issuing any travel warnings for U.S. cities like San Francisco, EA doesn’t want to take any chances. It is also not the only company to pull out of GDC.

Sony pulled out of GDC and PAX East. Facebook and Oculus announced it would not participate as well. Japanese studios at Capcom, Square Enix, and Kojima Productions also cancelled plans to attend the conference.

I reached out to GDC for a comment. I’ll update this post with any new statement from the organizers.

EA staff work from home in affected countries

Fear of coronavirus is spreading as infections continue to show up in more countries around the world. While much of China is still dealing with lockdowns and quarantines, similar responses are beginning to take shape in South Korea, and Italy.

EA has employees in all of those countries. And for its part, it is doing its part to limit the spread of infection.

“In addition to the EA China team, employees in our South Korea and Italy offices are now working from home in alignment with local guidance following increased instances of exposure in those regions,” Singh wrote in her note to employees.

So EA is just one more company trying to continue business as usual while also looking over its shoulder at a potential pandemic.

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