Coronavirus leads to E3’s cancellation, plus SMITE and Pokemon Go postpone events

    
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Update: The ESA has now made it official. We’ve included the press release at the end of this article.

If you thought it was strange that the ESA kept digging in its heels over keeping E3 up, when far smaller and less important events were closing down left and right to avoid exacerbating or exposing attendees to the novel coronavirus that’s terrorizing the globe, then today’s revelation that it’s finally been called off will mollify you. GIbiz and Ars Technica point to a cryptic tweet from Devolver Digital as well as unnamed sources who’ve confirmed that the massive games industry lobby is preparing to make the announcement. Here’s Ars:

“One source who spoke to Ars on background said they’d heard the news of E3 2020’s cancellation ‘directly from ESA members’ and that an official, public statement on the matter ‘was supposed to be today [Tuesday, March 10] and slipped.’ Representatives for the ESA did not immediately respond to Ars Technica’s questions about the state of E3 going forward or whether the event’s seismic shift may instead mean a delay, a move to a completely different venue, or a wholly virtualized, live-streamed event.”

Last week, the company in charge of the convention’s creative direction resigned, which seemed to herald the move whether ESA felt it could afford to make it or not. Thus far, however, neither the organization nor the official E3 accounts have made the formal statement; the last update was from March 4th when the ESA said it was still monitoring the situation in LA. (We’ll update when they do.)

Meanwhile, we’ve seen closures of several other gaming events just in the last few days, adding to all the others in previous weeks: The SMITE Pro League Season Kickoff has been delayed at least three weeks, while Niantic has postponed Pokemon Go’s Safari Zone St. Louis, granting players refunds, and suggesting the event will be back in the next year.

News reports as of this morning suggest the virus has infected over 115,000 people, 1000 out those in the US, with 4200 deaths globally and little respite in sight.

More on the impact of the virus on gaming:

Update
The ESA has now made the official announcement.

“WASHINGTON – MARCH 11, 2020 – After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry – our fans, our employees, our exhibitors and our longtime E3 partners – we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020, scheduled for June 9-11 in Los Angeles. Following increased and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus, we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented global situation. We are very disappointed that we are unable to hold this event for our fans and supporters. But we know it’s the right decision based on the information we have today. Our team will be reaching out directly to exhibitors and attendees with information about providing full refunds. We are also exploring options with our members to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020. Updates will be shared on E3expo.com. We thank everyone who shared their views on reimagining E3 this year. We look forward to bringing you E3 2021 as a reimagined event that brings fans, media and the industry together in a showcase that celebrates the global video game industry.”

Update
Xbox announced a digital event too.

The World Health Organization has officially declared this a pandemic as of today.

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Phaserlight
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Phaserlight

To the gentle person below: it is more serious than the flu: average flu death rate is around 0.1%, WHO’s numbers estimate 3.4% for this. That’s 34 times more deadly on average, and if you look at Italy’s numbers and Trump’s own tweets about ‘~500 cases with 22 deaths’ (there are more, now), WHO’s estimates may be low. Trump’s own tweet puts it near 40 times as deadly, Italy’s numbers nearly 80 times as deadly. People over 40, 50, and 60 are disproportionately at risk. This has a different profile than the flu. Don’t panic, but don’t conflate the two:

https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/prevention-and-screening-articles/wuhan-coronavirus

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Malcolm Swoboda

~3.4% might still be an overestimation due to inconsistent testing so far, but whatever it is, I think the message is that its many times more threatening than the seasonal flu, and its particularly dangerous to the immune compromised (and potentially dangerous to robust immune systems).

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Sorenthaz

Meanwhile South Korea has reported over 7.7k cases so far and only 60 deaths with 288 deemed recoveries so far. Only 1% of cases were deemed serious/critical.

There is definitely some overestimating from the looks of it out of fear of what it could potentially do. That’s about all folks are going off of right now.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

The cynical part of me believes that the only reason why Flu season isn’t taken as seriously is because to do so would cause recessions since the Holiday Season might as well be considered our version of the planet Arrakis and as we know the Spice must flow no matter what.

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Schmidt.Capela

There’s not much you can do about Flu season. The virus mutates fast enough that it’s impossible to eradicate it — vaccines developed a year before are basically useless, and even ones developed in the last few months are only 40%-60% effective —, and is contagious enough most people who aren’t immune to the currently circulating strains will catch it before Flu Season ends.

At the same time having previously caught other Flu strains does give you partial immunity, meaning you are less likely to catch it, and if you do catch it the symptoms will be milder, than if it was an identically dangerous and contagious new virus.

This is where COVID-19 differs. It’s a new virus. No one is immune, even partially, which makes the whole situation far more dangerous. Think of how the introduction of common viruses and bacteria from Europe to the Americas caused a huge genocide, in some places reducing native populations by over 90%. Granted, COVID-19 is far less dangerous than the likes of measles and smallpox, but nevertheless a new pathogenic being introduced to the human race is still a highly concerning development.

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starbuck1771

W.H.O. has a habit of blowing thing’s out of proportion. Don’t forget they are the same group behind gaming addiction. The issue I take with this is all the fear mongering involved with this one.

Cancelling event’s doesn’t actually do squat but piss people off. Unless you live in a plastic bubble you still breath the same air as those affected. Proper hygiene, and health care are the main take away here. Not to mention the main risk area’s are age 70-90.

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Schmidt.Capela

W.H.O. has a habit of blowing thing’s out of proportion.

In this specific instance, no, they don’t seem to. In fact, many scientists and Infectologists have been accusing W.H.O. of dragging its feet. It was clear for some time that unless the whole world took measures similar to what China did — quarantining dozens of millions of citizens, extending holidays, drastically restricting travel, all of which are extremely costly measures from an economical point of view —COVID-19 would become a pandemic, but W.H.O. seemed to be downplaying the risk.

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NecroFox4

I suspect the virus story is just an easy out for the ESA. E3 has been on the ropes for a while.

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Danny Smith

They have a very pricey 10 year contract with the LA convention center and have spent the last year rabidly trying to push a ‘w-we are still relevant!’ narrative. This is a kneecap to them not an easy out.

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starbuck1771

((Deleted by mod. Not OK.))

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BalsBigBrother

I was going to type a long reply but I dont really have the time or energy so I will just go with tldr:

SIGH

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Utakata

The fact he said pansies though. That makes it a special kind of /SIGH. /bleh

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Syran

I wonder if we’d have this outbreak if people like you didn’t exist in the first place. I’d tell you to just take whatever risk you want and roll the dice, but you’re clearly the type of person who’d recklessly spread the virus to others, so that’s not gonna help. Maybe you’ll learn when you take a look at the economic impact and total death count in 6-12 months, but obviously it will be too late by then.

Cyclone Jack
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Cyclone Jack

Its not the catching it part that they are worried about, its the spreading it part.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

It’s about as serious as the Flu, which isn’t actually a joking matter as if people did what they were supposed to do and self quarantine we wouldn’t have large numbers of death world wide or tens of thousands in the US, that said it took an exotic sounding new virus to scare people into doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing in the first place and now the media is scaring the world into a global recession.

By the way don’t use the word pansies, it just makes you look like an ass hole.

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Armsbend

My grandfather had polio and was bound to crutches his entire life because of it.

Goddamned Pansy I told him as soon as I was old enough to speak.

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Danny Smith

And nothing of value was lost. E3 has been a trailer dick measuring contest rather than a industry trade show for years and when they opened it to the public it just became a shittier comicon. Nintendo got wise with their directs years ago about the idea that a self contained and controlled, post production effort to drop all your news is much more effective and Sony seems to have started to get the same idea while Microsoft, always known for being forward thinkers with the xbox brand seemed to be the only company putting all their chips on E3.

If it wasn’t Corona there was rumblings it was ‘not a thing to expect often in the future’ already and plenty of industry people seemed to have not been going anyway. Its just a waste of time and money.

But hey at least Todd can breath a sigh of relief that he doesn’t have to try and shill Fallout 76 and Elder Scrolls Blades again because they have nothing in house to show.

Cyclone Jack
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Cyclone Jack

Corona? Or Corona Extra?

Too soon? Probably too soon, but that won’t stop me.

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starbuck1771

Yeah whoever name’s these viruses should be sued for fear mongering. Swine flu, bird flu, and now Corona virus. All very specific names. Corona beer has been economicly hit due to fear of the name.

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Schmidt.Capela

Corona is the generic name for a huge number of viruses that shares certain similarities; the currently spreading one was just called that for a while because, well, it’s a previously unidentified (and, thus, unnamed) virus of that kind.

As for the others, they were strains of Flu viruses that already infected said animals before mutating enough to start infecting humans too. Which made them particularly dangerous because — like COVID-19 — they were new to the human race, meaning no one in the world was immune; they were infections like, well, the flu; and they could jump between species, making the named animals both vectors and stockpiles of the virus.

Cyclone Jack
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Cyclone Jack

Actually, Corona sales have gone up ~5% in the US. Granted, that could just be people picking up a case, and then texting their boss saying the got a case of Corona and can’t make it into work.

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McGuffn

that’s one way to beat the lie detector.

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Robert Mann

Actually, I’ve been more curious that people are freaking out about something on par or lesser than several dozen other illnesses each year in terms of danger.

Dantos
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Dantos

I think it has to do with how easily it spreads, how long the incubation time is, even with a fatality rate of 2-3%, if you believe the numbers, if it infects millions of people, that can still lead to alot of deaths. Combined with the fact that there is no partial immunity from historical exposure or vaccines like with the flu, which has a lower fatality rate of between 0.1-1% makes it worth concern.

Its also new, not something we have decades of data on like with the flu.

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Malcolm Swoboda

*Its also new/novel, meaning we don’t have resistance to it, so when it goes somewhere it goes everywhere without deliberate containment, and local healthcare becomes overwhelmed with higher numbers of hospitalized cases compared to seasonal flu and we experience levels of societal breakdown

Or at least, that’s the possibility.

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Armsbend

They are freaking out about it because it is an unknown. It might be incredibly more dangerous than any other sickness in the Earth’s history. We don’t know. Everyone breaking out their junior scientists badges by reading conflicting articles on pseudo-science frankly sound like idiots.

Real scientists are careful not to make judgement on viruses until they have real data. Not just guesses because a moron potus promotes the flu as being really bad or China is pumping fake events.

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starbuck1771

Correct and if it’s so bad how did my package containing my power supply for my PC get out of China a week ago. Things just don’t add up.

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Armsbend

Corona virus was a likely lifeline for E3. They can safely go back to the drawing board trying to salvage that dying (dead really) convention.