Besides the high cost of hardware making it inaccessible, VR has come to find a new enemy in the form of the Coronavirus. Over the past few weeks, a slew of industry related events have been cancelled amidst rapidly mounting health concerns, which are detrimental to the gaming industry as a whole, including of course, the VR industry.
Facebook was the first to cancel its F8 developer conference which was set to take place in early May. Facebook also pulled out from the Game Developers Conference along with a handful of industry giants including the likes of Microsoft, Sony and Epic Games. Initially, the GDC tried to weather this blow, and was still going to go forth, even if it’s host city San Francisco was declared to be in a state of emergency.
It wasn’t long however before more and more developers started pulling out, and GDC, ended up running into some issues as well. The good news is that while F8 was completely cancelled, as of the writing of this article the GDC is only postponed to a later date, so we might very well still get it once matters settle down. GDC has historically been a place for many highlights of the VR industry. Many VR games made their debut in conferences of the past, as did hardware including the Oculus Rift S and the Playstation VR.
Mobile World Congress 2020, which was to take place in Barcelona was also cancelled, and most recently, NVidia announced their GPU Technology Conference would not be hosted physically, but will be livestreamed instead. Many people suggested that Facebooks F8 conference should be hosted in Virtual Reality as well, but no such announcement was made as of now. (Though one has to admit it would have a fairly unique and innovative edge.)
Overall, the Coronavirus seems to have taken the world by storm. Some people claim it’s much less harmful than it’s portrayed to be, but most people (and companies) seem to err on the side of caution. No such thing as playing it too safe when it comes to a disease with no solid cure yet. We can only hope this storm blows over soon and that its effects are not too detrimental to our industry.