PAX East 2020 Goes On Despite Coronavirus Concerns

While concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19) caused developers to back out of PAX East this year, the event nevertheless took place in Boston, MA as planned. Sony lead the pack when it announced its intention to withdraw for the safety of their employees in mid-February, followed soon after by Square Enix, Capcom, Facebook, PUBG, and others. During PAX, which ran from February 27th – March 1st, the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco also announced that they would be postponing their event, which was scheduled to take place from March 16th to the 20th.

While the expo hall may have been emptier than usual, that didn’t stop tens of thousands of video game enthusiasts from arriving in Boston to check out the largest video game conference on the east coast. Despite the number of people flying in from around the country and internationally, spirits were high as fans and developers enthusiastically engaged in animated discourse, both literally and figuratively, over their favorite games. However, while health concerns didn’t prevent most fans and professionals from coming, many still took precautions.

Convention center staff could be seen cleaning and sanitizing escalator handrails, doors, and other high-traffic surfaces throughout the weekend, and increased the number of hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes available throughout the building. Some attendees wore facemasks, and a few developers handed out mini hand sanitizers in place of their usual swag, offered elbow-bumps instead of handshakes, and regularly wiped down console controllers to prevent the possible spread of infection.

Studios who decided to participate despite health concerns were still often affected by the wide-reaching impacts of the virus as overseas production stalled, resulting in product delays and lower merchandise inventories. Though the global health crisis is far from over, most attendees showed minimal concern regarding the possibility of contracting the disease during the weekend, instead focusing on their excitement for the event’s offerings.