Even though the PS5 is poised to launch later this year, Sony has been conspicuously event-averse in the first half of 2020. The company attended CES and briefly teased the upcoming PlayStation 5 console, but made the decision to skip E3 once again and now dropping out of PAX East just over a week before that show begins. The reason: coronavirus.
If PlayStation plans to eschew the industry's large public events, then we may be getting more digital events like State of Play in the near future. Valuable marketing for upcoming PS4 games like The Last of Us Part II and Final Fantasy VII Remake is being passed up, but Sony will likely use other methods to bring attention to its impressive 2020 lineup of software and hardware.
On February 13, the PlayStation Blog unveiled Sony's PAX East plans. Games like The Last of Us Part II, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Iron Man VR, Nioh 2, and Cloudpunk were poised to all be present with hands-on demos. The company seemed very gung-ho about the PAX as recently as last week, but posted Wednesday it has cancelled plans to attend due to coronavirus.
"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")," the post says. "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."
This cancellation raises questions about Sony's marketing strategy for spring 2020, and it's not yet clear how coronavirus may impact the company's presence at upcoming industry events, like Game Developers Conference in March.
That conference, which is typically used to network and set up deals with developers, has already confirmed that "around 2 percecnt of the total GDC attendance" will not be coming to the March event this year because of "stringent U.S. travel and safety restrictions implemented on February 2." Sony has not yet disclosed its plans for GDC 2020.
With anticipation for PS5 news simmmering, and no confirmed industry events in sight, a new State of Play in March or April makes a lot of sense. Given the coronavirus risk, this presentation format makes a lot more sense, and could allow Sony to keep its cards close to the chest with regard to PS5 pricing just a little bit longer. Will they Sony hold a big event like it did for the PS4, or will it follow Nintendo's approach with the Switch with a simple trailer?
Inverse has reached out to Sony for comment and will update with any response.