Square Enix is reducing its presence at PAX East, specifically around Final Fantasy 14-related events, citing health concerns over the novel coronavirus.
"As the community may be aware, COVID-19 (also known as 'novel coronavirus') is spreading within the East Asia region," the company said on the official Final Fantasy 14 website. "Taking into consideration the current situation within the region, sadly Square Enix has decided to cancel the PAX East attendance of staff who would be travelling from the Japan offices. This difficult decision was based on our desire to prevent any potential spread of the virus and to prioritize the health and safety of our team and our fans."
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Square Enix is therefore scaling back its presence and canceling the panel session "The Artwork of Final Fantasy 14 : A Look Behind the Screen," two developer signing sessions, and the FF14 fan gathering scheduled for Feb. 28. Square Enix says it still plans to host a livestream from Japan on Saturday, Feb. 29 at 8 p.m. ET on the Final Fantasy 14 Twitch channel.
The Final Fantasy 14 booth will still be at the event, with attendees able to battle the new Ruby Weapon boss and win a shirt if they're successful. Other events related to Final Fantasy 14 , Final Fantasy 7 Remake, and Outriders will still take place at PAX East.
Earlier this week, Sony Interactive Entertainment announced it was canceling its PlayStation presence at PAX East, citing similar novel coronavirus concerns.
The current coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan City, China, in late 2019. Originally thought to be pneumonia, the novel coronavirus spread within the region. The Chinese government is restricting travel in the affected area in an effort to contain the virus. According to Vox, the virus has already infected more than 75,000 people in two months. Of them, more than 2,100 have died.
Concerns over the virus have led to cancellation or postponement of some esports events in China, multiple game companies withdrawing from this year's Game Developer Conference, and delays in development of some games being worked on in the region.