Mojang cancels real-world Minecraft Festival event over coronavirus concerns

It was only last week that Minecraft developer Mojang revealed September would see the return of its old MineCon live event format for one big real-world jamboree known as Minecraft Festival. Now, however, this year’s event has been cancelled over coronavirus fears.

Minecraft Festival – which promised interactive exhibits, competitive tournaments, and live entertainment – was due to be held from 25th-27th September at the Orange County Convention Center in Florida, and would have been the first official real-world Minecraft event since livestream replacement MineCon Earth’s debut in 2017.

Tickets for the event were originally set to go on sale this evening, but, “after careful consideration and much hand-wringing”, Mojang has opted to postpone its inaugural Minecraft Festival until next year.

“In recent weeks, the COVID-19 outbreak has led many organisers to cancel or postpone gatherings and events across the world, as a preventive measure to ensure the health and safety of their guests,” the developer explained in a blog post, “The situation around Minecraft Festival, however, is a little different. September is still many months away, and we are not making any predictions about how long it will take to put the outbreak behind us. This decision is rather a result of the extensive preparations required to organise a mammoth event like this.”

“Our partners, producers, and exhibitors are based in all corners of the world,” it continued, “and right now we can’t meet and collaborate in the way we need to. Without knowing exactly when we can resume planning, we have decided to postpone.”

The demise of this year’s Minecraft Festival doesn’t mean a complete end to Mojang’s original plans, however. Minecraft Live, the streamed event due to coincide with the real-world show, will still go ahead, promising “epic announcements, nail-biting excitement and deep-dives into the past, present and future of Minecraft.” A date and time will be revealed later.

Minecraft Festival is just one in a string of high-profile video game events to be cancelled today as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, which has so far resulted in over 101,000 reported infections and 3,348 deaths around the globe according to latest figures.

The Pokémon Company announced it was cancelling its 2020 Pokémon Europe International Championships earlier today, “out of an abundance of caution and pursuant to the current recommendations set forth by public health officials”, and coronavirus concerns have also lead to the cancellation of next month’s official Rocket League World Championship, and this year’s TwitchCon, which was due to take place in Amsterdam this May.

Meanwhile, the future of E3 is in doubt after Los Angeles declared a state of emergency due to coronavirus, although the ESA, which organises the event, believes the show will go ahead as planned in June. “The health and safety of our attendees, exhibitors, partners, and staff is our top priority,” it said in a statement earlier this week, “While the ESA continues to plan for a safe and successful E3 show June 9-11, 2020 – we are monitoring and evaluating the situation daily.”

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