Minecraft‘s return to convention floors will have to wait another year. Concerns over the new coronavirus have convinced Mojang to call it quits on this year’s Minecraft Festival – a planned three-day Florida block party for all things Minecraft this September. Rather than risk the outbreak ending later rather than sooner, organisers are sticking to the online-only format that’s served them well the last two years as they prepare to try this live show lark again next year.
For the last few years, Mojang had ditched their globe-hopping Minecon live events for the wholly-online Minecon Earth. Minecraft Festival aimed to be an explosive revival of the live format, a three-day affair full of performance, interactive exhibits and tournament play running September 25-27 in Orlando, Florida.
But while organisers were prepared to go ahead as recently as a week ago, our old friend Covid-19 has hit the brakes on this year’s “blockstravaganza” (their word, not mine). Because of the “extensive preparations required to organize a mammoth event like this”, Minecraft Festival organisers have chosen instead to try again next year. It’s still unclear how long this outbreak will last, they claim, and would rather a clean break than risk waiting out the virus.
“In recent weeks, the COVID-19 outbreak has led many organizers to cancel or postpone gatherings and events across the world, as a preventive measure to ensure the health and safety of their guests,” Mojang wrote in their postponement 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.”
Despite revealing the event last September, it was only last week that Mojang put up ticket details – sales of which were set to go up yesterday. If there’s any consolation, Minecraft Live – a planned, entirely live-streamed supplement to the convention proper – will still run ahead as planned. If Mojang had any surprise reveals to announce during the fest, it’ll likely now take place online.
The list of shows shutting down over the new coronavirus has only grown over recent weeks. The big one, obviously, was GDC’s last-minute cancellation. But from Eve Fanfest to Rocket League Championships and South Korean Overwatch League matches, organisers the world over are playing it safe until the outbreak blows over.
Disclosure: In a past life, I worked as a level builder at Minecraft’s console porting house 4J Studios. Granted, that was a good half-decade ago at this point, but I’m still mates with a few artists there and – as far as I can tell – my work is still sitting on the Windows 10 version of the game.