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Cyberpunk Red RPG studio R. Talsorian becomes latest publisher to exit Gen Con 2021 over COVID-19 concerns

“We write about Dark Futures for fun, but we also believe we have a responsibility to try and prevent them from happening.”

Gen Con 2019 show floor
Image credit: Gen Con

R. Talsorian Games, the RPG publisher behind Cyberpunk 2020 and Cyberpunk Red, has become the latest publisher to withdraw from this year’s Gen Con, citing worries over COVID-19.

Gen Con 2021 is set to return later this month, following its cancellation last year and delayed return from the summer in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Last year’s in-person convention in Indianapolis was replaced by the digital event Gen Con Online. This year’s return to the Indiana Convention Center from September 16th to 19th will be part of a newly hybrid approach split across the reduced-capacity physical show, Gen Con Online and pop-up game demos hosted in local stores.

In a statement posted to its official blog, R. Talsorian Games confirmed that it would no longer attend Gen Con 2021, having previously planned to exhibit at the show with its “biggest Gen Con yet”.

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The publisher, founded by Cyberpunk creator Mike Pondsmith and known for the seminal sci-fi RPG series, as well as The Witcher tabletop RPG and steampunk title Castle Falkenstein, said that ongoing concerns around COVID-19 had led it to withdraw.

“In good conscience, we cannot attend the convention,” the post reads. “The health and safety of our crew comes first and the numbers in Indiana are abysmal. The vaccination rates are too low, the positivity rates and new case rates too high, and the social mandates designed to protect people too few. If even one member of our crew caught COVID-19 while attending Gen Con or carried it home to their loved ones and their local community, that would be one too many.

“At R. Talsorian Games, we write about Dark Futures for fun, but we also believe we have a responsibility to try and prevent them from happening.”

Gen Con recently announced that it would enforce mandatory mask-wearing for all attendees, having previously said that visitors who prove vaccination would have the option to forgo a face covering. While the show stopped short of requiring attendees to prove vaccination for entry, president David Hoppe suggested such a condition could still be introduced in the weeks before the event opens its doors.

R. Talsorian stressed that it placed no blame on Gen Con itself for its decision to withdraw, stating: “We honestly believe they have done everything they legally and contractually can to make the convention as safe an experience as possible. Unfortunately, conventions never happen just inside the convention center. With airports, hotels, open spaces, and places to eat at play, the risk of infection is just too high.”

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The announcement makes R. Talsorian the latest influential publisher to exit Gen Con 2021, following the news that Asmodee - the board game giant that owns the makers of Catan, Pandemic, Arkham Horror, Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, Star Wars: X-Wing, Descent and more - and Pathfinder and Starfinder RPG studio Paizo would also not be present at the physical convention.

R. Talsorian added that it currently plans to attend Gen Con 2022, world events permitting.

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