It's been a gradual process, but this year's GDC event has finally committed to going "all-digital."
The organizers of the San Francisco-based Game Developers Conference went from scrapping the annual March event as we know it and giving out industry awards remotely to planning a physical replacement, GDC Summer, for August 4-6, 2020. Now, inevitably, they're "moving forward with a plan to transform GDC Summer into an all-digital event in order to best serve our community."
"As so many game developers embrace remote working arrangements and online collaboration, we're inspired to adapt and deliver GDC in a digital format that will be available to everyone with an internet connection, and will work hard to deliver the high-quality content and networking opportunities GDC attendees have come to expect," the organizers said today in a blog post.
"We believe in the power of gathering our community to share, inspire, and strengthen our industry and are committed to providing that opportunity in August." Details will be shared in the coming weeks.
GDC Summer's previously scheduled "freestyle two-day expo show floor" can't happen remotely, but presumably at least some of the promised "expert-led talks" can carry on in the new at-home format. In the meantime, the organizers have uploaded a selection of pre-recorded GDC 2020 talks to YouTube.
There's still so much stomach-churning uncertainty in the world – not just directly tied to COVID-19, but also ripple effects that'll persist for years – that I'm anxious about GDC 2021 and future events. I'm curious to see how the show-runners, sponsors, and on-the-fence attendees react. Networking, in general, is a big question mark in the age of coronavirus. That's a crucial component for many industry events that isn't so easily replicated remotely. They can't let those opportunities fall through the cracks.
One day at a time, though. For now, it's reassuring to see GDC Summer make this call.