Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, the organizers of the Game Developers Conference have announced major changes to how the event will take place this year.
GM Katie Stern said in a blog post that there continue to be “many unknowns” in the world as it relates to the virus, but the group is intent on pushing forward to hold GDC this year.
“Our goals are largely the same: providing resources and great content as well as networking and discussion platforms to connect the industry. But the new constraints around in-person gatherings and travel also brought creativity, and we have been able to develop new formats, and new ways to offer content and community support throughout the year,” Stern said.
With that in mind, this year’s event–which is the 35th anniversary of the show–will be spread across a “family” of GDC events.
These will each “deliver high-quality, curated content in more flexible and accessible ways online, as well as designing events that play to the strengths of virtual conferences, including more fluid networking and matchmaking opportunities.”
Attendees can expect a lot of what they were already getting from the in-persons hows, including “deep dives for specialized areas” of the gaming industry and “unique showcases” that will explore “timely topics” across themes. There will also be a “curated conference program,” while the event’s awards shows are still going ahead.
“We are very excited to bring the game development community this thoughtful set of experiences, content and services that we hope will enhance our industry, help share learnings, create connections, and inspire great games,” Stern said.
The GDC 2021 schedule will be as follows:
- GDC Masterclass (March 4-5) — This will consist of one- and two-day virtual workshops that will “deliver in-depth, hands-on training around some of the most important challenges facing game developers today.” According to Stern, GDC has recruited “some of the sharpest minds” in gaming for these classes.
- GDC Showcase (March 15-19) — This is a free, all-digital event that will include spotlight lectures, AMAs, and interactive panels with developers.
- GDC 2021 (July 19-23) — This is the traditional GDC experience, running for a week, but it will be virtual this year instead of taking place at its normal home in San Francisco. “We did consider an in-person component this year, [but] we have decided that it’s more important that our speakers, attendees, and sponsors be able to plan ahead, to continue to be as safe as possible, and to spend our attention on delivering the best possible GDC,” Stern said.
- Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Choice Awards (July 21) — This is the annual awards show that celebrates the games of the past year. It will be streamed via the official GDC Twitch channel.
- More — Stern said the team is planning more GDC-branded events for the second half of 2021, and these will be announced later.
GDC is not the only big gaming show to change plans for 2021 due to the virus. The organizers of E3 have also confirmed that this year’s show will be “transformed,” but we’re still waiting to find out exactly what that means.