Following the exit of several major exhibitors, the organizers of the Game Developers Conference said Friday that the show, originally scheduled to take place from March 16 to 20 in San Francisco, will be postponed until the summer due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus.
“After close consultation with our partners in the game development industry and community around the world, we’ve made the difficult decision to postpone the Game Developers Conference this March,” the show’s official statement said. “We fully intend to host a GDC event later in the summer. We will be working with our partners to finalize the details and will share more information about our plans in the coming weeks.”
GDC said that conference attendees would be refunded in full for their tickets, and that anyone who booked a hotel in a GDC room block would be able to cancel without penalty.
Panelists who would have given presentations at GDC will have the option to submit those talks in video form, and GDC will post them online for free. The Game Developers Choice Awards and Independent Games Festival award shows, which take place live at GDC, will instead be streamed on Twitch during the week of March 16.
GDC is one of the video game industry’s longest-running annual shows, having begun in 1988. An annual conference for video game developers to network and share ideas, GDC has since grown into one of the industry’s most important venues for presentations by both AAA and independent studios. GDC 2020 featured a massive list of panels on every conceivable subject related to video game design and production, with talks from Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Epic, and practically every other major video game firm.
The massive exodus of exhibitors from GDC 2020 started last week, when Sony and Facebook, which produces the Oculus VR headsets, announced they would be pulling out of the event due to the worldwide spread of the coronavirus. The last few days have seen a stream of similar announcements from Microsoft, Epic, Amazon, Blizzard, Kojima Productions, Gearbox Software, Iron Galaxy Studios, and Unity. Several media outlets also announced that they would not be attending the show.
GDC is the latest of many events to shut down over coronavirus concerns. Both the Mobile World Congress and EVE Fanfest have canceled in the last week, as well as several esports events and venues.
The cancellation of GDC presents an even greater challenge for small and independent game studios, which have likely spent significant money on their GDC travel plans that cannot be refunded. The online game development conference GameDev.World said that it would hold an online event and fundraiser to alleviate the financial burden of small developers who will miss out on GDC.
Starting March 27, GameDev.World will host a week-long series of free, streamed talks from developers. It will also collaborate with itch.io on a bundle and game jam meant to raise funds for the GDC Relief Fund. The International Game Developers Association also said it would partner with GameDev.World on these efforts.
Update: 7:11 p.m.: Added details about ticket and hotel refunds.
Update: 7:17 p.m.: Added details about GDC talks and events.
Update: 7:36 p.m.: Added details about the GDC Relief Fund efforts.