Last Friday, after multiple large publishers cancelled their appearances at the event, the yearly Game Developers Conference was postponed. Originally scheduled for March 16-20 in San Francisco, the conference has been postponed to “later in the summer” due to concerns about potential spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. GDC say they will refund the cost of passes to the conference to attendees but tickets to the event itself are hardly the only lost investment for smaller developers. Many may be unable to refund the cost of plane tickets, lodging, and other personal or business costs associated with preparing for a large industry event. Wings, in collaboration with several other indie game publishers, have opened applications to their relief fund for developers, which they say will be assessed based on “estimated impact.”
According to the statement by Wings co-founder Cassia Curran, the GDC Relief Fund has already raised over $76,500.
“The postponement of GDC at such short notice is completely unprecedented, and we’ve been blown away by how quickly the games industry has come together to help independent game developers suffering hardship as a result. … Our hope is that the GDC Relief Fund will make it easier for individuals and small teams that have been disproportionately impacted to deal with the recent developments.
“Beyond the initial financial costs, GDC being postponed means missed opportunities for indie developers hoping to pitch their games. Wings Interactive and certain fund partners are also offering online and distance meetings and pitch sessions.”
From the rising total of contributions, Wings say that the GDC Relief Fund will distribute funds based on need. “Supported developers will be selected according to the estimated impact of the postponement on their organisations and the financial hardship they are experiencing,” their statement says.
Beyond initial fundraising efforts, Gamedev.world are also hosting a fundraising week from March 27 – April 3. “For the duration of the week, we will present—for free, live-translated, and online—various talks from both marginalised developers and the sponsors that made the event possible,” they say. Funds raised will be added to the GDC Relief Fund. They will also be hosting a game jam in collaboration with Itch.io, proceeds from which will benefit the GDC Relief Fund.
GDC organisers say they will reschedule the conference for “later in the summer” but additional details are not yet available. Other events have also been impacted by concern over the spread of COVID-19 but as yet E3 is going ahead as planned. Granted, GDC said the same just days before it was postponed.