Despite cancelling its physical footprint due to the Covid-19 virus, GDC 2020 is carrying on in a fashion with a subset of planned talks now being delivered as GDC Virtual Talks that are wrapping up today. The physical conference, which should have been happening in San Francisco this week, has rescheduled for August. Organisers announced yesterday that they are now planning a three-day event called GDC Summer from August 4-6.
Although GDC is an industry event, the professional presentations about the design and development of games both big and small are always a welcome learning experience for those of us who can watch and read about the talks each year.
"GDC Summer will be a unique Game Developers Conference experience but will retain the same high level of expert-led talks as the traditional GDC, along with a freestyle two-day expo show floor August 5th and 6th," GDC say about the new format.
Although a handful of the planned 2020 talks have been recorded and livestreamed this week on GDC's Twitch channel, developers who were planning to attend are missing out on one of the biggest opportunities to network with other professionals. It seems that GDC Summer is specifically looking to supplement that lost chance for in-person meetings, especially for smaller developers for whom GDC's cancellation represents a huge missed opportunity to personally get their game in the hands of potential publishers or partners.
"GDC Summer 2020 will roll out a new community partnership program," organisers say. "Organisations will have the opportunity to apply for space onsite to host meetings and gatherings alongside the main event."
It all sounds positive, but as the United States is still addressing Covid-19 largely on a state-by-state basis, it's difficult to say whether an August date will be feasible. That's a whole five months away, but just yesterday the entire state of California (where GDC Summer will be held in San Francisco) has been ordered to stay home indefinitely aside from "essential jobs, errands and some exercise." Developers who had planned to attend GDC in person this week may yet be able to reschedule cancelled flights for the new August dates though it's impossible to say whether or not GDC Summer will be clear to go ahead when summer rolls around.
For now it seems best to take advantage of the free GDC Virtual Talks that were provided this week, apply to the GDC Relief Fund if you are a developer who was financially impacted by cancellation, and keep a weather eye on the plans for GDC Summer.
GDC 2020 is just one of many gaming coronavirus cancellations in the past month.