Due to the ongoing spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, the organizers behind GDC 2020 have shifted the event to an all-digital format that will be broadcast free for all. It will be “available to everyone with an internet connection.” The gaming industry has struggled, much like the rest of us, to rebound from these disruptions, and this development is a good sign that people are still going to get to enjoy gaming amid the crisis.
The spread of COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented level of economic and social disruption in the 21st century. More than 3.3 million people have contracted the viral disease, leading to more than 239,000 deaths globally, with many of these being in just the last three months. The ongoing spread has only been made worse by many refusing to abide by common sense and instead are trying to force an end to lockdowns and stay-at-home orders meant to slow the spread of the disease. This has been particularly felt in the United States where right-wing protesters, spurred on by Donald Trump and funding from right-wing groups like the DeVos family, have staged armed protests sometimes featuring crowds in the hundreds.
With that situation only getting worse, as the Trump administration continually pushes for “reopening” without the mass-testing necessary to track the spread of novel coronavirus, it looks like we could see disruptions of gaming plans until well in 2021.
“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,” said Informa Tech.
GDC 2020 had been previously moved from its original March dates to an August event, at the same time as confirmed cases in the United States began to spike. It’s worth noting that current confirmed cases in the US are above 1 million, with more than 65,000 deaths. So considering that situation, it makes perfect sense that the physical event was entirely canceled and now replaced.
As part of the new plan for the all-digital event, the organizers made their ambitions pretty clear. “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,” it continued. “We look forward to sharing more information about GDC Summer soon.”
The event coordinators did feature various pre-recorded “virtual talks” on their Twitch channel, offering a small snippet of the content that would have taken place at the event online.
And with other major events like E3 2020 and Gamescom 2020 getting scrapped too, although the former did originally plan for a similar all-online event, it makes sense that the GDC presenters would try to make up for the loss.