Gaming fans and the tech community around the world are in for disappointing news as the organizers of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) announced on Friday, February 28 that the 2020 event will be postponed until "later in the summer" due to concerns over the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
The decision to cancel the event was reportedly taken after several major participants exited the event over the past few days.
The annual event which serves as a platform for several big names in the gaming industry to showcase their upcoming games was originally scheduled to take place from March 16 to March 20 in San Francisco.
"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 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," the organizers added.
Tickets will be refunded
A tweet from GDC organizer Simon Carless clarified that conference attendees who had already bought their passes for the event will be receiving refunds in full, and those who had booked hotel rooms within the "GDC room block" would be able to cancel their booking without any penalties. According to an email received by one of the attendees (procured by PCGAMER), the refunds will be processed in "4 to 6 weeks" time.
However, the refunds will be only for the passes, and many attendees will need to cover the cost of canceling their flight tickets and hotel booking (if they booked hotel rooms other the GDC room block) by themselves. Meanwhile, gamedev.world has announced in a tweet that it is organising a fundraiser called GDC Relief Fund to help offset the financial burden on marginalized developers.
Although the conference has been postponed, the organizers will be working to create online versions of some events. Some of the panelists who were supposed to give presentations at GDC will have an option to submit the talks in video format, and the organizers will post them online for free. The Game Developers Choice Awards and Independent Games Festival awards, which were to take place live at the conference will instead be streamed online on Twitch during the week of March 16.
Game Developers Conference
GDS is one of the gaming industry's longest-running and largest developer-facing annual event which began way back in 1988. It serves as a platform for industry professionals and game developers to network and share their ideas. The event has grown to become one of the gaming industry's biggest venues to host presentations and exhibitions from some of the largest game companies in the world such as Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Epic, Electronic Arts and practically every other game developer who use the conference to promote new games and discuss industry-related issues and it also helps independent studios gain recognition. The event is also famous for hosting the annual Game Developers Choice awards which celebrate the previous year's top games.
GDC 2020 was expected to be a huge draw as it featured a massive list of panelists and exhibitors.
Major exhibitors pull out
The massive exodus of exhibitors from GDC began last week when Sony and Facebook, which produces the Oculus VR headset, announced that they would be pulling out of the event due to coronavirus fears. The withdrawals continued with other major game studios such as Electronic Arts (EA), Epic Games, Iron Galaxy Studios, Microsoft, Amazon, Kojima, and Unity announcing their exits over the past few days.
The city of San Francisco where the event was to be held, has also declared a local health emergency as a precautionary measure to protect the city from the draft contagion.
Coronavirus impact on tech events
The GDC cancellation news comes merely days after the Mobile World Congress 2020 (MWC) event was cancelled as a result of many major exhibitors including Google, Amazon, Sony and LG pulling out from the biggest tech event for the mobile industry over coronavirus concerns.
The deadly epidemic has also impacted several other gaming events outside of GDC with CCP Games announcing the cancellation of EVE Fanfest 2020, earlier on Saturday. The PAX East event had to be rescheduled after game makers such as Sony, Square Enix, and PUBG Corp pulled out of the event and several game tournaments like IEM Katowice as well as several esports events have been cancelled or have denied access to public and opted to be an online affair instead.