Game Developers Conference "Postponed" Amid Coronavirus Concerns

Courtesy GDC

Key participants such as Facebook Gaming, Sony, Microsoft and Epic Games had pulled out of the event over the past two weeks, citing health concerns amid the spreading pandemic.

The annual Game Developers Conference, scheduled to be held at San Francisco's Moscone Center in March, has been postponed.

"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 event wrote in a blog post Friday.

No specific date for when the event may take place in the future was provided, but Friday's post stated that GDC organizers "fully intend to host a GDC event later in the summer" and "will be working with our partners to finalize the details and will share more information about our plans in the coming weeks." If GDC were to be rescheduled for the summer, it could potentially fall into a tight window with June's E3 convention in Los Angeles. 

GDC is a major event in the games industry, welcoming developers and media from across the globe. Last year's event had a record attendance of over 29,000 individuals.

Over the past two weeks, a number of leading game companies have pulled out of planned appearances at the event, citing concerns over the spreading COVID-19, or coronavirus, pandemic. Sony, EA, Facebook Gaming, Kojima Productions, Unity, Epic Games, Amazon, Blizzard, Gearbox Software and Microsoft all had announced they would skip this year's conference over the past two weeks.

GDC tweeted out additional information for exhibitors affected by the postponement Friday afternoon, including an email that will be sent to registered passholders with information about refunds. All current paid registrants will receive a full refund "within 4-6 weeks," the GDC stated. Speakers who were planning on giving presentations at the event will have their talks made available online for free on GDC's YouTube channel. The planned Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Choice Awards, both scheduled to have taken place the week of March 16-20, will also be streamed online.

Following the GDC's announcement, the International Game Developers Association is partnering with Gamedev.world, an online "global game games conference" set for June 21-23, to raise funds to "alleviate the financial burdens on developers affected by the outbreak of COVID-19."

"With the effect of COVID-19 on conferences and international travel, many companies and developers have not only lost business opportunities and access to valuable talks, but their critical funds invested in travel, booth space, and passes to pursue these opportunities," the IGDA said. "In light of this, the IGDA would like to announce a partnership with GameDev.World to support both affected and all developers worldwide."

Earlier this week, San Francisco Mayor London Breed declared a state of local emergency in response to the growing pandemic. The GDC, in response, said the convention — scheduled to take place in the city from March 16 to 20 — was still "moving forward as planned."

GDC is not the only event in the video game industry affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Concerns about the pandemic have also hit the world of esports hard. Over the past few weeks, multiple events planned in Asia across leagues for games such as Overwatch, PUBG and League of Legends have been canceled, postponed or moved to areas outside of mainland China.