GDC reveals 2021 plans, including new hybrid event

Gdc 2019 Hero
Gdc 2019 Hero (Image credit: Carli Velocci / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Game Developers Conference ran its first completely virtual event from Aug. 4-6 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The event organizers will be mixing online and in-person activities for the 2021 show.
  • A series of online GDC Master Classes will launch later this year.

Almost all the big conferences scheduled for 2020 were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic and now it looks like event organizers aren't expecting business as usual to resume next year. After wrapping an all digital version of its signature event on Aug. 6, the team behind the Game Developers Conference announced today that they will be taking a hybrid approach for 2021.

The conference will take place from July 19-23, 2021, in San Francisco, but will also include a lineup of virtual programs. The mix will become the new default for the show. More information on how to participate will be revealed soon.

GDC is also planning several new digital-only activities. A series of Virtual Master Classes, which will provide deep dives into various game development topics over the course of multiple days, is launching later this year. Editorial staff from GDC's sibling Gamasutra will provide shorter lessons on game development and business trends and stream talks with industry leaders.

Also in the works is a GDC Community Celebration scheduled to run March 1-5, 2021. The event will feature lectures, Q&As, and interactive activities focused on some of 2020's top games.

This year's GDC was scheduled to take place March 16-20 in San Francisco, but was cancelled at the end of February after multiple companies pulled out based on concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. About 9,700 people registered for this month's virtual GDC, significantly fewer than the record-breaking 29,000 industry professionals that attended the event in 2019. An average of 545 people attended each session, with topics including how Disney created an RPG-like experience at its Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge theme parks and how Pokemon Go adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Samantha Nelson