When big game companies first came out of the Game Developers Conference, originally scheduled for mid-March in San Francisco, attendees began to worry about the truth of the event – whether it actually happened as it turned out. novel coronavirus it spreads all over the world. On Friday, organizers confirmed the conclusion of the annual meeting: GDC postponed until summer to raise concerns about the virus.
The big companies that have released – such as Microsoft, Sony, Epic Games, Amazon, and Blizzard activation – will be affected by the postponement of the event, but independent developers will face more responsibility. Developers without business sponsorship face uncertainty about reimbursement for travel, as well as lost opportunity for event scarcity. After its postponement, however, numerous attempts have appeared to help developers regain the lost opportunity and money. The GDC Assistance Fund, set by ANIMALS Work, gamedev.world, along with publishers, have raised $ 76,500 in donations to distribute among those in need.
"GDC is a coveted event for many independent developers," said gamedev.world executive director and game developer Rami Ismail. “That makes it the kind of thing that people would bet with all their money. He is not out of that money (after the postponement), so it is clear that he is the most impactful. Not just for the money, but also for the loss of opportunity. Money is gone, but that means the opportunities that the money can give out are gone. ”
Goutham Dindukurthi is one such developer. Through his studio, Holy Cow Productions, Dindukurthi expected to attend GDC as part of the Indie Megabooth featuring The Mystery Pillars, a puzzle game inspired by a South board game called Ali Gane Four. Four developers from the studio, based in Bak Bangalore, India, have decided to attend an event based in San Francisco to get a chance to show the game on a global level, though it was expensive to attend. Dindukurthi said the studio is expected to spend at least $ 6,000 on flights and other expenses, excluding tickets (which are covered by Indie Megabooth people). But despite the financial costs gained since the postponement – reimbursement for travel expenses is not guaranteed, but Dindukurthi is "optimistic" – Holy Cow has focused on its rollout plan around GDC.
"Cancellation is a big problem for us," Dindukurthi told Polygon. “The reason we launched our game this time was to help and to get the word out. Now that we have yet to find that out, we are thinking about the next steps – but something we are sure will have an impact on the success of our game. "
Dindukurthi went on to say: “Being a small Indian producer and publishing the game itself has become a challenge. This will be our biggest introduction and one chance to get a lot of eye on our game. ”
The Mystery Pillars it is expected to be released on March 4 on a Windows PC, Dindukurthi said. (The game has run out of iOS devices.) If GDC was redesigned in the summer, many smaller studios, including Holy Cow, would probably not be there; the costs incurred are already enormous.
"San Francisco is expensive enough to go once a year," says Ismail. “Twice a year is not an option for most people. The (postponed) view is good, but effectively canceled until 2021. ”
Some developers are considering going to San Francisco though, in an effort to connect and show their games to others in the city, which is the center of game development. Anna Guxens, a software engineer based in Barcelona 3byte, told Polygon that his studio may not be moving to San Francisco in March, but he needs to explore its options. Without a refund for the trip – without the passing of the GDC, which organizers say will be refunded – the group expects to lose $ 2000.
"(It may sound a small joke to many, but for us, it's a huge investment that should have made significant development work," Guensens said.
Gamedev.world event producer Myriame Lachapelle added that San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in America – and the United States is one of the most restricted countries to enter as foreign developers.
Guensens said the studio considers GDC "an excellent opportunity to reach other countries" through its play, Pizza status, a "social network simulator" that allows online culture to "discuss the many problems that Internet health has brought." 3bytes is an all-female team, Guensens said. “We really want to give the game a perspective on narrative, composition and diversity,” he added.
In addition to the formal postponement of the event, developers are expected to call online and someone to use the GDC deadline. A free, three-day event is scheduled for March 16-18 in San Francisco. It's called altGDC
Another is that notGDC, scheduled for March 18-24 and takes place mainly online.
"The community is trying to communicate at any cost, especially because we are all saving that week to focus on the GDC," said Daniel Rojas, a Chilean-based birdwatcher. Crying Captain), he told Polygon. "(Connecting with) other developers is one of the most important things you can do there."
Rojas and another member of the group have decided not to travel to San Francisco, and will not be reimbursed for travel and accommodation altogether – about $ 2000.
There are many opportunities for smaller studios to visit GDC, which is why developers are putting themselves at risk and, often, financial loss, the move. Independent Game Developers Association executive director Renee Gittens told Polygon that the stations were moving in hopes of finding publishers or announcing the media. "The delay or cancellation of an event means that those opportunities can now make it too late for them to continue to meet," Gittens said. "The successful Studios may be shut down due to this reorganization."
Assistance efforts and online events can help reduce those losses. The organizers of the GDC Relief Fund said there was much to be gained from the details, but that the group was working quickly to coordinate fundraising efforts and to distribute the grant money. Sponsors, such as Raw Fury, gamedev.world, Triband, and Landfall Games, have helped reach the $ 76,500 fundraising mark.
WINGS Interactive CEO Cassia Curran told Polygon that "without the GDC Relief Fund, many indie developers would face a very difficult situation."
"Some of the issues that come with it are sad people – people who are worried about food, gas, and travel insurance so they can come to GDC, gamble on getting money for their game, now face all their meetings with canceled and non-refundable airline tickets and hotels, not to mention visas and more. financial difficulties for foreign travelers. "
People at the "established companies" remember what it was like to independently follow the game, Curran said. "Warhorse Studios has made a huge contribution to this fund, saying, & # 39; We remember our difficult start and the importance of doing business development at GDC, knowing full well that without GDC we wouldn't be where we are now, & # 39; added.
Ismail said that, in addition to the donations, gamedev.world will help run the jam game where the pile of games goes straight to the fund. A large number of commercial games, where profits will benefit affected engineers, are also expected.
Most of the developers we spoke to do not blame the GDC organizers for this decision – it was hard to do for all involved.
"We are truly devastated and disappointed at not being able to handle it at this time," the GDC lawyer said in a statement. Organizers said the conference and attendees will receive a “full refund.” Similarly, people who have made hotel bookings through the GDC space room "will not pay any penalties or fees associated with their booking."
Polygon reached out to GDC for more details on the refund.
Engineers are just worried and confused about the impact of the procrastination – not sure how it will affect their future.
"The lack of communication over the few days that many companies were out was frustrating for me and others," the rhythm game It is not defeated Producer Jeffrey Chiao told Polygon. “What about us? What about the students who spend thousands hoping that GDC will be the best in their career? What about the young engineers hoping to find important deals for the event? ”
There are many questions – some of which raised concerns about relying on an inaccessible event or the struggle of many – and the answers below. In the meantime, the GDC Help Fund and events such as notGDC and altGDC are hoping to provide temporary support.
"Gamedev.world is meant for those around the world who can't go to other countries to listen or share their stories," said event organizer Lachapelle. For those who can or want to travel, but are denied their visas. For those who want to understand what others have to say, but cannot speak or understand the languages of others. fundraiser. ”
Update: The story was updated to include an interview with Wings Interactive official Cassia Curran.