Jul 19, 2021 - Technology

Game Developers Conference returns in virtual form

Illustration of a steaming mug of coffee with a cocktail umbrella.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Gaming's annual event where developers attend talks and share industry knowledge returns today for its 35th year, now as a fully virtual event.

Why it matters: Game Developers Conference is arguably one of the most important events of the year for developers because it focuses on education and networking.

  • While shows like E3 drum up consumer excitement with announcements and gameplay, GDC can help developers hone their craft and find jobs.
  • The conference typically takes place in San Francisco every March, though COVID restrictions have kept the show virtual since last year.
  • Although the virtual show recreates some of the conference's appeal, it's still missing its most important component: in-person connections. This makes the event's price tag — ranging from $349 for the expo, to $1,499 for all access, harder to justify.

Flashback: Organizers originally intended to throw GDC 2021 as a hybrid in-person digital show, before rolling that plan back into three different virtual events.

  • A collection of virtual workshops called GDC Masterclass took place on March 4 and 5, followed by a free showcase that ran later that month.

Highlights: There are hundreds of panels to attend throughout the course of the week, with dozens taking place — occasionally at the same time — each day. A few to look out for:

What's next: GDC 2021 will resume as a physical event in San Francisco from March 21–25.

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