The organizers of the annual Game Developers Conference, or GDC, have confirmed their plans for 2021's event. After 2020's plans had to shift suddenly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, next year's conference is meeting somewhere in the middle, as what GDC describes as a "hybrid physical/virtual event."
Taking place from July 19 through 23, GDC 2021 will take place both online and in-person at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA. According to a press release, the conference will offer a choice of attendance options and possibilities for GDC moving forward, with 2021 as the inaugural launch of this format. More info about this hybrid event, and how to submit lectures or apply to exhibit, will be available in the "near future."
GDC was just one of several events that had to quickly adjust plans earlier this year due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gamescom 2020 has digital format for later this month, while E3 2020 was officially canceled.
In GDC's case, the conference went all-digital with its Summer event following the postponement of its original 2020 plans. The recently-held event still had plenty of the talks you'd expect from the Game Developers Conference, from discussions about Pokemon Go's response to COVID-19 to one indie developer's experience with Xbox Game Pass. GDC says that over 9,700 people registered for GDC Summer, which is a heartening sign.
It remains to be seen if those numbers can carry over into a future where the prospect of hosting physical, in-person events still feels optimistic. Setting GDC 2021's hybrid status as the "inaugural" debut of a new format is interesting, though. It's hard not to wonder if, now that the shock of having to suddenly shift plans and try new formats is starting to wear off, companies will start to put more stock in digital venues for events.