Let’s get this straight: I’m sort of pissed off with large corporations pulling out of GDC this year. Yes, we are all aware of the novel virus and its outbreak, but apparently, there is not much decision-making based on facts. The virus is extremely transmissible, but so is common flu. Its lethal target, in the other hand, is concentrated on elders, especially those immunosuppressed (e.g. 2,5% of all contaminated, according to the WHO).
That being said, I do agree with APAC corps pulling out. At the same time, companies like Facebook, whose HQ is 30 miles from Moscone Center shocked me with pulling out of the show. It is what it is, but who wins and who loses with crippling out the biggest game development conference in the world?
Who loses: the ecosystem. Specifically, those who depend on the companies pulling out of the show. Dozens of developers and studios were looking forward and already spent top dollar to share their work (and learn) from Oculus and Unity, per example. A multi billion dollar corporation maybe feels comfortable on losing a few million dollars, but how about those who worked tirelessly a full year to be able to go to San Francisco, pay the badge and crazy overpriced accommodation, just to learn, 20 days from the show (basically when everything is far from refund) that the reason you are going simply stop existing? Note that, if the thing was completely out of control, I would not make these observations – but the situation is completely different.
Another highlight on the losing side must be UBM and its team. GDC is an year’s work, and now, chaos – 50% of south hall is doomed. What to do? My deepest sympathy for all of you.
Who wins: first, the ones who stay calm and firm. I would like to thank in advance for all the companies that I will see at the show floor on March 18th – everyone will take safety measures, but will not pull out of the show, making it worthwhile for the thousands who are flocking into the city.
Another clear winner is GDC Play. With a much lesser roar coming from South Hall, I believe North Hall will gain a LOT of attention, and that is fantastic, because there are the ones who can’t afford to “pull out”. They simply can’t cancel everything and eat the loss. So they will do it, regardless, and put up an amazing show with amazing indie content.
Finally, me and my company are committed and confirmed. We’ll be at GDC and support it as much as we can. There is no panic, there is no hysteria. Business will happen, as usual.