GDC 2021 goes digital-only, Masterclass sessions and Showcase in March

Katie Stern talks GDC 2021's plans, and how the outlook of this year's conference has changed from its initial announcements, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

GDC 2021 is going completely digital, after plans to host a hybrid event both in-person at its usual location, the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA, and online. 

The event has since announced it will go completely digital in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of just a week of events, it is expanding to several different events over several weeks, beginning this March and concluding July 23. 

“2020 was a singular year in all of our lives,” Katie Stern, vice president of Entertainment market and Informa, said in a statement. “I personally navigated the weird world of having a baby in the middle of a pandemic. And for us as GDC, as an organization that traditionally poured so much into one week of the year, we had to adapt, be agile and modify all of our plans.

Going into 2021, we still have many unknowns, but we have been able to look at the year ahead and reimagine how we can serve the game industry. Our goals are largely the same: providing resources and great content as well as networking and discussion platforms to connect the industry,” Stern’s statement continues. 

“So, as Game Developers Conference celebrates its 35th edition this year, rather than pack everything into one week, we are hosting a family of GDC events that will deliver high-quality, curated content in more flexible and accessible ways online, as well as designing events that play to the strengths of virtual conferences, including more fluid networking and matchmaking opportunities.”

GDC 2021 will kick off with GDC Masterclass from March 4 to 5. This a series of one-to-two day workshops from game industry professionals, surrounding anything and everything devs are facing today. 

From March 15 to 19, the GDC Showcase will take place entirely online as a free-to-attend event with panels, AMAs, podcasts, lectures and more. 

The Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Choice Awards will occur during the flagship event on July 21. Nominations are already in, and nominees are expected to be announced in May. 

GDC 2021’s flagship event will take place from July 19 to 23. Its intended in-person component has been canceled. Stern’s statement says the flagship event will include “filled with deep content developed with our advisory board, a focus on community-building, networking and celebrations that GDC is known for.”

Registration for paid masterclass sessions and the free-to-attend showcase is already live on its website.

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