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The 2021 Game Developers Conference won’t have in-person gatherings after all

But it will have three digital ones

illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The Game Developers Conference is changing course from its original (potentially risky) plan of hosting a hybrid in-person / digital event in 2021. According to an announcement on Thursday, GDC 2021 will be all-digital and split into three separate events to better and more safely accommodate the networking, games showcases, and instructional workshops and panels the event is known for.

The series of events will start with GDC Masterclass, a collection of virtual workshops and trainings for developers that will take place on March 4th and 5th. GDC Showcase, which will be open to the public and free to attend, will run from March 15th through 19th, featuring networking and lectures in “a new array of content and formats.” Finally, GDC 2021 proper will take place during the week of July 19th as a business and education-focused event. The Independent Games Festival (IGF) will also take place that week on July 21st.

Last year’s GDC was pushed back to the summer and held digitally, retitled as GDC Summer. Keeping the events digital in 2021 ensures the conference won’t become a potential COVID-19 superspreader event, a concern that hasn’t stopped this year’s Mobile World Congress from moving forward as an in-person convention.

Another added benefit of going digital is that it could make GDC 2021 a lot more accessible. Attending GDC in past years has been prohibitively expensive for some independent developers even before including the cost of staying in San Francisco for a week. A digital event should allow more people to attend without the expense of travel.