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GDC 2020 postponed - and what that means for you

GDC has been moved to the summer, causing thousands of developers to reevaluate their plans

After two weeks of major companies pulling out of the Game Developers Conference one after another due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19), GDC 2020 has been postponed from its original March 16-20 dates. While no official dates have been announced yet, GDC plans on hosting its annual event later this summer.

With this news, a lot of folks are confused and concerned about their upcoming trip to San Francisco. This post gives an overview of what we know about the situation, some options for how to adjust or cancel an existing trip, and efforts being put together to help developers recover losses from the event's postponement.

Modified GDC Events

Even though the event will no longer be taking place during the week of March 16, GDC will be livestreaming a variety of events throughout that week. Conference speakers will have the opportunity to submit their talks digitally, for distribution on both the GDC YouTube channel and the free portion of the GDC Vault. GDC will be reaching out to speakers in the coming days in regards to how to submit talks.

The annual Independent Games Festival will be streamed this year on the GDC Twitch channel, along with the Game Developers Choice Awards. No news has yet been given if it will take place at the same time, or how award recipients will accept their awards.

GDC Ticket Refunds

All GDC ticket holders will be receiving a full refund in the next 4-6 weeks. GDC Vault access will be sent out within the next three weeks to all applicable ticket holders. An email regarding the specifics of the refund process will land in inboxes soon.

Hotel & Flight Refunds

While there's no guarantee that hotel stays or flights will get refunded, many companies are willing to help, especially in light of San Francisco declaring a state of emergency in response to COVID-19. (The state of emergency is just a preventative measure, to allow the county to better prepare for a potential outbreak of the virus.)

Regardless of the outcome, please treat customer service staff with kindness and patience, as they also have to deal with the stress of high volumes of customers cancelling their plans. Being rude is not only discourteous, but is likely to make any staff member less inclined to spend the necessary time to properly address requests..

Hotel policies vary from nonrefundable booking to fee-free cancellation, so individuals will need to check with their hotel to find out the specifics of the hotel's cancellation policy. Those who purchased their rooms through the GDC hotel portal will face no fees or penalties for cancellation.

For those wishing to cancel or reschedule flights, airline hold times are likely to be longer than usual over the weekend due to the high volume of flights being cancelled due to the event's cancellation. Some airlines have a refund policy for causes of force majeure (unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract). By sending the airline proof of GDC being cancelled and how it affects your plans, the airline may be able to refund tickets thanks to this policy.

However, if an airline doesn't have this in its refund policy, it may be willing to work outside its usual policies if the full situation regarding the state of emergency and coronavirus concerns are mentioned. Some airlines may only be able to offer travel vouchers or reduced fees on flight changes, if anything at all.

For those who can't cancel their plans, there will still be things to do and get togethers happening in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Other Events

With GDC bringing together game developers from all over the globe, many events have cropped up over the years. While many of them have been cancelled or rescheduled for the summer, new events are being created to fill the void of GDC for those in the area.

Emily Rose is gathering input from developers who will be in the area to help organize more things to do while folks are in town.

Train Jam 2020, the 7th annual game jam on a train, is still full steam ahead. Any developers interested in jamming from Chicago to San Francisco aboard a train should keep an eye on the Train Jam Twitter, as some attendees are reselling their tickets. Train Jam 2020 takes place March 12-14.

#notGDC, the online alternative created in response to the high cost of entry for GDC, will be hosting talks on their website throughout the week from speakers from all over the world.

More, smaller events are likely to pop up in circles, so keep a lookout on social channels for meetups and happenings the week of what was GDC.

Is Travel Safe?

Right now, there is no coronavirus outbreak in San Francisco. However, because it is a major international hub, there is a chance of an infected individual unknowingly bringing the virus to the area.

Organizer Adriel Wallick sent the following to Train Jam attendees:

If you are traveling from abroad or are immunocompromised [...] please take precautions for your own safety. While we are doing everything we can to create a safe and healthy environment for everyone, we recommend that you talk to your doctor or other medical professionals to ultimately decide if you will attend Train Jam 2020.

Whether or not it is safe to travel is a case-by-case basis. It is up to each person to evaluate if travel is a safe option.


If news of the GDC cancellation has caused you stress, uncertainty, disappointment, or sadness, you're not alone. Take This has created a coping guide to give conference goers some pointers on how to navigate in light of the news.

Relief Efforts

WINGS Interactive has partnered with, Landfall, Raw Fury, Modern Wolf & The Games and Online Harassment Hotline to organize a GDC relief fund to help alleviate the burden for developers who have invested time and funds on travel, passes, preparations, and booth space. As of this time, the fund has raised $35,000 USD, with goals of distributing up to $800 per developer/studio. Deadlines are tight: developers have until March 2nd to apply for the fund.

In addition to the fund, will be hosting a fundraising event from March 27th to April 3rd., the global game developers conference live-translated to 8 languages, will be hosting not only free talks during that week, but also a Pay-What-You-Want game bundle as well as a game jam.

We created this post to help inform GDC attendees in an effort to help developers make decisions on how to adjust their plans following the event's postponement. indie(Function); takes no responsibility or liability for any damages or harm caused by any conclusions or decisions made from the information contained and linked to within this post.