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Hey GDC, (maybe) it’s time to move.

by Andre Faure on 01/22/20 10:54:00 am

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Since this is my first post here at Gamasutra, let me start with introductions. I have the privilege of working in this virtuous industry for the last 22 years, always in leadership positions, from Marketing and Product Manager LATAM, XBOX to General Manager of the ZEEBO project at Tectoy/Qualcomm to Sr. Director, Games at RealNetworks. More than six years ago I have decided to invest in my own company, GamePlan, a consultancy specialized in Business Intelligence, Development and Marketing Strategy and Execution. Since 2014, we have served more than 180 studios and companies across the globe and the industry.

Well, from my minibio above, you now may have an idea of how much travel my work requires, and specially how critical it is form me to attend all the major game industry events (and there are SO many of them, right? But this is a matter for another post). The matter at hand right now is GDC, Game Developers Conference, happening every year at San Francisco, CA, USA. I’ve been a regular attendee since the San Jose days, and about to pack bags for another edition next March.

Here is where my post actually starts. It is time for GDC to move from SFO? I’ve been hearing some discussion pop here and there, and decided to join in for my first post. I’ll shoot my opinion bluntly: YES, GDC should move out of San Francisco. In my humble opinion, there is a plethora of reasons why, and just a few reasons why not.

Unfortunately, as years (and GDC editions) come and go, the overall situation for attendees has declines in many aspects. The city simply won’t stop getting more and more expensive, and the average attendee is not getting the value for buck spent. Accommodation is a nightmare, with low-end hostels charging more than 80 dollars a night. If you are not prepared to share a room and toilet with 5 other people, you will be paying 200+ dollars a night for subpar hotels. Only very large studios and companies have the luxury to afford a decent hotel and location, and hey, isn’t GDC supposed to be our annual game developer gathering?

Now, imagine you are not from the US. If you are from Asia, it could be worse. The west coast presence of the show is pretty good for Asia companies, but at the other hand, it is another crazy, expensive showdown for companies in Europa and Latam. I’m based in São Paulo, Brazil, and my whole trip to GDC is going to cost me half the price of a new car, just in accommodation and flights.

What about food? Transport? Well, you got my point. I have absolutely no problem with UBM. They deliver a great event, and the badge value is well worth it. But to actually get to the badge, you have to seriously invest in ephemeral collaterals. GDC is expensive, as a whole investiture.

Not only that, but SFO is getting more and more dangerous, and I honestly did not see any improvement for as far as I can remember. Although the homeless situation is something that I will not tap on, it does impact negatively the experience, and in last years, you could say they will not bother you – I can’t say that anymore. Last year, I stayed in a hotel that, only to discover by check-in, half of it was a city loan for public housing, and the price was just as any other “200ish” dollars a night. What? Is it simply not safe to walk at night – it was in “certain places” years ago, but now that unsafe feeling is everywhere?

I wonder why GDC insists with San Francisco. Yes, it is a beautiful city, just as beautiful as many other cities in the US, with better structure and great conference centers equally. I wonder how many years it will take until attendee rate starts to drop because of how hard it is to get to SFO and more, how expensive and unsafe it is. I’m just saying that because two of my clients were seriously questioning going to this year’s event. I’m thinking about why should I being selling GDC to them, as it should be happening organically.

In conclusion, I do believe there are better options for the show to grow and improve, and it would be much easier in a new, easier, safer, cheaper city. I do love GDC as I imagine most of you do – but it should always be improving, right? Just my two cents here, but I’d love to hear your thoughts! ‘Till next time, peeps!

 

 


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