Sections

A week to GDC 2012: why there’ll be no keynote

Monday, 27th February 2012 09:46 GMT By Patrick Garratt

GDC 2012 kicks off a week today and will have no main keynote. Event director Meggan Scavio tells VG247 that an alternative “Flash Forward” sessions will provide “a more colorful way to think about the conference and the industry.”

“We view keynotes as an opportunity to assemble the collective GDC in one room and kick off the main conference. How we do that and who is on that stage changes every year.”

GDC 2012 will have no main keynote. The move has been a long time coming, as recent years have seen the event fight to balance its role in providing a safe forum for developers with the needs of the ever-hungry press.

“Are we having a main keynote at GDC this year? Yes and no,” GDC MD Meggan Scavio told VG247. “This year we’re introducing the Flash Forward, and by doing so we’re really making GDC content the keynote.”

Flash Forward is a series of quick looks at the sessions scheduled during GDC week, with all main conference speakers invited to present a 30-60 second pitch of their presentation.

“It’s a fun way to see the event at a glance as well as find some hidden gems attendees might otherwise miss,” said Scavio. “It’s scheduled Wednesday morning as a kickoff to the main conference and will be held in the big ballroom. We expect it to set the tone for the event by providing a more colorful and full-spectrum way to think about the conference and the industry.”

The main GDC stage has been the site of some of the biggest stories in games news over recent years. While this has made GDC inarguably one of the central events of the games calendar for the press, the expectation of key announcements has caused headaches for organisers.

In 2011, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata delivered his now infamous speech about the erosion of mobile game prices by “app stores” alongside what was essentially a launch pitch for 3DS. In his previous GDC keynote in 2009, Iwata announced Zelda: Spirit Tracks.

It was the year before that, though, which saw the real start of complaints from attendees about the press scrum, after Cliff Bleszinski chainsawed his way through a paper door at the end of a Microsoft keynote centred mainly on user-generated content to announce Gears of War 2 for a November release.

Chainsaw massacre

Attendees began to gripe that GDC shouldn’t be about headlines, that it should provide a safe atmosphere for developers to discuss development without fear of their quotes being taken as news. Press passes were switched to “invite only” as a result.

Major announcements scheduled to happen in San Francisco at the time of GDC now occur off-site at separate events. Recent examples of this are Sony’s unveiling of Move in 2010 and EA’s Battlefield 3 announcement last year.

One of the biggest stories of GDC this year from the core perspective will be EA’s Medal of Honor: Warfighter reveal: it’s to take place at an offsite junket next Tuesday.

The fact GDC has no main keynote at all this year will send a message: GDC is not a press event. Scavio added, though, that there could be more excitement coming in the future.

“We determine keynotes on a year-to-year basis,” she said. “Last year was our 25th anniversary and we invited Nintendo to present. We wanted our keynote to be a developer who could also claim 25 years of success in this industry and [Nintendo was] a natural fit. We’ve also had keynotes from Hideo Kojima, Sid Meier and Shigeru Miyamoto.

“We view keynotes as an opportunity to assemble the collective GDC in one room and kick off the main conference. How we do that and who is on that stage changes every year.”

GDC 2012 takes place from March 5-9 in San Francisco.

Breaking news

0 Comments

Sign in to post a comment.