GDC11: Record attendance bid as doors fly open

GDC11: Record attendance bid as doors fly open

By Rob Crossley in San Francisco

February 28th 2011 at 8:00AM

Landmark 25th show 'hoped to be most popular ever' - but 'no muscling in on E3'

Record-breaking ticket sales is the target for the landmark twenty-fifth Game Developers Conference, a co-organiser of the event has said.

GDC global brand director Simon Carless claimed he wasn’t privy to specific attendance figures for this week’s show. Yet in an interview with Develop, Carless said the group was aiming to surpass last year's record of 18,250.

GDC 2010 was the organiser’s best-selling event in its twenty-four year history.

It is hoped that hundreds of speakers, flying in to represent the biggest names in the business, will pull in more ticket sales than ever before.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata is preparing for an hour-long keynote on Wednesday, while Sega pioneer Yu Suzuki will host a rare public Q&A session on Friday, the final day of the event.

Cliff Bleszinski, Peter Molyneux, Tōru Iwatani and Eric Chahi also stand out from a list of 650 industry professionals set to speak at the show.

But despite GDC’s girth, Carless insisted the show will not grow in the direction of becoming a direct competitor to E3.

E3 is widely seen as the kingpin of annual games industry events, yet in recent years its organisers have experimented with a more prohibitive format. GDC, meanwhile, continues to surge, and this year will be used as a platform for product announcements from some of the biggest companies in the business.

Carless insisted, however, that a focus on the developers themselves - and not the product - is paramount.

"We’re happy to have announcements around the show, and this year I’m sure there will be some," he said.

"These days, publishers tend to have press showcases off-site to make announcements, and that’s fine with us, but GDC is about developers coming together and learning new things. That’s what we concentrate on.

"Having said that, we are actually very happy to have a big expo floor where announcements are made, and we still have our large keynote addresses which are sometimes announcement-led. This year we have keynotes from companies like Nintendo, who are in a position to announce things if they wish to."

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