The Corona Effect: GDC Cancelled & Indie Studios Suffer

As you may have all heard already, the GDC organisation officially cancelled or rather postponed this year’s gathering of Game Developers. The yearly conference always happens around March, but because of the Coronavirus shifting into a worldwide pandemic, multiple exhibitors & speakers pulled out in fear of their employees getting infected. GDC has therefore announced that it will postpone their event (likely until the summertime).

But what really interested me is how this affected indie game developers: Sure, their tickets will be reimbursed but what about their flights & stay? Not all of them paid the extra costs to get cancellation insurance (and even those who did seem to have a hard time convincing the airline companies to give them their money back).

Entire campaigns get built around this event, indie game studios plan their press releases, time their Kickstarters or even invest a lot of money to find their publisher there and a trip to San Francisco isn’t exactly cheap. Today, we got sent this Press Release by Belgian studio Cybernetic Walrus, which we would like to share to give some insights:


Cybernetic Walrus buries plans for Rise of Humanity Kickstarter after last Friday’s GDC postponement announcement.

Cybernetic Walrus, a Belgian based game and service studio released their first game Antigraviator in 2018 and have been working on a new game called Rise of Humanity since Summer 2018. Antigraviator, a futuristic racing game, has won numerous awards for its outstanding 3D graphics and enabled the studio to grow substantially in less than a years’ time.


Cybernetic Walrus planned on launching a Kickstarter right after GDC to collect extra funding for polishing and to check the market fit of the game. Without a lot of knowledge about the Kickstarter platform, the company did a campaign for Antigraviator in 2017 that failed miserably. This time they felt they were more prepared and after showcasing the game at regional events, they knew there was definite interest from players.

“After a good reception at a couple of regional events, we set the goal to showcase at GDC 2020 where we would schedule as many press meetings as possible,” says Marketing and Community Manager of Cybernetic Walrus, David Benoy. “We had already invested in a video and a social media adverting boost to up our following a bit as well. However, last week when the big guns of the industry started pulling out, press started cancelling as well. Then Friday came the news that the whole event would be postponed. After contemplating with the team earlier during the week, we decided to cancel the Kickstarter as the lack of visibility will be fatal for our campaign.”


In September 2019, Cybernetic Walrus raised half a million euro in financing. The cancellation of the Kickstarter has an impact on the company, but not to an extent that is harmful for its existence.

“We were lucky that our hotel booking had a cancelation option and that we can get refunds for our booth”, adds CEO of Cybernetic Walrus, Mike Coeck. “Our only real non-refundable costs are plane tickets and what we already invested in setting up the Kickstarter and accompanying adds.”


Here’s to hoping they can still turn the tables and perhaps get the game’s marketing campaign back on track at a later date. But many indiegames suffered the same fate and are now in some form of Limbo: “Do we still go to San Francisco in the hopes of still networking with the other developers who have been struck by the same misfortune. Or do we cut our losses and stay home?”

It’s scary to see what kind of impact something like Corona/COVID19 can have on the games industry, with rumours spreading not unlike the virus that both the PS5 and Xbox Series X may be delayed because of it and E3 potentially getting cancelled as well.

Want to help Cybernetic Walrus? Be sure to wishlist their game or give them a follow on Twitter.


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