No booth for Unity at GDC 2018 – but it still has huge plans for its home-town show

Unity won’t have a booth on the floor of this year’s GDC. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that the company isn’t taking its home-town show very seriously indeed.

We asked CMO Clive Downie what GDC is going to be about this year and he simply answered: "Unity."

And the company certainly has plans to back-up that blunt assertion. For starters, he’s keen to stress the firm is still fully behind the show. "GDC is a great show, we love it… we’re still ardent supporters, we’re a platinum sponsor," Downie told us, adding that it will be doing talks in the official tracks.

However the company felt that the "traditional model of a booth on the expo floor and having to vie for attention," wasn’t the best way to achieve the "quality conversations and interactions with our community," that it desired.

Instead there will a "Unity presence in multiple locations in and around the show, to give all developers, at their own pace, the opportunity to understand what we’re doing this year with our new technology," said Downie.

"It all comes down to the quality of interaction with both the Unity development community, and people who aren’t the Unity development community but who want to know more about what it is we do."

So what does that all mean in practice?

Obviously Unity will be making use of its headquarters "Unity Central, our building, just a block-and-a-half from the show." Which city regulations aside means Unity must have been tempted to simply paint arrows from the Moscone Centre leading to its own front door.

"The office is still going to be a working environment but we are going to have more than 100 sessions during the week, held by the developers that make the Unity technology." So developers can get a deep dive on the technology, with thousands of people given access over that week. Registration for those sessions will be opening up around 1st of March.

And the company hasn’t abandoned the conference centre. The second location is Unity Mix, a 3,000 square feet space in Moscone South. "Pounding the streets and expo floor is a tiring affair and finding somewhere to sit down and relax and have a decent conversation is hard. Here we’ll have an ample lounge area just to sit and relax." Again it will staffed with staff members from the Unity team able to answer questions, making it something of a Genius Bar for developers.

Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of developers out there would love to come to GDC but can’t.

It will also showcase games built with Unity at what it’s calling the Unity Lounge, which is located in the lobby bar of the Hotel Zetta. It’s somewhere for people to unwind and have a drink with many game developers in attendance to talk about their creations.

If that wasn’t enough, Unity will also be demoing its tech out-and-about on the sidewalks of San Francisco. Evangelists will be positioned on key routes with mobile hardware to show the platform to attendees passing by. It’s long been true that some of the best meetings occur between A-and-B at GDC, and Unity is looking to take full advantage of the sheer density of developers meandering around town.

Unity isn’t limiting its efforts to the physical show either, understanding that there are "Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of developers out there who would love to come to GDC but can’t." So with Unity Live it will host a livestream including many of its sessions as well as the best of the rest of the show too, all curated by its own team. It will hosted by Unity with other streaming partners to be announced closer to the event.

Finally, Unity’s keynote will kick things off on Monday at 6.30pm with "demos of our new 2018 product technology, presentations from CTO and founder Yoachim [Ante] and CEO John Riccitiello will be on stage and we’ll be inviting key partners as well."

And there will of course be a big party to wrap things up, the details of that are under wraps for now, but it sounds like it will be very special indeed.

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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