Video games

After 10 years, Austin Game Conference is returning

Conference will try to fill the void left by 2012 move of Game Developers Conference Online

Posted April 5th, 2016

In 2012, the Game Developers Conference Online, the largest event for game developers in Austin, left town for the west coast. Now, the original event that spawned GDC is making a return in September.

On Tuesday, the Austin Game Conference, last seen in Austin in 2006, announced it is returning September 21-22 with founder and CEO Chris Sherman back at the helm and game company Electronic Arts, Inc. as its primary sponsor. AGC started in Austin in 2003, but was purchased by UBM Tech, which renamed the show Game Developer Conference, which later became GDC Online during its Austin run.

Sherman said that there was no licensing or rights exchange involved in resurrecting AGC. "They abandoned the name. We're bringing it back," he said on Tuesday. "It's the same people involved as 10 years ago. We got the band back together."

The September Austin Game Conference will be held at Austin Convention Center and will be co-chaired by game industry vets Gordon Walton, currently president of Art & Craft Entertainment, Inc., and Rich Vogel, executive producer and president at Bethesda Softworks-owned BattleCry Studios. The conference's advisory board includes representatives from Twitch, Blizzard Entertainment, EA and Portalarium.

Sherman said the conference hopes to attract 800-1,000 attendees in its first year and will be an industry event for developers, filling the void left by the departure of GDC Online. "That's what everybody was telling me, not only locally, but on a national level," Sherman said. "There's a hole that needs to be filled. There's thousands of people employed in the industry (in Austin) and lots of business to be done, but no real catalyst or focal point or lightning rod that brings it all together on a really large scale."

In 2013, Captivate Conference launched, largely in an attempt to bridge the gap between a consumer games conference and an industry event, but it lasted only two years. The event was canceled for 2015 a month before it was to take place at St. Edward's University and has not returned.

Registration is already open for the event and starts at $249 until July 29 with discounts available for students and groups. Exhibitors booths are available for $1,700.

No speakers have yet been announced for the conference.

Update, June 27: The initial schedule for the conference has been released, revealing five tracks in Design, Business, Production, Virtual/Augmented Reality and Audience Participation (including streaming and esports). There's an at-a-glance schedule and a more detailed look at the Sept. 21-22 event.

Contributed by Austin Game ConferenceAustin Game Conference founder Chris Sherman speaks at the 2006 edition of the event, its last before becoming the Game Developers Conference, which left Austin in 2012.