The Game Developers Conference has been voted the most important event on the busy industry calendar, with over 40 per cent of those surveyed by GamesIndustry.biz labelling the San Francisco show as essential.
The annual developers conference beat E3, the show once considered the industry's glitzy showcase, but which has spent the past two year's struggling with an identity crisis that left it down-sized and lacking inspiration.
With less than three weeks to go to GDC 2009, conference director Meggan Scavio has said that its testament to the passion of the developers themselves that some are making the journey despite budget cut-backs during a tough year.
"I feel pretty honoured to act as host to what many consider a focal point of their year," said Scavvio, speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz.
"It's been a rough road for the games industry over the past year, and it's not a surprise to find that travel and training budgets are the first to go. The interesting thing to me is how many people reach into their own pockets so as not to miss what is sure to be another stellar GDC.
"The camaraderie and celebration of this industry floods the convention center over the course of five days. It's inspirational and hard to pass up," she added.
Tough times have seen the conference offer more help to developers who want to attend, and Scavio said that organiser Think Services may still be able to assist others.
"We've been doing what we can this year to help by offering extended and group discounts. These offers are still out there so folks should feel free to write to us to see what can be done."
A sense of community is central to GDC, said Scavio, and an essential factor in convincing attendees to return year after year.
"The GDC has built its reputation on integrity and community, which is what places it at the top of the list. For me the week of GDC has always felt like a family reunion," she said.
"With the industry growth over the last decade, we've certainly seen a lot of new faces year on year. While I love hearing all of the 'my first GDC stories', I get the most pleasure from hearing from all the people who are back for a second, fifth or eighteenth time. That's the true sign of success.
"Do they come back? For the Game Developers Conference, the answer is yes."
The Game Developers Conference takes place March 23 - 27, in San Francisco.
The results from the GamesIndustry.biz Network survey follow:
Which event do you consider the most important this year?
- Game Developers Conference: 40.6%
- E3: 34%
- GamesCom: 5.7%
- Develop in Brighton: 3.8%
- Nordic Game: 2.8%
- DICE Summit: 2.8%
- Games Convention Asia: 1.9%
- Game Connection: 1.9%
- GameHorizon: 0.9%
- Other: 5.7%