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Games Industry Law Summit – Q3 seems likely + current stats

Games Industry Law Summit
Games Industry Law Summit – Q3 seems likely + current stats
By Sergei Klimov • Issue #58 • View online
I promised to keep you all updated on the Summit, and here’s the roundup from the last couple of days:
Anime Japan 2020, scheduled for late March in Tokyo, is now cancelled, offering full refunds; the Tokyo Marathon is also cancelled for everyone except elite runners, and is not offering any refunds at all to about 38,000 runners – despite a pretty high registration fee ($165 non-residents, $145 residents).
Meanwhile, the Seoul Marathon, scheduled for late March, is in a “soft cancellation” mode, where the organisers are waiting for the situation to develop to make their final call; they, however, offer full refund to about 40,000 participants, which has been very well received by the community.
And across the ocean, both San Francisco and Orange County have declared public health emergencies (probably this has something to do with the first California-based confirmed case, which has no record of international travel and, moreover, wasn’t even tested for the virus for a few days despite the symptoms – because, America).
So where does this leave us?
Definitely, one step closer to re-scheduling the Summit.
Please bear with me as I explain our current thinking –

What if we proceed as scheduled?
Let’s imagine that we ignore the pandemic, and run the event with only a few minor changes: making disposable FFP3 masks available throughout the event as well as placing hand disinfectants in every corner of the lobby (all of this perfectly doable).
1️⃣ Because the virus is an order of magnitude more infectious than SARS (here’s a recent explainer), and since it does not rely on having pre-existing vulnerability in recipients to infect them (i.e. it doesn’t matter how strong your immune system is), it spreads like fire once a group of people is exposed to a carrier within the confines of a closed space.
2️⃣ Since there are confirmed cases in most of the regions where our attendees are coming from – including Estonia, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Spain, UK, USA, etc. – and since a “confirmed case” is just the tip of the iceberg (here’s a handy diagram explaining how it works) – we’re not talking about, say, 500 confirmed cases in Italy: it would be more accurate to estimate something in the range of 5,000-15,000 carriers, five hundred of which are currently located and confirmed.
3️⃣ As it takes a few weeks to show symptoms, and then pronounced symptoms only seem to appear in about half of all cases or less, someone may visit the Summit without even being aware of the virus. Moreover, even if someone would have the ‘luck’ of contacting the virus and then combatting the disease, the news about the re-infection rate (this article from The Strait Times mentions the figure of 14% for Guangdong) makes the term “recovered” rather moot.
4️⃣ Given that just in the past week, the virus has spread from Northern Italy to nearly 10 countries, I would bet on having the first confirmed cases here in Lithuania within the next 2-3 weeks (current count: still zero, but “current” is 2-3 weeks late due to the symptom-free incubation period of the virus). So in addition to the risks related to the other attendees, all of us might face the risk related to all the people here on the ground who cook and serve food and drinks throughout the event – and that’s over 100 staff.
➡️ To us, it sounds like the outcome of proceeding with the Summit as scheduled means running a sizeable chance of having some (if not all) attendees pick up the virus in the process.
But, one may say, would this really be “the end of the world”?
Consequences, personal level
There’s still not enough data on the CFR (case fatality rate) of the virus, with the estimates ranging from 1% to 3.5%. This, by the way, excludes any long-lasting damage (say, the patient recovers but the liver damage knocks off ten years from their life expectancy).
Since CFR increases with age, and the average age for the Summit is 35-40, let’s assume 3%. The other value to keep in mind is that 20% of all patients in China had to be placed in ICU in order to survive/recover.
Calculating across 300 attendees, this gives us 9 deaths and 60 people in the ICU. To me, having even 1 person in ICU is too much. But, for the argument’s sake, let’s assume that it’s “unavoidable”, and that whether you get to ICU in Moscow or in Vilnius, you will eventually get there anyway, so why make a fuss about it.
Well, there’s the whole family thing, isn’t there: based on the data from China, a patient had to spend 2-3 weeks on average in the ICU, before getting stable. So if you indeed travel to, say, GDC or the Summit, and end up in the local hospital… it’s quite unlikely that it will be just for a day or two. And what about your parents and your children, who’ll have to manage without you, for a few weeks back home.
Another thing to note about the “unavoidability” of going through the ordeal with this virus is that with every day, there’s more information available to doctors in order to fine-tune the treatment. Hence, checking into a hospital in June 2020 offers a significantly higher success rate, and promises a substantially easier time, than checking into the same hospital in March 2020.
Consequences, companies
In the last two days, a number of people reached out to me with stories about the policies that were recently installed at their games companies.
At some studios, you now have to undergo 14 days of working from home if you traveled to China, Korea, Japan or Italy. At others, the HR arranges the actual COVID-19 test for employees returning from any out-of-country trips, as well as for anybody who has a suspicion that they may have contacted the virus locally.
It seems like the larger is the studio, the higher is the potential risk to the company’s overall productivity. Consider, for example, all the developers currently crunching on Cyberpunk 2077 at CDPR in Warsaw; or the fact that the whole Steam Team at Valve shares the same open-floor office space.
If we run into errors releasing our new game on Steam, and our contacts there are in the hospital when we ping them… the loss of productivity extends from Valve to our own studio, as well as to hundreds of other developers.
🛑 No matter how I look at the situation, I keep seeing increasing risks (we can argue as to their scope, but not to the fact of their existence) – and while I don’t always agree with the author of The Black Swan, I do agree with his note on dealing with the approaching pandemic which he published a month ago, and which remains relevant; as well as with his criticism of the “worry not if you’re younger than 60” feel-good messaging.
Re-scheduling the Summit to Q3 2020
In the last 48 hours, we spoke with every partner of the Summit here in Vilnius about the feasibility of re-scheduling the event to Q3 2020.
Assuming that the world spends the spring and the summer getting over the worst of the pandemics, we should be in the position of holding the Summit at the expected quality (and attendance) level in mid October or early November.
From the operational standpoint, we’ve got all the materials ready – from the attendee boxes and all the wonderful items prepared by the event’s sponsors for each attendee to branded ceramic cups that we’ll use to serve espressos during the sessions (handmade herein Vilnius, by the way!), – and all of these will survive the re-scheduling without any issues whatsoever.
We also have a huge supply of magnums of white and red wines and champagne, as well as cases of rosé, sake and beer, and most of this alcohol will only get better with a but of ageing (we use a temperature-controlled storage). The few things that we keep working on – Summit notebooks as well as Attendee Books – are currently in the process of being finished, and will go to print in a few weeks.
What’s important for us is to find a date that works for ( A ) the Palace (the venue) ( B ) the hotels (PACAI, Kempinski, VILNIA, Artagonist, Shakespeare) ( C ) most of the attendees.
Currently, we’re looking at November 5-6, 2020 based on the hotels being pretty much booked up during the earlier weeks. However, as the situation evolves, we’re likely to see the bookings for October change as well – and if this happens, then the Palace has another opening on October 15-16, 2020.
Our goal is to find the dates that would allow us to transfer all of the current bookings for late April/early May to the new dates without any problems, which would save everyone a ton of hassle, and November 5-6, 2020 would allow us exactly that.
Current status
Right now, we haven’t cancelled or re-scheduled the Summit yet.
However, we’re working towards a second option tentatively scheduled for November 5-6, 2020 – and we’ll book these dates with both the venue and the partner hotels within the next few days, to be sure that we are in the position to move the Summit if/when we need to move it.
🔵 In the (less likely) event that things normalise / a breakthrough treatment method becomes available between now and early April, we’ll run the Summit as scheduled.
☣️ And in the (more likely) event that the pandemic gets worse before it gets better, we’ll change the dates of this year’s Summit to November 5-6, 2020 around mid-to-late March.
In the coming few weeks, I’ll do my best to keep you updated!
Q: What if I want to cancel my attendance?
If you want to cancel your attendance now, or if you will need to cancel your attendance later due to the pandemic situation / the new Summit dates not working out for your schedule, we will refund 100% of the registration fee. Just shoot us an email! 📩
Attendee Stats 2020
Not everything is doom and gloom: take, for example, this week’s unexpected gift of the video of running javelina against the music from Tom Tykwer’s Lola Rennt film.
Also, as we’ve been registering more people, I’ve put together these stats for this year’s Summit:
Which countries win this year? Here’s another look –
And here’s the (almost perfect) split between in-house counsels and law firms: 51% to 49% –
In terms of the event’s size, this is how we’ve grown since 2015: last year’s Summit had 29% more attendees than Summit 2018, and this year the Summit has grown 42% year on year.
Now, no matter which month of the year we run the event this time, we look forward to seeing the community grow – and to hosting you here for the three days full of networking and professional discussions!
* * *
📫 Please let me and Alma know if you have any questions or concerns in the meantime – and please let us know if November 5-6, 2020 would work for you as the possible new dates in case we re-schedule.
One thing that could be fun to run in the case of re-scheduling, by the way, would be a sort of PBEM (play by email) version of the Summit where we’ll work with the presenters to prepare updates on their topics as mini-presentations – and then send them around through this newsletter ahead of the actual event.
In this way, we would already start the discussions around the program, which could result in having significantly more precise, and updated, presentations during the actual Summit – please ping me if this is something you’d be interested in being a part of!
// stay safe, and till later!
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Sergei Klimov

A newsletter about games industry's legal side, written for the benefit and entertainment of the folks attending (or considering to attend) the annual Games Industry Law Summit in Vilnius.

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Games Industry Law Summit is organized by Charlie Oscar LIma Tango. Malunu 6B-8, Vilnius, LT-01200, Lithuania