1. GAME DEVELOPERS CONFERENCE ATTRACTS A VARIETY OF DEVELOPERS AND BRANDS: The weeklong Game Developers Conference, which kicked off its 2018 edition in San Francisco on Monday, used to be the signature convention for the commercial videogame industry. But as the conference attracts more big name brands to the showroom—and fewer well-known videogame titles—the event's purpose has seemed to shift. Wired: “The usual excitement still exists among those in the professional gaming (not to be confused with esports) community, who change their Twitter names to include variations ”at GDC” and who populate the conference's scheduling app with selfies and meeting requests, but it seems more than ever to be undercut with restlessness: Who is this conference even for, anyway? More than ever, huge platforms are taking a huge share of the show floor and speaking schedule. Facebook, Oculus, and even Magic Leap are all hosting multiple sessions this year. It's not just that the industry-wide muddling of the lines between indie and triple-A creator has hit GDC, though that's part of it. The games ecosystem is home to a complex variety of types of developers, and the intense divide between indie and major is both fuzzier and more important than it's felt like in the past. ... GDC is considered by many in the industry to be an essential event, the core platform for connecting with colleagues, scouting new recruits, and taking stock of the industry. But it's become increasingly clear in recent years how limited this event really is. Taking place in one of the most expensive cities in America, it's a stretch simply to afford accommodations for the week of the conference—and that's not counting expo passes, travel, and any extracurricular activities. For poor or disabled American developers, and especially for international developers, GDC represents a sizable, and difficult, investment." http://bit.ly/2HQyQWP
2. MARCH MADNESS UPSETS BUST ALL BRACKETS: A series of upsets in this year’s March Madness tournament has busted all of the 17.3 million bracket’s in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge. Variety: “The finishing blow came Friday, after supreme underdog U. of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) became the only No. 16 seed in tournament history to defeat a No. 1 team, the Virginia Cavaliers — busting the only 24 perfect picks up until that point among ESPN’s 17.3 million players. Only 3.4% of all users had picked UMBC to take down Virginia. In another bracket-busting upset, Florida State (No. 9) defeated No. 1 Xavier in their Sunday night Round of 32 matchup. This year marks only the fourth time that two No. 1 seeds failed to advance to the Sweet 16 since the NCAA expanded the tourney in 1985 to 64 teams (from 53 the year prior). With the Sweet 16 teams set, ESPN said just three brackets out of the 17.3 million picked 15 out of 16 winners correctly, and none got all 16 correct. Meanwhile, 62,559 of ESPN Tournament Challenge players incorrectly predicted all 16 games. First-round March Madness surprises had already punctured millions of brackets, with just 0.036% of total ESPN Tournament Challenge brackets still perfect after the first half of the Round of 64 games concluded Thursday. The high fan engagement ESPN is seeing for March Madness demonstrates that the TV-centric programmer doesn’t need to have broadcast rights to catch wind in its digital sails from major sporting events.” http://bit.ly/2ptog0r
3. NORTH AMERICAN WORLD CUP BID NOT CONCERNED WITH ANTI-U.S. ATTITUDE: Soccer officials from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico said they were unconcerned about anti-American sentiments regarding the North American 2026 World Cup bid. Reuters: “Having presented their bid book to FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, on Friday, the heads of the Canadian, Mexican and U.S. soccer federations, Steven Reed, Decio de Maria and Carlos Cordeiro conducted a conference call from Kuala Lumpur to publicize their bid more widely. FIFA is due to choose between the three-way ‘United2026’ bid and one from Morocco at a congress in Moscow on June 13. The three presidents said theirs was a technically sound, low-risk bid that featured state-of-the-art facilities, operational certainty and the promise of riches to fill FIFA’s coffers. They shrugged off any suggestion of anti-U.S. sentiment stemming from a probe in which U.S. prosecutors have brought corruption, racketeering and money laundering charges against 42 people and entities and described a culture of corruption around the awarding of media and marketing rights to soccer games. The bid may also have to contend with irritation in several African and Middle Eastern countries at U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.” http://reut.rs/2poxYAY
* LOCAL NEWS *
ATLANTA: Sports, entertainment, and culinary marketing agency Melt has announced new hires: Evan Pulliam has been appointed senior creative and content strategist; Rachel Garcia has been appointed culinary and beverage associate; Dave Hammock has been appointed director of production and logistics; and Snigdha Dhar has been appointed senior account executive for Melt Culinary.
CHICAGO: W Chicago—City Center will unveil the first phase of its renovation in April. The hotel will debut a new lobby design inspired by the city’s history, plus Midland Social Club, a new restaurant named after the building’s original use as a private gentleman’s club.
LAS VEGAS: Jason Mraz will headline the Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s second annual Inspire event May 18 at the Venetian Theatre. The event benefits the Sand Cares Accelerator Program.
LOS ANGELES: PopSugar and Freeform’s Mermaid Museum pop-up event, celebrating the new series Siren, will run March 21-25 at Goya Studios. The event will have Instagram-friendly installations inspired by the series.
For information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, visit Masterplanner: http://www.masterplanneronline.com/losangeles
MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA: Culinary competition series Cochon555 will make its Miami stop June 10 at 1 Hotel South Beach.
NEW YORK: The third annual NYC Hospitality Alliance Awards will take place April 9 at Tao Downtown. The list of restaurant and individual honorees can be found here: http://bit.ly/2o3A3En
We Are Family Foundation’s annual celebration gala will take place April 27 at the Hammerstein Ballroom. The event will honor LL Cool J and The Who’s Roger Daltrey.
The fourth annual Harlem EatUp! festival will take place May 14-20. Events will include the Dine In Harlem dinner series showcasing local and guest chef culinary mash-ups at local restaurants, as well as the Harlem Stroll—a two-day tasting event at Morningside Park.
Taste of Tribeca will take place May 19 on Duane Street between Greenwich and Hudson. The fund-raising event—which benefits arts and enrichment programs at public schools PS 150 and PS 234—will offer dishes from more than 65 Tribeca restaurants.
For information on upcoming events in New York, visit Masterplanner: http://www.masterplanneronline.com/newyork
SAN FRANCISCO: The San Francisco S.P.C.A., a nonprofit animal welfare organization, will have its 150th anniversary celebration and gala April 18 at San Francisco City Hall.
TORONTO: Yorkdale Shopping Centre is celebrating International Day of Happiness with a series of wellness events today, including a Lululemon morning yoga class.
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With contributions from Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, and Ian Zelaya in New York.
BizBash Daily is the must-read digest of event industry news from BizBash.com.
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