As Gamescom 2017 posts record visitor numbers, analysts are divided on whether the show was a success. SuperData’s CEO Joost van Dreunen, for instance, said that despite being unable to attend this year’s show, "from afar, it seemed a bit underwhelming."
Indeed, this year’s show was light on new announcements. Microsoft dominated the weekend preceding Gamescom by opening pre-orders for its Xbox One X and new limited edition Xbox One S bundles, but the only other major announcement to come out last week was a brand-new title and IP from THQ Nordic in the shape of Biomutant – which, by all accounts (including our own), was easily the most exciting title of the show.
That wasn’t to say Gamescom was lacking in titles, however, as Van Dreunen continued: "Let me rephrase that: it seemed overwhelming in its incarnate display of discovery issues that increasingly haunt the games industry.
"Falling in love with a title at a show only to never see it reach the light of day is a tragic reality that exists at these massive consumer/industry hybrid formats. It should be in everyone’s conference survival guide: wear comfortable shoes and tread carefully."
Midia Research analyst Karol Severin, however, was more optimistic. He said the show was a "real eye-opener to the sheer force that the global gaming industry has become and where it is heading."
He also praised the address given by Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel, who officially opened Gamescom last week.
"In front of more than 300 journalists, Merkel acknowledged the value of gaming to the culture and economy, giving the industry an important political blessing for the world to see. It was a significant step in pushing gaming towards the mainstream. There was an overwhelming presence of trade associations representing countries’ games initiatives, along with governmental delegates working to attract games investment into their respective countries."
However, Severin added that "mainstream non-tech and non-entertainment consumer brands need to wake up to the rise of this cultural movement."
He continued: "There was a real lack of non-game branding at Gamescom. Whether this is because brands still think gaming is reserved for a niche minority, or are afraid that current customers would start labelling the brand as such, neither of these are true. Smaller brands are catching up to this much faster. Thousands of people were enjoying low-key energy drink brands, while the only brand message Coca Cola sent was selling small bottles for €4 a pop to tired parents and traders – not a good brand message to send to the generations that will take over the world within the next decade or two.
"Thousands of attendees were of the age where they start to assign their loyalties to preferred brands, say hygiene products for example, but there were no samples of such products to be seen. As ‘cool’ as beverage and teenage hygiene brands like to present themselves to be, ironically the only two companies I saw building branding awareness at Gamescom was a motorist assistance service (ADAC) and a financial institution (Wuestenrot Bausparkasse). Games are in process of eating the world. If you have yet to embrace this at your company or brand, it is high time to do so, before it’s too late."