Gamescom goes all-digital for 2021 – physical element cancelled

Gamescom today announced that the 2021 event would not have any physical component. Instead the event would consist of a series of digital events and content. 

Gamescom organisers, the German industry body Game and the venue Koelnmesse, had hoped to hold a hybrid event in late August. However the prevailing uncertainty of the continued pandemic has made that impossible. 

A statement admitted that it had simply come too early for the industry. 

Oliver Frese, Chief Operating Officer of Koelnmesse said: “Together with game – The German Games Industry Association, we have put all our energy into making gamescom 2021 in a hybrid format possible for fans and industry alike. However, even though the hybrid concept was very well received by the partners, we had to recognize that gamescom still comes too early for many companies in the industry due to the required planning reliability.

“One thing is absolutely clear: All those involved now need planning reliability.  That’s why we’re going for a purely digital gamescom again this year and, with sufficient lead time, will be able to offer the gaming community an even stronger online event at the end of August 2021.”

To that end, the organisers are still planning a big splash for the online event with tentpole consumer touchpoints, such as the ‘gamescom: Opening Night Live with Geoff Keighley’ show.

“For digital gamescom 2021, our focus is to provide even more games and reach as well as a heightened community atmosphere. We are therefore introducing a completely new concept called gamescom epix, which sends the community on a joint quest journey in social media even before gamescom begins. What we want to do with this is transfer even more of the unique gamescom atmosphere to the digital world. Together with our numerous partners, we want to make gamescom the world’s biggest gaming event again in 2021,” said Felix Falk, managing director of Game.

Meanwhile, the business side will include virtual meetings and a digital broadcast of the developer event, Devcom. That will include: “Several full-day business matchmaking events, such as the popular “Indies meet Investors and Publishers” format devcom Pitch it! or special matchmaking and pitching events with devcom’s international community stands, will be significantly expanded,” said a statement.

We’re of course disappointed about the cancellation, as we long hoped that Gamescom might just mark a return to physical events, but such a large events needs to draw huge numbers and the very biggest exhibitors in order to happen, and we suppose that the lead times involved simply didn’t tally with the situation we are currently in. 


About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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