While everyone is still talking about E3, we’re already thinking about Gamescom here at MCV, as we will be delivering our daily issues at the show once again. Two months from the 2019 edition, we talk to the new head of Gamescom and events at German trade body Game, Christian Baur, and Gamescom’s director at organiser Koelnmesse Tim Endres to see what we should expect this year.
Christian, you recently joined Game as head of Gamescom – what appealed to you about this position?
Christian Baur: I’ve been aware of Gamescom for many years and from many different perspectives – that’s why I know all too well how unique it is. As head of Gamescom at Game, I’ll be working on the further development of this unique event, carefully leaving my marks over time. What could be more exciting? I can’t think of anything!
Which projects would you like to tackle around the event?
Baur: The strength of Gamescom is that there are exciting opportunities for every target group: the entertainment area with its thousands of gaming stations, various places such as the popular cosplay or indie village as well as the merchandise area make Gamescom the place to be for all gamers. The business area is Europe’s largest and most important business platform for the games industry. For developers there is Devcom, where some innovations will be showcased this year. As head of Gamescom, I will concentrate particularly on the digitalisation of the entertainment experience, the further internationalisation and, of course, management and development of Gamescom as a brand.
Can you tell us more about your relationship with Koelnmesse and how you work together?
Baur: Although I’ve been working for Game for just a few weeks, I was able to quickly establish a good relationship with many different colleagues at Koelnmesse. Part of the great success story of Gamescom as the world’s largest games event is the unique partnership between Game and Koelnmesse. That is why this relationship is crucial and extremely important in my daily work on the future of Gamescom.
What changes can we expect at this year?
Tim Endres: For one thing, we’ll have a spectacular start! Gamescom 2019 begins on August 19th at 8pm, with the new Gamescom: Opening Night Live show, which we are launching together with Geoff Keighley, host and producer of the Game Awards. Gamescom 2019 will also differ from the 2018 event due to innovations in the halls with conceptually visible areas of thematic focus. Indies are thereby a theme that will be even more prominently represented at this year’s event. Esports will also be further strengthened and will occupy a prominent place.
What’s the added value of the new Opening Night Live?
Baur: It’s a fantastic addition to the entire Gamescom concept. There is so much to discover and experience during a visit of Gamescom, that it is becoming increasingly difficult for visitors to gain a complete overview. Opening Night Live is just the thing to solve that. On Monday evening when the week starts, all gamers worldwide will get a first glimpse of the highlights of the upcoming week. This includes announcements about new games and content, as well as short interviews with stars of the games industry and their activities during the Gamescom week.
Endres: The opening night is real added value for us. For one thing, this event is a perfect start, a highlight prior to the official opening. With the charisma of this show, thanks to exciting content and our host Geoff Keighley, we will further expand our international range and strengthen Gamescom before all else as a platform for innovations.
What would you say will be Gamescom’s other strengths this year?
Endres: It is the diversity around the theme of gaming, with the strong exhibitors and the event’s character, that will this year once again ensure unforgettable experiences for visitors. In combination with innovations such as the Opening Night Live or the further optimisation of developer conference Devcom, the added value for gaming fans and trade visitors will be clearly tangible.
How has Gamescom evolved in recent years and where do you want to take it?
Endres: Since its relaunch in Cologne in 2009, Gamescom has written an impressive success story: a 126 per cent increase in exhibitors, 51 per cent more visitors and a 68 per cent increase with regards to exhibition space. In terms of international impact, Gamescom has also gone through a remarkable development. One of our medium-term goals is to make the experience accessible to gaming fans or trade visitors who can’t come to Gamescom. The idea here is to “experience Gamescom digitally.” A further development of the internationalisation strategy is also one of the themes on our agenda. Ultimately, due to the diverse, innovative and dynamic nature of gaming, another key goal will be to engage related industries with Gamescom.
In March you announced that Gamescom’s early bird bookings were up eight per cent on 2018 – what are the reasons behind this success?
Endres: In summary, it is the combination of the strong development of Gamescom over the last ten years, its continuing development and adaptation to the requirements of the industry, its unique concept and its present positioning as Europe’s leading platform of the games industry that characterises its success.
What are the challenges, and advantages, of running industry and consumer events side by side?
Endres: The challenge has generally been and still is to address the individual needs of the varied target groups and to provide the best basic conditions for their trade fair success. This can mean certain requirements for trade fair presence in the business area or a high level of trade visitor quality. For consumers, aspects like testing new games, an attractive event programme and quality of stay are central points. In the process, there are points each year that we can adjust and optimise in order to offer all trade fair participants a successful experience. The advantage of Gamescom lies in its unique concept: it reaches nearly all participants along the value creation chain of the games industry.
Where is the German games market headed and how is Gamescom reflecting those changes?
Baur: The German games market is developing very positively. Last year, total sales grew by nine per cent up to €4.4bn (£3.8bn). The individual market segments have developed very differently. In particular, in-game purchases and online services grew strongly. This shows the great dynamics with which the games market is changing rapidly in Germany and worldwide. Gamescom must consider these developments. That’s why we keep on improving the Gamescom concept every year.
Gamescom 2019 will take place from August 20th to August 24th. To get involved in our daily MCV@gamescom issues, get in touch with MCV’s business development manager Alex Boucher.