Opinion: Biggest Gamescom ever was what you made of it

The Gamescom numbers defied the experience somewhat.

There were 345,000 visitors to the show, which is 10,000 up on last year’s figure. There were 806 companies, a rise of 14 per cent, and 33,200 trade visitors, a more modest increase of five per cent.

But try telling that to the owners of The Corkonian pub, who are used to witnessing an onslaught of UK visitors over the week – only to see a slightly weaker invasion.

Or to the media, which saw just one game announced during Xbox’s press conference, no PlayStation presence and EA and Blizzard press events that passed with barely a headline.

One publisher only had new footage for one of its games to show the press, having not had enough time to create more video content after E3. Valve weren’t here, neither were Riot.

An industry exec told me during the show that they loved Gamescom, but it’s become a show to ‘maintain relationships’, pointing to Chinajoy as a recent, and more successful, business trip.

But the truth is that these shows are what you make of it. It is easy to get into a routine, to book the same appointments with the same people, but that’s not Gamescom’s fault. That’s yours.

MCV was forced to approach Gamescom differently this year. We had already seen a lot of these games and spoke to the execs at E3, and as that was only six weeks ago, we didn’t exactly want to see them all over again in Cologne. We only interviewed Ubisoft a few weeks back, do you really want us to do it again? And what do we ask this time?

So we had to dig a bit deeper. Sticking with Ubisoft for a moment, the company announced a new initiative around Gamescom called the ‘Fun House’ – something that the firm has launched in its Montreal studio – so we decided to sit down with the head of that department in what became a genuinely fascinating conversation about games development.

We spoke to Rare about its 30th birthday, we discovered Wargaming’s new publishing arm, we found out why the internet has fallen in love with EA’s Unravel. It was fantastic.

Gamescom takes place later in August next year. Perhaps Sony will come back with a press conference and maybe developers will have the time to create new demos to show the press. But even if they do, I will try to remember to dig beneath the surface like we were forced to do this year.

Because in my mind, Gamescom 2015 may well have been the best one yet.

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