Video is now the lingua franca of gaming coverage – and at this year's Gamescom it came, as ever, in a myriad of forms: studio-style news coverage and interviews, game preview footage, live gameplay streams, esports coverage, or the numerous chattier, personality-driven formats that proliferate on YouTube and Twitch.
Of course, while E3, or at least the press conferences that run in advance of the actual show, may rule the roost when it comes to the big new trailers and corresponding viewing figures, Gamescom is generating increasingly large audiences.
We visited IGN’s quiet and dark studio space up above the trade halls, where a full studio setup dominates for interviews, generating streamed and VoD content from the show while an army of staff are busy capturing the latest gameplay from the showfloor to complement the studio shoot.
There, chief content officer Peer Schneider told us how IGN is a “video-first business” and that “there will be millions of consumers engaging with Gamescom content on IGN, whether on our website, our Facebook page, YouTube or Snapchat.”
So far, Gamescom has been very much endemics, I think that a lot of other brands have a little bit of a blindspot to the sheer size of the event
Peer Schneider, IGN
That’s pretty big, but it still doesn’t have the same commercial reach as other events: “Gamescom, even though it’s a huge event online, may not be as familiar to advertisers in the United States, especially outside of gaming, so it’s a little more difficult to sign on a larger consumer sponsor,” Schneider told us.
“So far, Gamescom has been very much endemics – games companies that understand what it is. I think that a lot of other brands have a little bit of a blindspot to the sheer size of the event here – this is the biggest gaming event in the world – and how big the event is online. Consumers know the event and our traffic spikes during this week, but advertisers have not yet discovered it to the same extent.”
Twitch branding was also highly prevalent at the show. While Facebook and YouTube had presences in the trade halls, it was Twitch that had sealed the deals to make its brand near omnipresent.
Another well-represented brand was German esports outfit ESL, which was running numerous tournaments at the show, most notably an invitational for the ‘not-yet-an-esport’ PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Looking very much like an esport at the show, the tournament generated massive traffic and attention online.
You might have loads of great footage, but turning it into content that works for today’s platforms and today’s consumers is just as importnat – especially if you need to monetise that content as well, either directly as the creator, or via your chosen platform.
Facebook is trying to grow its share of the video gaming market, with many firms we talked to having deals with the company to provide video content, including IGN, Battlegrounds and Wargaming.net.
You can actually customise the video and your messaging to the way in which consumers in our community consume that content
Franco de Desare, Facebook
Franco de Desare, head of console and online gaming at Facebook, told us simply that “video is the currency of the gaming market” whether it’s content or placing marketing around that content. And it’s not just all pre-roll video, either, as he talked about the platform's flexibility: “The placement of the video and the opportunity are very varied, and allow you to actually customise the video and your messaging to the way in which consumers in our community, mostly on their mobile phones, consume that content,” he added.
While Gamescom remains an event that prides itself on hard attendance figures, its global audience and reach is growing even quicker than the numbers at the Koelnmesse.
It may not have the same wealth of big, slick trailers as E3, but this community-driven event is arguably a better place to generate a more diverse range of highly-marketable video content.