The theme of this year's Gamescom is 'Just play together,' emphasising one of the most vital parts of today's worldwide gaming industry.
With more ways to play games with family and friends than ever before, this growing trend has been underpinned by a string of upcoming releases, including titles such as EA's Star Wars Battlefront 2, Ubisoft's Far Cry 5 and Activision's online shooter Destiny 2, as well as Sony's PlayLink, which brings people together in front of their TV to play games via their smartphone or tablet on their PS4, and Microsoft's recently-revamped Mixer video platform, which lets livestream audiences interact with their favourite channels in real-time. And who could forget the Nintendo Switch, which puts cooperative play at the heart of its on-the-go design.
"Games are the most social medium of our time; they promote cooperative play like no other medium and allow people to interact with one another in the process – and that's the case this year more than ever before,' says Felix Falk, managing director of BIU, the German Games Industry Association.
"Gamescom offers an unparalleled look at the profound changes that digitisation and networking are causing in society and the economy. The fact that Chancellor Merkel will inaugurate this year's Gamescom also highlights that games are increasingly being recognised as a cultural and economic asset."
Esports is another big topic at Gamescom this year, and the German scene in particular has seen huge growth over recent months. Millions of Germans now watch esports either on location in arenas or over livestreams online. Likewise, companies such as Audi and Vodafone are now getting involved in order to attract younger, digitally savvy audiences that are becoming increasingly difficult to reach via traditional means of advertising. Esports are even beginning to play an important role in the German federal election, with CDU/CSU, SPD and FDP all announcing plans to provide greater support for esports in the upcoming legislative period.
With the announcement that esports will be recognised as an official discipline at the 2022 Asia Games in Hangzhou, esports is only set to get even bigger as it gains more recognition on the world stage.