Gamescom has announced new exhibitors, more floor space and a focus on mobile gaming. Koelnmesse's communications manager Franko Fischer tells James Batchelor why this is shaping up to be the world's biggest ever games show
Gamescom is set to be even bigger this year – now up to 140,000 square metres. What does this extra space allow you to do?
It allows our visitors to experience more games, more fun, more interactive entertainment. We extended the exhibition space because there was demand for it – we have new exhibitiors at Gamescom who will show off their products and share their latest news. We also have some new features and all of this creates a bigger gaming experience at Koelnmesse.
This expansion also means you're once again bigger than E3. What advantage does that give you?
We focus on something different. We are the only show in the world that addresses all target groups of interactive entertainment: starting with developers – who are catered for by GDC Europe – to the publishers and retailers that come together in our business area in Halls 4 and 5, and all the way up to the consumers that visit Halls 6 to 10. They will be able to experience the newest innovations, and they can play new games before they reach stores.
That's always been a point of difference between the two shows – Gamescom has always been designed specifically for consumers, whereas E3 is officially a trade show. Why is the consumer aspect of your event so important?
Our concept is successful – it addresses the whole range of target groups, and that's what the industry wants.
It's what the show has been built on every year. We develop Gamescom every year in the same way that the market develops. We are in very close contact with our partner [German games trade body] BIU, and we take a very close look at how the industry is developing. For example, this year is focusing on mobile gaming as a key topic. That's a direct result of how the market has changed in the last year.
So these areas are definitely the focus for Gamescom this year – especially because more and more companies focus on multi-platform gaming entertainment. It's not just about consoles now – it's also about mobile devices, handhelds and so on.
By giving a space to all of these, Gamescom is very representative of the whole market.
You've said that mobile gaming is central to this year's show.What presence will the sector have?
The main focus for the mobile world is Hall 10, but that's just the starting point. We have companies there such as LG and Samsung, who will have stands there.
Besides that you will find mobile gaming around the whole venue. For example, we have GREE – one of the biggest companies in the mobile games market – exhibiting this year.
You'll also find mobile games in our e-sports section. Samsung will have the e-sports league on mobile phones and other devices.
And of course, many of the traditional games publishers are expanding in mobile gaming, such as Sony with PlayStation Mobile.
Microsoft also demonstrated the potential of multi-platform gaming with Xbox SmartGlass. Microsoft is pushing the combination of classical platform with mobile devices, so that's a big topic and we hope to see a lot more of it in Cologne from publishers like EA and Ubisoft.
Microsoft and Nintendo have both said they are not attending Gamescom this year. How will this impact the show?
If you look at concrete figures, so far Gamescom is stable – especially in terms of exhibitor space and numbers. At this point of preparing for the show, we have more than 370 exhibitors – which is 20 per cent up when compared with this point last year.
And Gamescom is increasing its international scope with our new partner country Korea, as well as more country pavilions and more companies within them that offer new business ideas to attendees, no matter where they're from.
So when you look at the facts and figures, the impact is not that big. Of course we would like to have Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo joining Gamescom, definitely. But, as you know, this year the industry seems to be waiting for the new generation of consoles. You could tell they were waiting at other games shows, like E3. And that might be why Microsoft and Nintendo are focusing instead on their own events.
Trade shows in general reflect the market and that is what you can see at Gamescom. There are new players coming up from a wider range of gaming segments, from consoles to PC to online browser, mobile and social gaming.
As we've shown, those are all covered at Gamescom and this helps us to keep on being the leader that we are in this space.
What have you done to attract so many new exhibitors?
Well the success of last year's show has definitely helped.
We also started very early this year with our international roadshow – we visited more than ten countries this time, finishing off in Los Angeles where we talked to media representatives and exhibitors to present Gamescom, its concept, its fact and figures and how it has developed since last year. I think this was one of the other reasons why we are able to expand the international scope to attract the new exhibitors.
In addition to that, we have a very innovative concept that allows us to set special focus topics, such as social and mobile gaming, and this is where some of the new exhibitors will appear for the first time.
Why have you selected Korea as your partner country, and what will its role be at this year's Gamescom?
Korea is definitely one of the world's role models in terms of online games. The total size of the Korean game market in 2011 was estimated at $7bn. Korea's online games in particular account for over 25 per cent of the international online games market.
I think there is a fantastic opportunity here for all companies to find new models, new clients and new business at Gamescom by visiting the Korea booth and the firms that will be present there.
What new services are you going to offer to consumers and exhibitors come August?
This year we've optimised the consumer management of the show itself by opening up new entrances for visitors with pre-sale tickets. Those who ordered online or at the stores where they can get tickets can use Hall 11 as an entrance, so all gamers can get in easier.
For trade managers, we have the same services that we already had last year. We have the visitors area in Halls 4 and 5, with short distances to make business fast and effective.
In addition, we now have our own buyers lounge for international buyers to use as a meeting point. This is also located in Gamescom's business area.
What services will you be offering online to help people prepare for Gamescom 2012?
We have our dedicated hotel bookings website, which is hotelzimmerbuchung.com. There is also an online spokesperson, so if you need any help you will find them on the website.
For all our visitors, we'll have a very good travel and hotel accommodation section so that people will have a guide on how to get to Cologne, where to stay and what to do in the city. If you arrive by bus, train or plane, we will help you get cheap air tickets, train tickets and so on.
Each year, Gamescom has beaten its previous record for attendance. Do you expect this to continue and how many bookings have you taken so far?
Honestly, we never know how that will develop because we're talking about 276,000 visitors in 2011, which is not a little number.
The new products and announcements, including some world and European premieres, that our exhibitors will present – in addition to Gamescom's programme and the whole entertainment and scope of the show – makes us confident about reaching these numbers again.
We are very confident in holding the level that we have reached, particularly from an international point of view, so it'll be interesting for us to see where we are in 2012.
NEED TO KNOW
Date: Wednesday, August 15th – Sunday, August 19th (August 15th is trade and media-only)
Venue: Koelnmesse, Cologne, Germany
Hotel bookings: www.hotelzimmerbuchung.com
Contact (trade visitor): +49 180 50 16 015