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Gamescom 2018: What’s new in Cologne this year?

Gamescom continues to be the European must-attend event for the whole industry. As of last year it’s still growing in terms of space and attendance, plus it’s diversifying from its consumer show roots with developer and esports events both returning this year as part of an expanded Gamescom.

It’s a show where the UK makes itself at home too, as we make up the largest single contingent of overseas exhibitors. As part of that MCV will be out in full force this year, with our MCV@gamescom being distributed daily to trade visitors.

We talk to Tim Endres, director of Gamescom, about the 2018 edition of the show and what exhibitors and trade visitors can expect from this crucial date in the gaming calendar.

Congratulations on your 10th anniversary! How much has the show grown since it began?

Thanks! Gamescom can look back on an impressive success story. Between 2009 and 2017, the number of exhibitors increased from 458 to 919, and the number of visitors from 245,193 to around 355,000 last August.  

The show has also developed positively in terms of international standing: while 201 foreign exhibitors presented new products in the premiere year, this number increased to 661 companies in 2017. Half of all trade visitors to Gamescom come from abroad. We are very pleased at this wonderful development. 

It is the result of our continuing work and cooperation with Game, the German Games Industry Association, and with the committees participating in Gamescom. The clear focus on the requirements of the various visitor target groups and its unique concept have made Gamescom what it is today: the leading business platform for the games industry and the highlight of the year for gaming fans from around the world. We are optimistic that the journey isn’t even close to its end, and that we can further expand upon this success.

Have its strategic goals changed much in that time frame?

Trade fairs reflect markets, and this is also the case with Gamescom. One USP of the show is that we have always represented gaming in all of its facets, and across all platforms. Console gaming, mobile, online, PC, virtual reality, esports – all of these themes have their place at Gamescom. You won’t find that anywhere else, and we will remain committed to this. 

Two examples of the continuing strategic development of Gamescom are the SPOBIS Gaming & Media and Devcom events. Both premiered last year as part of Gamescom Week.

SPOBIS is organised by Sponsors, one of the leading organisers of congresses on sports marketing. We were then able to network the top decision makers of the advertising industry, media companies and professional sports with those in the gaming world. It returns this year on August 20th. And then we have Devcom, a high-quality developer event during Gamescom Week, which will take place again from August 19th to 23rd. 

Have you increased capacity in terms of floor area this year – are there any corners of the Koelnmesse left unused?

We started in 2009 with an exhibition space of 120,000 square metres, and last year we were once again able to expand the exhibition space, covering 201,000 square metres.
For this year, no expansion of the area is planned – however, this may change depending on exhibitor demand. The Cologne fairgrounds encompass 284,000 square metres of hall area, as well as 100,000 of outdoor space. That makes them the third largest in Germany and among the top ten in the world. So, there is further potential. 

Some parts of the show are bustling, others less so; is it possible to try and balance this out?

The gap between highly and less highly frequented areas has not been so pronounced at Gamescom for quite some time now. It’s true that the stands of the big exhibitors are of course the big attractions, but there are also extremely attractive exhibitors in other halls, for example in Hall 10, which can’t complain about lack of attention. 

We also have events and actions planned at different locations on the Gamescom grounds, which attract the public and thus ensure the good distribution of visitors. The social media stage, family and friends or the cosplay village are only three examples that, in addition to the high quality exhibitors, also result in good occupancy beyond the major exhibitor presences.

The pound has weakened against the euro recently – has that affected the number of UK companies exhibiting?

No, we haven’t been able to determine any negative effect as of yet. On the contrary, in terms of exhibitors, the UK is traditionally one of the strongest participants at Gamescom.

Does the esports sector continue to be a growth part of the event? Yes, esports is one of the top themes of the industry and will occupy an even more prominent position at Gamescom 2018 than in previous years: esports providers like All Esports, ESL/Turtle Entertainment, Gamer Legion and Webedia Gaming have already confirmed their participation and will be in Cologne.

What else is new at this year’s event?

We are currently working on a variety of projects and are coordinating with different partners. Unfortunately this means I can’t provide you with any more detailed information at the present time. 

However, I am optimistic that we will soon be able to publish the first news. Perhaps I can tell you this much: innovations are being discussed both for trade and private visitors. And because we are also celebrating ten years of Gamescom, we will surely have a few little surprises for our guests…

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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