So, yesterday, I was at the Gamescom for the second time in my life and for the first time in three years. I was incredibly excited about a lot of the booths present there but not everything went as planned, which is why I wanted to report on my experience with the event in today’s post.
- What is the Gamescom?
- Arriving at the GamesCom
- The Indie Arena Booth
- Interviewing People
- Was this year’s GamesCom good?
What is the Gamescom?
The “Gamescom” is a trade fair for video games held annually (unless there’s a pandemic going on) at the “Kölnmesse” in Cologne, Germany. It’s an event where many video game developers and publishers present upcoming games and gaming-related hardware. The Gamescom is the world’s largest gaming event, measured by the exhibition space and number of visitors.
On top of games, there are also live events happening at the Event Area, the Signing Area, as well as the Cosplay Village, and other places. The Gamescom also features a hall that is wholly dedicated to merchandise for anime and games, alike. This year’s event also featured an incredibly huge waiting line for Genshin Impact artwork and plushies.
The whole event stretches on for about five days. This year’s event is happening from August 24th until August 28th. The first day of the GamesCom is mostly for the press and journalists. At the same time, though, there is also an online event that you can visit via the website where you can basically check out different games and what devs have to say about their titles without having to be present. I believe that this year’s GamesCom was the first Hybrid, actually, which is quite nice!
And well, there’s also the “Opening Night Live” hosted by Geoff Keighley – a show of sorts that kicks off the event and presents you with a lot of trailers and announcements. You can still check out the VOD of that on Twitch and YouTube!
Arriving at the GamesCom
This year, I made sure to not repeat my mistake of arriving in the early hours. They’re wild. Just like with any convention, there is a huge amount of people camping out at the beginning of the event and essentially running to different booths in order to secure an early playtesting spot.
Hence, trains are packed and late, the beginning of the convention is utter chaos, and frankly, it’s ridiculous how many people try to get to specific spots at all costs – which is why sometimes people may even get pushed around. It’s stupid.
I arrived around 10 AM given that I had no intention of playtesting any of the big games. While I was interested in Lies of P, I’m more than happy to wait for a press build, an online demo, or even the full release before I get into it.
That game looked amazing! Other big games were also present although a lot of the big publishers ended up cancelling somewhat late.
Sony and Microsoft, for instance, usually host huge booths and events with lots of merch being given away at insane rates.
Those were cancelled as well. I wanted to originally visit the THQ stand for the Destroy All Humans 2 remake as well as the T-Shirt that was supposedly available. Sadly, the hall that they had their booth in didn’t allow anyone to enter anymore at some point given that there were too many people in there.
The early hours for me were basically spent making my way to Hall 10 where the Indie, as well as the Retro area, are… only to then essentially spend my whole day there.
The Indie Arena Booth
This place was like Christmas for me.
A somewhat early and incredibly hot Christmas… I mean… is this how Australians feel? They have Christmas in Summer, right? Santa comes on a surfboard, right?
Jokes aside, the Indie Arena Booth is essentially this huge place with way too many games by a whole lot of developers and even more demos to play. A few publishers were also there and talking to a bunch of these people has been amazing.
Sadly, it’s just too much for one day. I didn’t get to play WiredProduction’s “Gori: Cuddly Carnage”, for instance. Neither did I get a chance to try out a few other interesting entries like “Gigabash”, “Rainworld: Downpour” or “CULTIC”, which was a bummer, especially considering how much of a fan of Rainworld I am… but it can’t be helped. Those games’ lines were just way too long, really.
Half the time, I would go around the booths, try to find my way out to grab some fresh air, get distracted, and then get lost, eventually ending up where I came from… It was only after four-ish hours that I discovered that the Indie Arena Booth featured A LOT MORE games than I originally thought.
I mean, yes, I knew that it’s 133+ games from over 70-ish countries but I didn’t quite understand the scope of what exactly that entails on a physical level.
Needless to say, I spent a lot of time in this area. I visited a lot of booths, talked to a bunch of people, and overall, I had a great time!
So, given the length of most lines, I didn’t really get to check out a lot of games. I played a fair few demos but honestly speaking, I enjoyed talking to developers and publishers more than anything.
I mentioned it previously but my goal here was to not only shine a light on a bunch of different developers and their values but I also wanted to talk to a lot of publishers… because there are so many people – I included – that don’t know what publishers do.
As it turns out, there are a lot of different publishers out there that do a lot of things differently. Hopefully, the interviews that I’ll release in the next few days will shine a light on that topic, especially given that there have been some horror stories in recent years with publishers doing very shitty things.
Overall, the impression I got from publishers was that a lot of their work taps into making games great and having developers connect to their target audience. Some will also help with the funding, while others will help with feedback, playtests, ports, and other processes that may be too much for developers to handle alone.
As for dev interviews, I picked out a few interesting titles and chatted with devs about them. Sadly, a lot of developers weren’t there at the actual convention, so I didn’t get to chat with all of them but I’m excited to publish the interviews of the ones I got.
Most of the interviews ended up being rather short with only a few (albeit good) questions. Some people talked a bit more about their experiences, though, and I’m just too nice to stop people when they ramble on for a longer time. One interview ended up being about ten minutes long while most of the other ones went only for three to five minutes.
On top of that, I asked everyone that I interviewed what advice they’d give to aspiring devs and the results were quite surprising and interesting, in my opinion, so I’m looking forward to presenting that in a separate post.
Was this year’s GamesCom good?
Well, yes, I enjoyed my time there, although it felt a bit smaller in comparison to the last time I was there. Some halls were completely closed off due to the number of people that entered. At the same time, again, a lot of the industry giants weren’t actually there at all, which was a bit sad.
This time around the hallways have been even wider than last time, meaning that it often didn’t get too crowded between halls. At the same time, though, there was a “Metal Hellsinger concert” planned, apparently, and the line for that blocked off large sections of the Boulevard at some point, which I found rather annoying.
What I absolutely didn’t like was that there weren’t really any places to just grab some tap water and fill up your bottle. It was incredibly hot on Wednesday and Thursday. I feel like big cons like that should maybe have the option of refilling bottles or whatever.
The toilets were disgusting btw. Fuck that place.
Also, I got the “Superfan Ticket” which was 2€ more but it didn’t work at all. Essentially, you could plan queue times with it and get an early playtesting spot secured with it. This “Fastlane” approach, however, didn’t work because there were no extra lanes… nor was there any event or game that you could sign up for. I honestly feel a bit scammed by that but it’s just 2€, I guess.
ALSO: I got these cool festival bracelets but how the fuck do you get rid of them without cutting them open?
I had a lot of fun this year but as always, conventions have their issues.
Covid restrictions have been incredibly lax, too, so I wouldn’t be surprised if someone caught or spread it, either. I tested negative earlier today but I’ll have to do another test next week just to be sure.
If you wanna see lots of games, maybe get some goodies or merch or something, and talk to people in the industry, Gamescom is a great place to check out!
If you, however, don’t like big crowds in hot halls, this may not be the greatest place to be. I had a few times when I needed to go outside to grab fresh air because of how uncomfortable I was with the big crowds.