gamescom 2018: looking back on the games event in Cologne

  • 10th anniversary - the State of North-Rhine Westphalia congratulated gamescom with the light installation LIGHT IT UP!. The City of Cologne contributed and hosted the event. © Koelnmesse
    10th anniversary - the State of North-Rhine Westphalia congratulated gamescom with the light installation LIGHT IT UP!. The City of Cologne contributed and hosted the event. © Koelnmesse

The guiding theme of 'Diversity wins' characterised gamescom in its tenth year. Around 370,000 visitors from 114 countries (106) celebrated "The Heart of Gaming" in the Cologne exhibition halls this year, including 31,200 trade visitors. The plus of countries (114) and trade visitors (three percent) emphasises the internationality of gamescom and its importance as Europe's leading business platform of the games industry. The strongest growth came from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Austria. The newly conceived of opening event with world premieres and political guests of honour met with great interest. Both the opening of gamescom and highlights like the Debatt(l)e Royale, the presentation of the gamescom awards, as well as the events of gamescom and the exhibitors were streamed on 'experience gamescom live'. Another highlight in the context of gamescom was the illumination along the bank of the Rhine in Cologne. Under the title of 'LIGHT IT UP!', the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the City of Cologne celebrated the 10th anniversary of gamescom. 1,037 exhibitors (2017: 919) from 56 (54) countries made this year's motto experienceable. Whether games for PC, consoles or mobile devices, whether online and for virtual reality games or eSports. gamescom provided a gaming offering across platforms showcasing all of its facets. At around 70 percent, the share of foreign exhibitors once again set a new record.

"The plus of 15,000 visitors and the increased number of countries impressively underlines the great international charisma of gamescom and the increasing interest in this unique 360 degree experience event. With an exhibitor plus of around 13 percent, it presented an unprecedented offering. Thanks to the presentations of world premieres and hundreds of games highlights, gamescom convinced as a platform for new products", said Gerald Böse, President and Chief Executive Officer of Koelnmesse GmbH.

Felix Falk, managing director of game – the association of the German games industry and sponsor of gamescom: "And the success story of gamescom also continues in its tenth year: world premieres for the opening and a plus for the numbers of exhibitors and visitors underline the great relevance and attractiveness of gamescom for gamers and the games industry. The extent to which games are in the meantime perceived as an economic factor, innovation drivers and cultural assets is nowhere so clear as at gamescom: no other event in the world covers so many facets of games."

The great variety of highlights at gamescom sometimes resulted in an intensified visitor concentration in some areas on the public days. This had to do with the fact that many visitors sometimes had the same destinations, such as certain exhibitor stands or events. "The quality of stay of visitors is of especially great importance to us and wasn't always assured this year. For this reason we continually optimised visitor logistics during ongoing trade fair operations. In consultation with our partner game and the exhibitors, we will develop and implement measures for the further optimisation of the quality of stay following this year's gamescom", says Katharina C. Hamma, Chief Operating Office of Koelnmesse GmbH.

World premieres for the gamescom opening

The opening event with political guests and world premieres emphasised the great relevance of gamescom as an international platform of the games industry. For the start of the world's largest event for computer and video games, there were several world premieres of games on 21 August from the international publishers BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe S.A.S., Koch Media and its publishing label Deep Silver, Square Enix, THQ Nordic and Ubisoft. The political guests of honour, including Dorothee Bär, minister of state for digitalisation in the federal government, José Guirao, Minister for Culture and Sports of the gamescom partner country Spain, Armin Laschet, Minister President of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, as well as the Mayor of the City of Cologne, Henriette Reker, also spoke at the opening before hundreds of guests, journalists and gamers.

Happy Birthday gamescom: The federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the City of Colone light up the banks of the Rhine

Under the title of 'LIGHT IT UP!', the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the City of Cologne congratulated gamescom with the spectacular illumination of the Cologne bank of the Rhine for the 10th anniversary. Minister President Armin Laschet, Mayor Henriette Reker and light artist Michael Batz threw the switch for the five-day light art action on the evening of the first day of the trade fair. With the coming of twilight, around 7,000 fluorescent tubes provided a framework of light for pronounced objects along the banks of the Rhine between Zoobrücke (Zoo bridge) and Deutzer Brücke (Deutz Bridge) every evening from 21 to 26 August. The Hamburg theatre maker and light artist Michael Batz developed the concept for the illumination. The main sponsor was the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. The City of Cologne also bore part of the costs and was organiser.

'Experience gamescom live' expands the range of gamescom

This year, gaming fans from around the world who couldn't attend gamescom in person could also experience some of the most exciting highlights of the world's biggest event for computer and video games live. 'Experience gamescom live' went online for the start of gamescom on 21 August 2018 and showed continuous live streams, videos, news and all episodes of gamescomTV together on one channel, and in this way ensured a virtual expansion of gamescom.

A week 'full of gaming': top offerings for all target groups  

Many events at gamescom complemented the gaming offering, and in this way assured the appropriate offering for the various target groups. gamescom week started with the devcom (organiser: CMG Conferences), one of the top developer events, on Sunday, 19 August 2018. SPOBIS Gaming & Media (organiser: SPONSORS) focused on eSports and marketing in the gaming industry on Monday, 20 August. The international congress provides an interface between eSport/gaming, as well as between sport and media business. The gamescom congress on 22 August also convinced with a diverse programme and political discussions. With around 870 visitors, the format underlined its position as a think tank for digitalisation. The gamescom ended in keeping with tradition with the gamescom city festival. The Cologne city centre was once again full of music, street food, games, information and entertainment offerings from Friday, 24 August to Sunday, 26 August. Many national and international music acts, a street food market and countless activities for great and small once again made the gamescom city festival the attraction for guests and residents of the Rhine metropolis this year. The gamescom city festival is an event project of Media Kultur Köln GmbH in cooperation with prime entertainment GmbH, with the support of the City of Cologne and Koelnmesse GmbH.

In 2019, gamescom will take place from Tuesday, 20 August to Saturday, 24 August at Koelnmesse in Cologne. Read our interview with Felix Falk, game – the German Games Industry Association, on the location Cologne and the relevance of computer games for the society.