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Business

Europe's largest video games fair opens in Cologne

The largest European fair for video games, Gamescom, has opened in Cologne, Germany, with hundreds of thousands of visitors expected. But while there's no lack of novelties, important names in the industry are missing.

Wednesday saw the opening of the largest European fair for video games, the Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. Until August 19, exhibitors will be presenting well over 300 new games and technological gadgets.

Billed as highlights are presentations of the "FIFA 13" soccer simulation and a new version of "Tomb Raider," which has attracted millions of avid players the world over in previous versions. Other novelties video gamers have long been on the lookout for include "Assassin's Creed 3" and "Crysis 3."

Gamescom organizers said there was an increasing trend among young people to play specially adapted versions of classic video games on smartphones and tablet PCs. They added that this development had been hurting the makers of conventional mobile game consoles such as Vita or Nintendo 3DS.

Difficult market conditions

Although maintaining its reputation as Europe's biggest video games fair, Gamescom in Cologne has been struggling to attract all the major players in the market. It's done so with varying success in recent years. This time around, some of the big names in the industry have decided to stay away from the show, including Nintendo, Microsoft and Sega.

Germany's IT umbrella organization, Bitkom, expects revenues in the German video games market to drop by 4.0 percent year-on-year to total 2.5 billion euros ($3.08 billion) in 2012.

Bitkom Board Member Ralph Haupter said the reason for shrinking sales were the improved durability of game consoles and their modern-day abilities to stay up to date via software patches and the use of peripheral devices.

hg/mz (Reuters, dpa, dapd)