Gamescom: Gaming giants too must adapt or die
The world's largest computer games trade show is drawing huge crowds in Cologne. Trends, including streaming and immersive technologies, are disrupting the market, possibly spelling the end for the games console.
Long queues for a sneak peak
Hundreds of thousands of gamers have descended on Cologne again for Gamescom. The eager ones were queuing up to a day ahead of the opening on Wednesday. Last year about 370,000 people visited the trendy trade show and organizers expect a record number of visitors this year. With 1,150 exhibitors from more than 50 countries, fans can get a sneak peak at the latest games offerings.
Half of Germany has sore thumbs
One out of two Germans play games on mobile phone, consoles or PCs, according to Games, the German games industry association. The growth of the sector has been remarkable: in the first half of 2019, sales in Germany rose by 11% to €2.8 billion ($3.1 billion). Only about 4% of that revenue, however, came from games developed at home.
Politicians, including Minister of Transport and Digital Affairs Andreas Scheuer, have promised to boost German game production. The Cologne trade fair after all showcases "tomorrow's innovations," he said. In 2019, game developers received €50 million in state funding, and Scheuer has said he plans to make sure the financial support continues.
Highly-anticipated space shooter teased
"Everspace 2" was given a sneak preview at Gamescom, although fans will hate to wait until 2021 for its full release. A trailer for the openworld space combat game went down a storm as well as teasers for the interactive thriller "Erica" from Sony and the upcoming releases of "Gears 5" and "Borderlands 3."
Battle of the streamers
Cloud gaming is a major topic at this year's Gamescom. Microsoft presented its Project xCloud which unlocks device restrictions on games. Other big players like Google want to stream the best-known games. In future, even the most elaborately-designed games may no longer need expensive hardware. In Germany, however, the lack of fast internet in some areas will be a major sticking point.
Are gaming consoles dead?
Nintendo's Wii revolutionalized gaming when it was released in 2006 around fitness and interactivity. A new generation of consoles are set to be previewed at Gamescom including Sony's PlayStation 5 and the new Microsoft Xbox (Scarlett). Both consoles are due for release next year. Industry observers suspect the age of the console is coming to an end, but the big manufacturers are still bullish.
Immersion tools are all the rage
The rise of smartphone gaming hasn't hurt the market for computers and monitors. Outside of North America, sales of gaming hardware grew 15% worldwide in the first half of 2019 compared to last year, according to the market research firm GfK. Curved monitors are the current must-have gadget for any serious gamer, as they help users to fully immerse themselves in the action.
Digital sports taken seriously
Germany's Olympic Sports Confederation has yet to recognize digital competitions as sports. But that hasn't harmed their protests. In Germany, e-sports grew revenues by 22% to €62.5 million last year, according to the consulting firm PwC. Another key source of income is sponsorship. Germany ranks fourth worldwide behind the USA, South Korea and China with its promotional earnings.
No Gamescom without dressing up
Cosplay (Costume Play) is of course a completely analogue hobby but nevertheless indispensable at every Gamescom. As in previous years, contests will be held for the best costumes. One popular trend from Japan is to try to emulate a character from a manga (comic), film or video game as true to the original as possible.