League of Legends, Hearthstone; Heroes of Warcraft, Fortnite, Overwatch & Apex legends all have something in common; they’re huge, with huge online communities and an army of proxy fans consuming game related media through the streaming giant; YouTube. Plus, they are all at the inaugural 2019 Gamescom held in Cologne, Germany from 20th – 24th August.
We’ve also been at Gamescom, drinking in the atmosphere and assessing the latest tech and experiences being created by the global giants of this industry which is said to be worth upwards of $152.1 billion in 2019, and growing!
Moving up the leader board
Gamescom is coined the world’s largest gaming event, inaugurated in 2009, now in its 10th year the event is looking to increase on its 2018 attendance record of 370,000 visitors.
This year the event covers 218,000 square meters (+8 percent in comparison to 2018). The forecast number of exhibitors is around 1,150 (+10 percent in comparison to 2018) with companies from more than 50 countries expected in Cologne this week, so, a serious gathering of the world’s biggest names and players in this sector.
The event is focused on gamers and their experience of the major brands and latest titles to hit both PC and consoles in millions of homes worldwide. The major publishers and hardware manufacturers all compete for their attention with some of the most ludicrous and inventive display areas we’ve seen.
Sony Playstation, absent from the E3 event earlier this year, had arguably the largest presence at Gamescom with a multitude of gaming and experience zones dotted throughout the show. However to date there was very little news on their forthcoming PS5 launch.
Ready Player one
Microsoft Xbox have nearly 200 gaming booths on the show floor plus a colossal exhibition stand showcasing a multitude of Microsoft software and hardware complete with individual game experience booths. As with Sony, the console giant kept cards close to their chest with limited announcements on the Xbox 2 pinned for 2020 release.
Nintendo’s booth reflected the more convivial atmosphere related to the brand and its fans. The booth was split into zones focusing on the leading Nintendo brands including The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Luigi’s Mansion 3, Dragon Quest 10 S, Pokémon Sword and Shield and even the highly-anticipated The Witcher 3 port. As with Sony and Xbox there was no pre-announcement of the Switch Lite release, however Nintendo’s spotlight was very much on their indie games portfolio, bringing back fond memories for generation X and early millennials alike.
Hardware manufacturers such as Intel and Dell made multiple announcements; Intel outlining that it was still King of the processor, with Integrated graphics on Ultrabook’s which should be able to handle some more intense gaming workloads than years prior.
Dell Alienware lead its announcements with the release of the Aurora R9 gaming desktop which it had fired up on the booth in the ‘experience zone’. At the entry level Dell announced the G5 desktop gaming PC that should make it easier for people to get into PC gaming without dropping a fortune on Alienware’s pricier output, which are not usually found in high street retailers.
Hosting entry level computers is a particular focus of the mainstream manufacturers such as Alienware and HP’s Omen lines. Giving these product lines a distinct look and feel at retail has been on the agenda for many years, opening the door to AAA level gaming across multiple European retail networks.
On the subject of retailers, Media Markt/Saturn had an interesting way of implementing omnichannel initiatives to showgoers. A news feed was launched on the retailer’s homepage outlining show specials combined with a strong presence in the experience zone showcasing a number of brands found throughout the German CE stores retailer network.
Mobile games take up around 50% of the global gaming market, with a net worth of 174 billion USD by 2021 with 25% of that spending based in China, 50% is the ASPAC region in total. 73% of app revenue comes from mobile gaming with Candy Crush still most popular globally. Fortnite, the co-op shooter with a range of media coverage and opinion, is estimated to have 100 million downloads in iOS in just 138 days. It was also no surprise for us to see the likes of the telecoms conglomerate Vodafone investing in its own booth right in the centre of the experience zone.
Continuing with mobile friendly platforms, Google and Facebook both had a strong presence at the event. Google focused on its latest game streaming service, Stadia, outlining the titles that will be available at launch. They are said to be preparing some exclusive products for this platform after its launch later this year however there was no news of this at GC 2019.
Whilst Twitch and YouTube dominate the gaming space it was interesting to see Facebook had expanded its footprint at the event with an immersive booth experience. This brought together their digital and physical attributes – Instagram, and Oculus, whilst outlining their gaming Hub which it believes attracts more than 700 million people (for gaming-related activity on at least a monthly basis).
Improved live streaming platforms, connectivity and monster prize funds through the E-sports events organised worldwide only serve to proliferate the enigmatic growth of the gaming sector. Gamescom will certainly grow with it, as will the visibility of the gaming community in both digital and physical retail environments across the globe.
Finally, it’s worth noting the growing popularity on the indie gaming sector. The POP culture industry is fuelling this retro craze through throwback hits such as Stranger Things, showcased on Netflix. Netflix are taking advantage of this popularity by releasing it’s own range of RPG style of games. The streaming giant is perfectly poised to make larger leaps into the sector. Will they follow the likes of Google’s Stadia? We look forward to finding out.