Gamescom is a yearly event in Germany, Cologne, and one of the biggest gaming conventions on the world calendar. Our Business Development Manager, Lex Suurland, is often the lucky one making the long trip. Originally from Amsterdam, Lex is always looking forward to being back on home soil for a couple of weeks. This year, he teamed up with Osmotic Studio’s Melanie Taylor, one of the co-developers of privacy invasion thriller, Orwell.
After a three hour train ride from Amsterdam I can see the beautiful Cologne Cathedral in the distance. We’re here! And from Cologne station it’s a short taxi ride to our awesome Airbnb. We were lucky, Gamescom has around 300,000 attendees, so getting accommodation close to the convention centre often brings its own challenges.
Once checked-in, I make my way to the show. Gamescom is split up into two sections–the Business section and the Consumer section–two completely different worlds. The business section starts on the Wednesday and ends on Friday, while the consumer events continue until Sunday.
Once arrived in Hall 2.2, I make my way to booth number A30, the Bundase U International (or BIU). This is a German games society that, with support from the local government, has booth space reserved for local game developer talent. Once at the booth, I meet up with Melanie, the developer of our upcoming game, Orwell. Melanie is from Germany and has made a short trip to be here at Gamescom to show the early demo build to media and press.
After our first couple of press meetings, it’s time to wander around the massive labyrinth of booths in the business area. Compared to PAX or other consumer facing shows these booths are not particularly flashy or booming with noise to attract consumers. Most of them are locked off meetings rooms, purely focused on doing business.
We make our way to Hall 3.2, the hall that often houses the small indie development studios and country pavilions. Coming to this section is a great and easy way to connect with local talent and stay up to date with the progress certain sectors are making. I arrive at the Belgium booth to meet with the development team of Flotsam, an awesome game about constructing floating establishments on the sea after you survived a disaster of some sorts.
Talking to one team often leads to introductions across the booth. Everyone knows everyone and the word of a publisher checking out games spreads quick. What was supposed to be a 30 min meeting turns into a 1.5 hour chat with local developers of Belgium, and the drinking of specially brewed beer–a clever tactic of the pavilion to attract attention from media and press.
After our great time at the Belgium pavilion we make our way to the Dutch, Scandinavian and Eastern European booths, all full of companies and games that want to do business. The first day comes to an end, and we finish with a BBQ.
We rise and shine for Day 2, the day the consumer event starts. Words cannot describe the crowd of people that gather to attend Gamescom. People are lining up outside at 6.30 am in order to be the first to enter the show. Walking between halls turns into a scene from the Walking Dead, hoards of people packed-up on each other move from one massive game booth to another. Lucky for us, people need a special badge to get into the business hall, making it easy to move from meeting to meeting.
After arriving back at the BIU booth and meeting up with Melanie we have our meeting with AdventureCorner.De, and out of the blue Orwell receives its first official award nomination–Best Adventure–putting a smile on everyone’s face. (Post-Gamescom update: It won!)
Our initial press meetings done, I headed over to the CD Project booth, arriving to see a massive board game table promoting their latest game, Gwent. Then it was on to meet with our partner GOG.com and discuss our upcoming games and promotions. After that, I dropped in to the Indie Arena in Hall 10, a mammoth task as this hall is in the consumer related part of the show. What normally takes 5 minutes to walk turns into a 20 minute shuffle.
The Indie Arena booth is an amazing collaboration that supports indie developers showing their games to consumers at Gamescom. The booth hosts over 40 games from across the globe, offering an interesting mix suitable for any age. After chatting with several developers I played Deliver Us The Moon by KeokeN Interactive, an awesome game about an astronaut that is exploring an abandoned space station, trying to solve the mystery of the do-or-die mission you’ve been sent on.
Day 2 comes to an end and it’s time for our first official party. We head over to our friends from Humble Bundle and meet them at an awesome local beer house for some drinks and snacks. Events like Gamescom are always a perfect moment to catch up face-to-face with people and companies you do business with on a daily basis, but often only talk to via email. Drinks arrive at the table and I try a Radler, a typical german beer mixed with a citrus flavour. After meeting most of the Humble crew we decide to move on to the official Gamescom exhibitor party, the highlight of everyone’s Gamescom experience. The party always has a theme, and this year’s is Time Travel. We start in the jungle with cavemen and big pieces of meat offered to everyone. Moving further down we hit a 30’s gangster casino: a perfect opportunity to try some funny Germany casino games, and after winning an official Gamescom bath duck (rubber duckie) we decide to further try our luck on the dancefloor.
Day 3 is often only half a day; the business halls close early and most exhibitors pack up around 2-3 pm. It’s the perfect time to make some final meetings and scout out any remaining games or companies you would like to talk to. This day is also a good opportunity to ping any remaining journalists that might have some spare time in their schedule to come over and see your game, and with Orwell, we turned our final hours into a busy blast of presentations.
Later, we took some time to walk by the consumer halls and check out some of the insane booth build-ups the bigger publishers make. It’s amazing what they pull off each year and with eSports being as big as it is now, huge sporting arenas are built.
After strolling around the big triple A games, it’s time to say goodbye to our European friends. Gamescom has come to an end. Walking back to our Airbnb in the nice summer heat, we reflect on three great days at Europe’s biggest gaming convention.
Drinking one final German beer at the train station, we board our train back to Amsterdam.