‘Diversity wins’ is the central theme of gamescom 2018, highlighting the great diversity and versatility of games as both an entertainment medium and a cultural asset, as well as a door opener to digitalization for millions of people worldwide.
Established in its current form in 2009, gamescom has become a focal point for the international gaming industry and fans worldwide. Measured by exhibition space and number of visitors, Gamescom is the world’s largest gaming expo with 350,000 visitors and 919 exhibitors from 54 countries attending the show in 2017, and even more expected for the event’s ten year anniversary.
Here’s the first edition of NEXT LEVEL – the gamescom daily news:
Support for game development in Germany
At the opening ceremony on Tuesday, Armin Laschet, prime minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, congratulated gamescom on reaching its tenth anniversary and promised a substantial increase of subsidies for game developers in Germany to strengthen their competitiveness in the global industry. Digital State Minister Dorothee Bär also announced that new funding models would “certainly get underway quickly”, echoing the speech German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave at last year’s event.
Adding to this year’s theme, Felix Falk, Managing Director of the German Video Games Industry Association, explained that diversity not only described video games itself but also the global community, which includes people of all ages, nationalities and races: “If that were also the case in society, there would be nothing greater.”
Trends and topics at gamescom 2018
No one plays alone – The Battle Royale trend continues at gamescom
The role model of blockbusters such as “The Hunger Games” has become synonymous with a style of game that went from obscure mod to mainstream game phenomenon in less than two years. A Battle Royale game blends survival and exploration elements with last-man-standing gameplay. Playing online, gamers compete against each other until only one winner emerges. As one of the great Battle Royale hits, the game “Fortnite” has gained 125 million players in less than a year. And another Battle Royale bestseller, “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” (PUBG) has amassed more than 400 million players across all current available platforms. The trend continues at gamescom: “Call of Duty: Blackops 4” will be the first game of the popular franchise with a Battle Royale mode. Launching in October, visitors can try their hand at the game exclusively at the ASUS booth. Publisher EA already released a trailer a few days ahead of the show for “Battlefield V”, which will include a Battle Royale mode as well.
The Battle Royale hype is only the latest example of a major trend in the last few years: gaming has become a collaborative experience.
Esports going full mainstream?
In 2017, the global esports industry generated revenues of 557 million Euro, up from 387 million in 2016. And the industry is set to continue with its growth trajectory: for the next five years, the consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) expects an annual increase of 21 percent. The popularity of esports also continues to grow, with big tournaments easily filling whole stadiums.
With more and more money pouring into esports and viewership numbers climbing, a growing number of companies are trying to understand the phenomenon in order to connect with its gigantic fan base. Many football clubs such as Manchester City, West Ham United or FC Schalke 04 have already created their own esports teams. Other enterprises are exploring new opportunities with sponsorships, such as SAP which announced a new sponsorship deal with Team Liquid, one of the most successful teams in esports in April 2018.
The booming business has set its sights on conquering the mainstream. And while they still have a long way to go, with the extensive media coverage of gamescom, the expo contributes every year to esports reaching the general public. Major companies such as ESL, Turtle Entertainment and All Esports all have a strong presence, as well as hardware manufacturers showcasing their new gaming equipment to established and upcoming esports players. Tournaments with popular games also help esports reach a broader audience. For example, Bluehole, Inc., publisher of “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds”, and the ESL announced a partnership to bring the popular title to gamescom with the first “gamescom PUBG Invitational”, featuring eighty of the world’s best PUBG players.
World premieres of new titles
Traditionally, international video game publishers reserved world premieres of news and trailers for the E3 expo in Las Vegas, while treating gamescom more as a place for players to try out new games. However, this year’s gamescom opening ceremony saw several highly anticipated announcements of new upcoming titles.
- Ubisoft released a highly anticipated new trailer for the upcoming city-builder game Anno 1800.
- THQ Nordic revealed a new installment of Desperados, a tactical game set in the Wild West coming to PS4, Xbox One, and Steam.
- Developer Dontnod Entertainment and publisher Square Enix released a full-length trailer for Life is Strange 2, a sequel to the 2015’s beloved supernatural, episodic game.
- Supermassive Games announced a new horror series, The Dark Pictures Anthology.
Other notable announcements include NVIDIA releasing a new generation of graphic cards, the first in two years. The new GPUS allow for higher ray tracing performance, a computationally expensive process of accurately modelling how light bounces between reflective surfaces in a scene, enabling a more realistic and immersive gaming experience. A number of hardware manufacturers, including ASUS, have already announced their own versions based on the new GPUs.