The reenactment program of the world’s most popular game event was surprisingly complete in comparison to the original editions before the pandemic break. Gamescom 2022 warmed up with the developer conference Devcom, launched as a business event on media day with the Opening Night Live Show, restarted the next day with the political discussion platform Gamescom Congress and continued the consumer show until the end of the consecutive weekend on-site and in several online streams. For motivating the viewership to click through Gamescom’s web presence, a browser adventure challenged the online audience to save the event space against an evil future.
Despite the absence of a number of industry players, this full-term relaunch in times of ongoing uncertainties for event organizations must be seen as a success against a threatening Fearture. Nevertheless, the Gamescom could not fully reestablish the former platform encompassing all aspects of the gaming culture and the gaming business. The business area filled the gaps with enlarged national and regional presentation spaces. The consumer area refilled the huge fair ground halls with additional marketing booths and music events, besides the habitual game promotions.
While big names like Sony, Nintendo or Activision Blizzard did not set up their usual hangar-sized promotion stands, new players like Tencent’s Infinite Level and Embracer Group’s Plaion took the chance to make an impression in their places. Smaller publishers and indie productions could also profit from better visibility. Among the national industry booths, the ones of Poland and Belgium stood out with a range of innovative VR presentations. Poland showcased the sequel of Yupitergrad as well as Blockstar VR, Belgium offered a new action-focused demo of the ambitious VR sci-fi game Hubris, a VR mech coop shooter, a Smurf-themed VR adventure and a very poetic VR hand tracking game.
The business area kept some upcoming VR games behind closed doors. Fast Travel Games set up a whole line-up of their new publishing program with Quest and PCVR games like the innovative fencing game Broken Edge, the coop simulator We Are One and the Quest version of Everslaught: Invasion with addictive coop playing features. The sequel of The Walking Dead: Saint & Sinners 2 was on display for Quest and PCVR, as well as the stealth game sequel Espire 2. Olchemy Labs announced a new game on the Quest in a mysterious trailer during ONL, while promoting their latest release, Cosmonian High, on the consumer show floor. Resolution Games displayed all their VR game releases in their own booth in the consumer area.
Concerning XR hardware, the impressive presentation of b-haptics vests, gloves and wristbands stood out in the business area, where the Korean company acquired developers and game licenses for their innovative interfaces. Probably, they will promote their products to the public in the consumer area next year. On the crowded consumer floor, Pico Interactive took the opportunity to showcase their newest consumer VR headset in a busy booth with a line-up of casual VR games and the exciting coop shooter After The Fall. Apart from making VR palpable to the general game audience with hardware devices, the VR content line-up at Gamescom mainly followed the online presentation of UploadVR, streamed during Not-E3, with additional demos and gameplay for the trailer announcements.
While Gamescom 2022 can be seen as a success in quantity with the numbers of attendants, the success in quality with the impact for the industry remains to be seen. Selling the gaming audience to fast food brands or carmakers on the show floor may work to bridge an actual absence of industry players, but this risks a lack of substance when being stretched to the following years. A focus on innovative gaming hardware like the upcoming VR headsets and PSVR2 may help to turn quantity into quality again. In contrast to the no-show of E3 with its notion of dark future cinematics, this year’s Gamescom got real and countered the Fearture.