gamescom – The heart of gaming

Major innovations from Germany, Europe and the rest of the world are showcased at gamescom, the highlight of the interactive entertainment industry’s annual calendar.


gamescom is both a trade fair and a public event, making it a unique entertainment experience for all visitors. It is hosted by the city of Cologne, where it has taken place in August every year since 2009 and will therefore celebrate its thirteenth anniversary in 2021. The event is organised by Koelnmesse and co-organised by game – the German Games Industry Association. In 2019, over 373,000 people from more than 100 countries attended the event, visiting booths run by 1,153 exhibitors – ten per cent more than 2018.

‘With gamescom 2020, we have created a fully-fledged, global event that has brought the games industry together. We promised that we would be hard to miss during the four days – and we delivered. We are very pleased with how well the digital concept was accepted this year. At the same time, we take community feedback very seriously, which highlighted that celebrating, playing and sharing emotions together on-site makes gamescom so very special. That’s why we’re already looking forward to being able to offer a “complete” gamescom experience here in Cologne and on the internet again.’ Gerald Böse, CEO of Koelnmesse, on the success of the first digital-only gamescom in 2020

gamescom: the concept

The success of gamescom is due in large part to the idea behind it. The event brings together representatives from every link in the video games industry’s value chain, from developers and publishers to retailers and consumers. The event creates forums for discussion at every level. The entertainment area is aimed at the consumers. It comprises four modern exhibition halls with about 218,000 square metres of floor space and an indoor and an outdoor area. Here, gamescom attendees can try out the latest games and hardware. A new addition since 2019 is the event arena, where gamescom attendees can dive into the esports scene and experience great shows and game presentations. The business area is an exclusive space for exhibitors, trade professionals and the media. The exceptional infrastructure in this area makes it an ideal forum for successfully conducting business and holding in-depth discussions.

The business area is a top meeting spot for the 31,300 trade professionals who attend the event. The gamescom congress is a think tank for digitalisation far beyond the video games industry. More than 100 speakers discuss the latest trends in several key areas of the video games industry. This conference has been officially accredited as a training programme for teachers and other education professionals. The conference is organised by Koelnmesse and supported by North Rhine-Westphalia’s Minister for Federal Affairs, Europe and Media, game – the German Games Industry Association and the City of Cologne. Another central pillar is the gamescom city festival, which features concerts and entertainment in Cologne’s city centre. The festival always creates a festive atmosphere for the entire duration of the event. In the fan shop arena, which extends over a whole hall, video game fans can find infinite amounts of merchandise. The gamescom cosplay village offers events, fun and entertainment, especially for all cosplayers.

gamescom: Opening Night Live

Logo gamescom: Opening Night Live
Another addition to gamescom in 2019 was gamescom: Opening Night Live. This new opening event at gamescom was produced by Geoff Keighley, host and producer of ‘The Game Awards’. The event takes place in the aforementioned event arena, which accommodates more than 1,500 guests. Over 500,000 concurrent viewers tuned in to the first airing of the show and during gamescom the Opening Night Live debut was viewed over 50 million times. The show was also available on the new digital platform ‘gamescom now’ which became a massive success with more than 100 million video hits during the fair itself. The star of the first gamescom: Opening Night Live in 2019 was developer legend Hideo Kojima. During the course of the event, the jury prizes for the year’s gamescom awards were also presented.

Opening Night Live had its debut at gamescom 2019 with famous video game creator Hideo Kojima (mi.) and host Geoff Keighley (ri.).
Opening Night Live had its debut at gamescom 2019 with famous video game creator Hideo Kojima (mi.) and host Geoff Keighley (ri.).

gamescom in 2020 and 2021

2020 was a unique year. Despite the many challenges that needed to be overcome, gamescom successfully went fully digital, providing a special online experience for users all around the world for four whole days. A total of five shows were produced for gamescom 2020 – gamescom: Opening Night Live; gamescom: Awesome Indies; gamescom studio; gamescom: Daily; and gamescom: Best Of Show. The events included world premieres, interviews, let’s plays and news around the clock. In 2020, gamescom reached more than 50 million people from over 180 countries, with 370 partners presenting their games. With more than 2 million concurrent viewers, gamescom: Opening Night Live 2020 was the most-watched digital event of the trade fair industry worldwide and among the top three of the gaming industry’s live streams in 2020. Successes were also achieved on social media, with partner TikTok alone generating a total of around 300 million views by the end of gamescom 2020 on Sunday night. Despite all the obstacles, gamescom 2020 showed that a purely digital event can be a huge success and proved again that it is the world’s leading games industry event.

gamescom 2021 will again kick off with Opening Night Live in collaboration with Geoff Keighley on Wednesday 25 August, with the main event taking place on the following two days. The digital-only show will feature various presentations on a revamped ‘gamescom now’ platform with many new and exciting features. The new format gamescom epix is a fun community campaign with interactive social media activities, which will start before gamescom week. Fans can score points throughout the gamescom epix journey and win unique prizes during the main gamescom event in August.

devcom: one of the most important European developers conferences

The game developer conference devcom took place for the first time in August 2017 in Cologne. From 2019 onwards, game – the German Games Industry Association reassigned the organisation of the conference. In its third year, devcom was again a great success with lots of exciting talks, summits, workshops and masterclasses. The top-class speaker line-up in 2019 included numerous legends from the video games industry, such as Noah Falstein and David Fox (both worked on the Indiana Jones adventures for Lucasarts) and the Japanese game design legend Ryuichi Nishizawa, developer of Wonder Boy and Monster World.

Like gamescom, devcom took place entirely online in 2020. The devcom digital conference brought together the international developer community and achieved impressive numbers. There were over 2,200 digital attendees at the core conference event and more than 1,000 companies participated in the matchmaking activities, which made last year’s devcom a huge success. In 2021, devcom continues to be gamescom’s official B2B partner and will, among other things, significantly expand its matchmaking and pitching offers.

gamescom asia: premiere in 2021

With gamescom asia, gamescom is expanding into one of the fastest-growing games markets in the world. It will be the premier platform for Asian game developers to explore partnerships globally and will serve as a hub for international publishers looking for the next big thing in games. The event is expected to attract more than 30,000 visitors and will feature a two-day industry gaming conference and a three-day trade and public exhibition, including esports events, a showcase of emerging technologies in video games, gaming workshops, meet-and-greet sessions, cosplay theatrics and much more. The industry conference is scheduled to take place from 14 to 15 October, and the exhibition areas will be open for trade visitors from 15 to 17 October and from 16 to 17 October for the general public.

Protection of minors and media literacy

German Chancellor Angela Merkel opening gamescom 2017: ‘Games are of paramount importance as cultural assets, drivers of innovation and economic factors.’

At gamescom, the video games industry also acknowledges its responsibility to help protect minors. At past in-person events, the provisions specified in German youth protection laws were consistently observed throughout the exhibition area, and comprehensive measures were in place to protect young attendees from harmful content, including age verification at exhibitors’ booths. Furthermore, gamescom offered a family & friends area especially for the youngest visitors.