We’ve just returned from Cologne, Germany, where we enjoyed an action-packed Gamescom, the world’s largest gaming event. In its tenth year, this was the biggest exhibition so far: 370,000 visitors from 114 different countries roaming over 200,000m2 of halls to celebrate the ‘heart of gaming’ theme.
The stands were large. The crowds were huge. The gameplay was intense. But an opportunity was lost. Here’s why…
Many of the stands understandably facilitated gameplay. It appeared to be their main goal: get people on and off as quickly as possible but let them have access to their favourite game. After all, that’s why they came, right? Wrong.
Fans come to Gamescom and similar events to be part of a community. Of course they want to play the games and have fun but this is about being fans together. To be part of a team. A tribe. To indulge their passion with like-minded people who ‘get’ it, love what they love and get as fired up as they do about their favourite characters. We didn’t see enough exhibitors helping players to really, deeply interact with a game and its world.
Epic Games had it right for Fortnite. Of course there’s been a lot of media coverage about Fortnite but this is mainly due to the game’s huge success. And Epic built on this success at Gamescom by upping the interactive ante. They offered an enclosed room for streamers to run competitive matches which were output to a large LED wall. Then fans could test their skills at the Fortnight Theme Park with pickaxe duels, riding a mechanical rocket and even a zipline glider and were treated to presentations by the developers themselves on different topics, such as character backgrounds. Cosplay was encouraged (as it is at all gaming events).
Some might view the long lines for the Fortnite stand as a planning failure. Were the team disorganised? Was the stand too small? We view the backlog as a sign of success. Fans were prepared to queue long and hard to interact and savour the immersive environment of ‘their’ game.
The more that players feel connected and part of a game, the longer they’ll play that game. Gamescom is the perfect place for interaction and community but we felt the communal spirit was lacking this year. As you start planning your stand for next year, what can you do to bring it back for Gamescom 2019?