Earlier this month we were among a crowd of more than 300,000 visitors lucky enough to attend Gamescom 2023 in Cologne, Germany. Read on for our insights from Europe's biggest gaming trade show.
Earlier this month we were among a crowd of more than 300,000 visitors lucky enough to attend Gamescom 2023 in Cologne, Germany. Having launched in 2009, it has quickly become Europe’s biggest annual trade show for digital games culture.
2023 was a record-breaking event: 320,000 attendees from over 100 countries, with 1,227 companies from 63 countries taking part. There were also 180 million views of the digital part of the event.
Since the demise of E3 in the US, it’s clear that this has become THE place for all the industry heavyweights. This year they were out in force to showcase some of the stunning games, hardware, and accessories set to land on our devices later this year.
The gaming community played its part too, with thousands of fans testing and playing the upcoming titles. It's clear that video games are poised to take the lion's share of the attention economy in Q4. So what did we learn from Gamescom 2023? Read on for our five biggest takeaways.
Five key learnings
The games industry is leading the way in meaningful collaborations and crossovers.
Brands are working with new platforms, IP holders are extending their reach via new media and platforms, and content creators are giving established brands a new audience.
These collaborations make real commercial sense, and we can expect to see even more of them in the future, especially around Christmas.
Gamescom 2023 was a gathering of creators. Dedicated areas around the show enabled creators to live-stream content, pre-record videos, and interact with fans.
The passion and enthusiasm of the creator community was infectious, and it was clear they’re a vital part of the games ecosystem. Many in the games publishing industry commented on the joy they get from a content creator really understanding their vision for a game, and enhancing that element to an audience they may never reach via traditional channels.
This sent a message to all creators out there: ”Keep up the great work. The brands you love, love you back.”
Content is king in today’s digital world, and the games industry is no exception. To keep pace, publishers need to create engaging content that will stand out from the crowd.
At Gamescom, this meant screen grabs, game code, booth design, and VIP attendees. Xbox went to great lengths to create engaging content for its booth, and it paid off: fans had the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the hottest upcoming titles including Starfield, Forza and Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, alongside a whole host of gaming pods that were filled from start to finish.
The magic ingredient. Every industry partner we chatted with stated two clear objectives: customer retention, and attracting new customers to their franchise.
With so much marketing hype surrounding games of all sizes, the challenge is to keep current customers engaged and loyal. As both of these elements grow, the likelihood of players becoming advocates and part of the community increases. It’s key therefore that brands in this space stay relevant and engaging.
Most games companies are also working to reach new customers through an ever-changing mix of channels, with new platforms emerging all the time. This is where collaborations with other brands, creators, and influencers are key – helping them find that perfect formula for impactful games marketing.
Finding your flock is one of the real treasures of being a gamer. Conversations with communities, both online and IRL, are the lifeblood of achieving customer retention.
Every sector could learn a lot from the games industry in this arena. Too often, digital communications can feel like a one-way broadcast, when all customers really crave is genuine interaction with the brands they love.
Companies of all sizes made a huge effort to give their communities access to the heart of their franchises at Gamescom. This was evident in dedicated community areas, the live streaming events, and the interactive experiences.
What's next for the gaming industry?
The games industry is constantly evolving, but one thing remains constant: the passion of the gaming community.
This year, in the bustling heart of Cologne, we witnessed the warmth of the games industry in all its glory. It's clear this landmark event is increasingly cementing its status as the epicentre of digital games culture in Europe.
As the dust settles, keeping creativity, collaboration, community and a player-first approach at its core will be key to the success of the games industry for years to come.
Photo: Koelnmesse / gamescom