Gamescom is a big deal. Itís the largest video games trade fair in the world with 275,000 people visiting this year, a staggering 18,000 more people than last year. In fact, so many people turned up on the Saturday that by noon the convention hall had reached capacity and was forced to refuse entry to those unfortunate to turn up a bit late. Despite the unfortunate circumstance it just proves just how big the show really is and despite Germany having a reputation of over censoring and banning violent video games, they really do care about the industry because the best part of Gamescom is the fact that it is open to the public and average Joes like me can walk in and see/play the biggest games in the industry.
Now going off to a foreign country to play games is all well and good but going off to play games with friends is even better. If youíre reading this then youíre probably familiar with the whole Dtoid community is awesome thing already and if youíre not, well you owe it to yourself to find out. Iíve documented before how much I love Dtoid
but it still surprises me how much the community has grown since I joined Dtoid in 2008. Last year about 8 Dtoiders journeyed to Cologne for Gamescom 2010 but this year that number nearly doubled to 15. Now, this may seem like a small number and doesnít come anywhere nearing the numbers of PAX Prime but letís not forget that Dtoid presence at PAX has been growing for years and Gamescom isnít the same type of event as PAX and also is a tad more expensive.
Iíve had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know the vast majority of the Dtoid EU community for quite some time and I can say with 100% confidence that they are like family to me. I love each and every one of them dearly and spending time with the ones that came to Gamescom was simply a joy. It may not be so obvious but the Dtoid EU community is quite sizable (I believe we are the 2nd or 3rd largest community on Dtoid) but unfortunately we are usually separated by a couple of hundred miles across a whole continent, so the chance to hang out and play games at something as spectacular as Gamescom is something you really should experience for yourselves. All the late nights chatting bullshit, the meals out and about the city of Cologne, the shuffling and dancing at the parties, the good times spent in the queues were all special moments I will cherish forever because of the Dtoiders who made it what it was.
Cologne and Gamescom itself
Cologne is a wonderful city. There may not be much to ďdoĒ there but itís a beautiful place, the food is great, the people are charming and friendly and itís just a great place to wander around. The best part of all though is how much the city really embraces Gamescom. There are posters and advertisements for the event and specific games everywhere without them feeling obtrusive or ugly and the fact that a ticket for Gamescom also covers all your travel in Cologne, getting around is easy and hassle free.
Over the weekend Cologne also hosts the Gamescom festival where they close one of the main streets and erect two stages for live bands to play and fill the street with trailers where you can try a handful of the games on show at the main convention hall; all of which is completely free. Sadly all the bands that played were all German so I have no idea who they are but they managed to pull in good sized crowds so they must be relatively well known.
Gamescom is massive. The public areas take up four of the main halls and the business areas for press takes up another two (but have two floors) which are all filled to the brim with wonderful video games. Itís also the first time a lot of publishers allow the public to see and get hands on with games long before their release dates. Last year I saw a live demo of Deus Ex: Human Revolution for the first time at Gamescom 2010 and it is now being released this week, a whole year later and this year I managed to play around with a PS Vita before it comes out next year.
Simply walking around the convention halls can be a wonder in itself. Publishers spare no expensive when it comes to making their stands look enthralling. The pure level of spectacle is simply breathtaking, whether youíre playing Sonic Generations in Segaís Green Hill Zone, sit in a desert bar playing Uncharted 3 or play Dance Star Party on the beach, seeing how the games are presented is almost as cool as actually playing the games. Almost.
The only problem is that with such high profile games on show there are bound to be queues. No matter what the game, there will be a queue and on average, a 30 Ė 45 minute wait is considered a short queue and for most games youíre looking at 1 Ė 2 hours of quality waiting (which is why you should come with Dtoid EU and hang out in the queues for fun times!). There are of course exceptions and the big one this year is the winner of the prestigious ďBest of GamescomĒ award: Battlefield 3. EA always has an impressive presence at Gamescom and this year not only were Need for Speed The Run, Mass Effect 3, FIFA 12 and the Old Republic playable but they had 64 player multiplayer sessions of Battlefield 3 as well. On the final day, a Sunday no less, I managed to get in a little early as the doors were opening and immediately afterward people were running past me; I keep on walking and I see people running in from the other entrances, all seemingly headed in the same direction. They were all headed for Battlefield 3.
The Gamescom doors opened at 9am and by 9:05am people had already filled out the main queuing area for Battlefield 3 and the line had spilled around the huge stand. Before I had seen the queue there was already approximately a two hour wait and the Mass Effect 3 queue which was next to it had about 20 people in it. Throughout the entirety of Gamescom there was an average queuing time of 9 hours for Battlefield 3. Now if you consider that each session has 64 players in it and each session was about 20 -30 minutes long, EA had a turnaround of 128 people an hour which means that on average there were over 1152 people in the queue for Battlefield 3 for most of Gamescom 2011. That is insane.
This year I was lucky enough to see quite a few things behind closed doors with the press but the disappointing thing about this is that with the exception of Saints Row the Third and Battlefield 3 (2 player co-op), I never got to actually play any games; they were all hands off walk through demos. Of course I got to see some things that were not on show on the show floor; however it is ironic that the press get less time playing games in the press area, than the public does on the show floor.
Anyway, I wonít bore you with any impressions of any games or else this will go on forever but I will list everything I saw and played to help give a sense of scale of what is on show at Gamescom. I also got to ride a camel.
Hands off live demos:
Sine Mora (not on show floor)
Black Knight Sword (not on show floor)
Binary Domain (not on show floor)
Aliens Colonial Marines (not on show floor)
Rise of Nightmares (not on show floor)
Lollipop Chainsaw (not on show floor)
Metro Last Light
Playable hands on:
Street Fighter X Tekken
Resident Evil Revelations
Ace Combat Assault Horizon
Ultimate MvC 3
Battlefield 3 (2 player co-op)
Dance Central 2
Star Wars Kinect
Once Upon a Monster
Sonic Generations (console and 3DS)
Final Fantasy XIII-2
Uncharted the Golden Abyss (on Vita)
Wipeout 2048 (on Vita)
Joe Danger the Movie
Resistance Burning Skies (on Vita)
Little Deviants (on Vita)
Ridge Racer Unbounded
Super Mario 3D Land
Mario Kart 7
Kid Icarus (multiplayer)
Spider-Man Edge of Time
Luigiís Mansion 2
The Darkness 2
Saints Row the Third (not on show floor)
Gotham City Imposters
Resistance 3 (with and without Move)
Goldeneye Reloaded (with Move Sharpshooter)
MGS3 Snake Eater 3D
Ratchet and Clank All 4 One
Pixel Junk Sidescroller
Sound Shapes (on Vita)
Need for Speed: The Run
Ninja Gaiden 3
Mass Effect 3
Batman: Arkham City
Trackmania 2 Canyon
Silent Hill Downpour
Payday: The Heist
If you get the chance to go to Gamescom in the future I highly recommend it and better still, go with Dtoid EU. I guarantee youíll love it. See you at Gamescom 2012!