Last year, Gamescom drew more than 373,000 attendees to Cologne, Germany, during August, while Devcom drew about 3,000 professional game developers. I attended both events and moderated sessions at the sprawling Koelnmesse convention grounds. But the German government has prohibited such big events because of the coronavirus, and online is the only path forward.
This year, Gamescom will start with Geoff Keighley’s Opening Night Live event on August 27 and continue until August 30, without the huge physical expo that it normally has had in the past. It will have an online-only format, with programming that will be announced at a later time, said Felix Falk, managing director of Game (the German game industry association), in an interview with GamesBeat.
“We’ve been working on this for many weeks now, as we are adapting to the coronavirus,” Falk said. “We feel some responsibility to keep it going because so many other events are being canceled all over the world. It’s a responsibility because games have such a positive impact on society right now, and so it’s a responsibility to do a Gamescom event.”
Meanwhile, the smaller Devcom event will add new programming and span multiple weeks in the lead up to Gamescom. Devcom managing director Stephan Reichart said in an interview with GamesBeat that the new Devcom 365 program will be a year-round online event, but it will focus on the two weeks leading up to Gamescom.
“We are starting our Devcom 365 online events much earlier, in early June, and we’ll launch a lot of services,” Reichart said. “We’ll have a Discord server for the Devcom community and a Patreon site.”
In early June, Devcom will launch The GameDev Show, a new weekly podcast on the Devcom Twitch channel. Deborah Mensah-Bonsu, a former presenter of Xbox Upload and an adviser for Devcom, will host the show.
“Gamescom has had its Twitch broadcast, but for Devcom it is a new thing,” Reichart said. “On Twitch, it’s clear you have to do it in an entertaining way.”
The Devcom Digital Conference 2020 will take place from August 17 to August 30, with more than 60 pre-recorded talks that are spread out over two weeks rather than the usual three days of the physical event, Reichart said.
“We’ll have the time to focus on 60 high-class talks, or six talks a day,” Reichart said. “It’s not like having just one chance to do it live. A lot of our speakers are spread all over the world, and in case the internet connection fails, we can produce everything and put it online on a certain schedule.”
And during the summer, Devcom will introduce two new extensions: Devcom Tutorials and Devcom MasterClasses. The tutorials will take place on Twitch and will cover all aspects of game development, like tech, design, production, leadership, and also setting up your own studio.
Aimed towards indies, newcomers, students, and part-time developers, the Devcom Tutorials starting in June are intended to help young and upcoming studios to find their way to success.
The Devcom MasterClasses will be held as exclusive webinars, aimed to help, and further educate industry professionals. The Devcom MasterClasses will be starting in July. More information on the speakers, topics, and schedules will be revealed soon.
Another new feature is Devcom podcasts. Lars Janssen, the director of studio relations at Koch Media/Deep Silver; and Nico Balletta, head of programs at Devcom), will lead ask-me-anything (AMAs) with Devcom speakers and other industry experts, Devcom advisory board industry discussions, and more. The podcasts are part of a range of services that the organizers have developed in the form of various Patreon memberships. Starting in mid-June, subscribers can access the content and get a ticket for Devcom 2021 with a monthly contribution.
Finally, the Devcom Digital Conference 2020 will be an extended digital business-to-business (B2B) event in the two weeks ending August 30.
“We noticed that a lot of business people are simply not able to be eight hours a day on their desk and listen to talks and also do the matchmaking,” Reichart said.
More than 100 experts on the global games industry will be tapped for this. Devcom will use the Pine online event tool, with AI-supported matchmaking, and a virtual expo for indie game developers. Devcom will also have a virtual expo for publishers, service providers, trade groups, and more. Devcom ticket sales are available today here.
Back to Gamescom
Gamescom 2020, meanwhile, will focus on business-to-consumer (B2C) online event.
“Gamescom is really focusing on delivering very entertaining and exclusive content for the B2C fans out there,” Falk said. “It will start with Opening Night Live and go on for three more days. We want to extend our digital reach.”
The Gamescom Now content hub, where Opening Night Live will be held, will be significantly expanded this year. It will also have topic areas for creators, esports, cosplay, indies, and merchandise. The Gamescom 2020 show will be free for consumers.
Falk said Gamescom decided not to have virtual exhibit booths because the technology for it was kind of “shaky” and many of the partners have their own online sites.
“We’re not trying to make everything analog into a digital form, and that’s why we won’t do virtual booths.”
Gamescom 2020 will feature a new addition dubbed Awesome Indies, with announcements related to indie games in a show format. Gamescom will also feature its Daily Show, which will feature highlights of the event on a daily basis. Gamescom Studio will feature interviews with game developers about their games, and the event will close with Gamescom: Best of Show announcements.
Falk said that Gamescom will have programming in both English and German. And Devcom will have its English-based talks airing at a time when North American audiences will be able to watch as well.
Devcom is a subsidiary of Game, which is also the co-organizer of Gamescom.
“We are lucky we are not the first to deal with this situation,” Falk said. “We can prepare, even if it is only six months, and learn from others.”