Gamescom could get even bigger, says organizer

E3 is the game industry's central live event. And yet, in terms of sheer size, it's dwarfed by Gamescom, which takes place each summer in Cologne, Germany.

Gamescom is the world's biggest games event, with 340,000 visitors and 635 exhibitors from 88 countries. While E3 is not open to the public, even its trade numbers are being threatened by Gamescom. E3 attracts around 50,000 people a year, allegedly all from inside the trade. Some 30,000 of the people at Gamescom work in the games business.

According to project director Tim Endres, Gamescom could become a lot bigger. "We have the space to grow. There are more halls available to us." He said that attracting more visitors is not a problem. "If we attract more exhibitors, more visitors will come," he said.

The emergence of instant communication hubs like YouTube and Twitch has not diminished the public's appetite for live events, even when they entail long waits in line as well as the expense of travel and hotels. "There is nothing better than the face-to-face experience," said Endres. "We work with guys like Twitch and the media, but the real value of Gamescom is being there. It's the only place where the trade and the media are in the same place as the gamers."

Endres said he expects more companies to use Gamescom as a platform to make big announcements and first reveals, although E3 still holds pre-eminence in this department. E3 was originally envisioned as a way for publishers to pitch products to retailers in good time for the peak holiday season, although that function is fading as retail consolidates and digital hubs grow.

There's one thing about Gamescom that will never change; the lines to play games. "There will always be lines, unfortunately," said Endres. "We work hard to make sure everyone can play the games they want to play without waiting for too long." Gamescom 2014 takes place Aug. 13-17.

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