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Germany’s big game convention will go digital in face of country’s public event ban

Gamescom 2020 ‘will definitely take place digitally’

Photo: Gamescom
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

German chancellor Angela Merkel announced plans for a “gradual and cautious loosening of stringent coronavirus measures,” the New York Times reported Wednesday, allowing some small businesses to reopen in the coming weeks. But the country’s ban on large public events has been extended, and that will mean a radical change for Germany’s massive gaming convention, Gamescom.

Gamescom draws more than 350,000 attendees annually to Cologne, Germany. This year’s event was scheduled to take place Aug. 25-29, but the country’s ban on public gatherings now extends to Aug. 31, ruling out a massive convention.

Organizers said on Twitter that the extension will affect this year’s show, but did not provide specifics, other than to say Gamescom 2020 “will definitely take place digitally.”

At Gamescom 2019, host Geoff Keighley held a special event called Gamescom Opening Night Live, a two-hour livestreamed press conference that featured game reveals and updates on Death Stranding, Gears 5, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and more. Keighley and Gamescom announced plans to bring back Opening Night Live this year on Aug. 24.

Gamescom joins large gaming gatherings like GDC and E3, both of which were canceled due to health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Update (April 16): Gamescom officials tweeted on Thursday that this year’s event is officially canceled, saying, “unfortunately, gamescom will under no circumstances take place on site in Cologne.” Organizers said they are “already working at full speed on a digital [Gamescom].”

Geoff Keighley followed up with an update of his own on Twitter, saying “Gamescom: Opening Night Live will now be an all digital show, streaming live on Monday, August 24.”