Riding in the wake of GDC Europe, Gamescom 2012 is Europe's largest trade fair for games and interactive entertainment. It runs from August 15th through August 19th in Cologne, Germany, and includes more than 600 companies from 40 countries, and Polygon will be on the floor to bring you all the Gamescom news you can shake a warlock's staff or a space marine's gun at.
Riding on the heels of GDC Europe, Gamescom 2012 is Europe's largest trade fair for games and interactive entertainment. It runs from August 15th through August 19th in Cologne, Germany, and includes more than 600 companies from 40 countries, and Polygon will be on the floor to bring you all the Gamescom news you can shake a warlock's staff or a space marine's gun at.
Unlike E3, Gamescom is open to both the public and the press, and that creates an eclectic mix of industry- and consumer-driven content spanning the continuum from gaming tournaments to mini job fairs to cosplay contests. It's designed to have something for everyone.
We're on the ground, and ready to file once the show kicks off, so before the anticipation drives us mad, we thought we'd give you a taste of what you can expect from Gamescom 2012.
The lay of the land
Remember how we said that Gamescom has something for everyone? Well, you don't have to look any further than the hall plan above to see what we mean.
Gamescom's entertainment area spanning buildings 6 through ten is the centerpiece of the show, and its geographical hegemony reflects it. From the 16th through the 19th, it's open to all visitors.
Inside the behemoth entertainment area, the event level (that's 10.1 and 10.2 for those of you following along at home) serves as a bastion of relaxation amidst all the gaming news. According to the organizers, "funsport, action and chillout is the motto," and there's a plenty of activity planned to support that claim.
The entertainment area includes a skate park and a leg of the Relentless COS Cup skating tournament. The Gamescom trailer cinema will show game trailers daily. Attendees can also play ping pong with their heads (that's called headis), crossboccia, soccer, basketball, and micro golf, and ride on a 3,000-square-meter go-kart track. The outdoor area includes a waterless wave and beach, a high rope course, and a motorbike test course.
On the Gamescom campus, attendees will find speakers' corner, where topics range from the media to the protection of minors. It also serves as home for the German CaseMod Championship, which gives teams of two 24 hours over three days to trick out a computer case. Germany's game industry occupies part of the campus, too, and this is where attendees can seek employment and learn about their options for an education in gaming. Over 600 square meters are devoted to the Retro Gaming exhibition, which presents the history of computer gaming. To celebrate the Commodore 64's 30th anniversary, the console will have a large presence. Rounding out the education, an exhibit called "The Art of Games" will focus on video game concept art.
The Gamescom congress is "dedicated to socio-political presentations, workshops, and discussions on games" with an explicit goal of expanding the dialogue between the video game industry and the rest of society.
Gamescom camp is a tent city filled with Gamescom attendees.
The Gamescom festival is a combination music and entertainment featuring many German-sounding bands like Kettcar, DER KÖNIG TANZT, and Olli Schulz. In addition to the tunes, Sony, Ubisoft, Activision, and Electronic Arts will have gaming stations scattered throughout the festival.
The Gamescom awards will be selected by a jury of 20 members of the international games industry, and the winners will be announced shortly after Gamescom 2012 concludes.
The Gamescom cosplay village is exactly what it sounds like. Costumes are far more than welcome.
Day by day
Gamescom opens to press and exhibitors on August 15th and to the public on August 16th. Here's the breakdown of the biggest events.
Key events for August 14th
- Capcom will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. local time (5 a.m. ET).
- Electronic Arts will hold a press conference on August 14th at 4 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET).
- Sony will hold a press conference at 7 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET).
Key events for August 15th
- Ubisoft will hold a press conference at 3 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET). Top Ubisoft executives will unveil new free-to-play titles set in the universes of some of Ubisoft's popular franchises and detail the company's plans in eSports and other growing online game spaces.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 will see the world premiere of its multiplayer component at Gamescom 2012. The announcement will be be streamed live from the show on Xbox Live throughout Europe, the United States, and Canada. The reveal will be hosted by Major Nelson and AceyBongos, and live gameplay from the show floor will be streamed daily starting on Wednesday, August 15th, at 6 p.m. local time (12 p.m. ET).
Key events for Thursday August 16th
- Blizzard will premiere the opening cinematic for the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, "Mists of Pandaria," on Thursday, August 16th, at 2 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET).
August 17th through the 19th
- Gamescom's last three days eschew the shows, keynotes, and announcements in favor of letting Gamescom be Gamescom.
What we've got below is a laundry list of publishers and developers, and the games they'll be bringing. (Notably absent from the list: Nintendo and Microsoft, both of which passed on Gamescom this year.) As a bonus, every link will take you to Polygon's coverage of each game, so you can read up on the very stuff you'll learn about from Germany.
The big guns
- Activision and Treyarch will premiere Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 multiplayer in a livestreamed broadcast on Xbox Live. Attendees will also be able to play the new multiplayer offerings.
- Bethesda will have Dishonored and Doom 3 BFG Edition.
- Blizzard will debut the opening cinematic for the World of Warcraft expansion "Mists of Pandaria," and a playable demo for the single-player campaign in the StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm expansion. It will sponsor a costume contest and feature music from Diablo, StarCraft, and World of Warcraft, played by an orchestra. Blizzard will also host versus matches with renowned StarCraft 2 players and live World of Warcraft raids. They'll even sponsor a session in which accomplished players teach StarCraft strategies. On Sunday afternoon, Blizzard will host the 2012 European World of Warcraft Invitational Final, with winners securing a spot in the Battle.net World Championships to be held in China later this year.
- Capcom will have Resident Evil 6, Lost Planet 3, and DmC: Devil May Cry on hand.
- Electronic Arts will unveil new content and services from FIFA 13, Medal of Honor Warfighter, Need for Speed Most Wanted, Crysis 3, SimCity, FIFA Manager, NHL 13, Army of Two The Devil's Cartel, Battlefield 3, Dead Space 3, The Secret World as well as offerings from EA Mobile/Social. They've also got a pre-Gamescom event on August 14th at 4 p.m. local time (10 a.m. EDT).
- Konami will bring Metal Gear Rising Revengeance, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate, and Pro Evolution Soccer 2013.
- Namco Bandai will have Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Ni No Kuni, One Piece Pirate Warriors, Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition, Star Trek, Tank! Tank! Tank!, and Tales of Graces F.
- Sega will have a reduced presence at the show — they're setting up shop within the KochMedia booth with Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed and Total War: Rome II.
- Sony is the only platform holder attending. On Tuesday, August 14th, they'll livestream a panel about "games as art" followed by a Q&A with Shuhei Yoshida, Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios president; Kellee Santiago, thatgamecompany co-founder (Journey); Alex Evans, Media Molecule (LittleBigPlanet Karting) co-founder; and Ian Dallas, Giant Sparrow co-founder (The Unfinished Swan). You can tweet your questions for the panelists to Sony with the hashtag #PSGC.
- Square Enix will bring the first gameplay presentation of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn to Gamescom, and Hitman: Absolution will be playable on PC for the first time. They'll also have Tomb Raider, Sleeping Dogs, Quantum Conundrum, Final Fantasy VII for the PC, and Gameglobe. Mobile highlights include Final Fantasy Dimensions, KooZac, Motley Blocks, Qwirkle, SolaRola, and Mensa Academy.
- THQ will have Company of Heroes 2 in unplayable form.
- Ubisoft will be bringing Assassin's Creed 3, Assassin's Creed 3 Liberation for Vita, Far Cry 3, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Online, and ShootMania Storm. They'll also be displaying their upcoming Wii U games, including ZombiU, Rabbids Land, Rayman Legends, Sports Connection, and Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013. We wouldn't be surprised if Ubisoft displayed some offerings for the PC, too.
The smaller guns
- 11 bit studios will have Anomaly Warzone Earth, a top-down real-time strategy game coming to PlayStation 3, as well as new mobile titles.
- ArenaNet will have Guild Wars 2.
- Bohemia Interactive and Dean Hall will have DayZ, the zombified Arma 2 mod that will see release as a standalone game.
- CCP Games will bring Dust 514, the PlayStation 3 tie-in to Eve Online.
- CD Projekt Red will premiere REDkit, a modding tool for The Witcher 2.
- Deep Silver will be showing Dead Island: Riptide and has also teased news about an unannounced title. They'll also have Sacred Citadel playable for the first time and Secret Files 3, a classic point-and-click adventure game for PC.
- Focus Home Interactive will have Farming Simulator 2013 and promote its new online features.
- Frozenbyte will show a Trine 2 expansion and Trine 2: Director's Cut for Wii U. They'll also premiere Splot, a new multiplatform game.
- Gamania Digital Entertainment Europe will bring massively multiplayer online role-playing games Core Blaze, a new game, and Langrisser Schwarz, a remake of the tactical JPG Langrisser series.
- Gameforge will arrive with massively multiplayer online role-playing games, including a playable version of RaiderZ, and a preview of the next Aion content update. The company is also looking to hire 70 or so individuals and will be talking to prospective candidates.
- Kalypso Media will have Legends of Pegasus, The Dark Eye: Demonicon, Dark, Omerta: City of Gangsters, Port Royale 3, Alien Spidy, and Dollar Dash.
- Larian Studios is bringing both Divinity: Dragon Commander and Divinity: Original Sin.
- Nyamyam is bringing Tengami, a pop-up game.
- Neocore Games will be on hand with The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing.
- Nexon will have Shadow Company, a new massively multiplayer online first-person shooter from developer Doobic, and a new, unannounced Naval real-time strategy game.
- Ninja Theory is bringing DmC: Devil May Cry.
- Perfect World Entertainment and Cryptic Studios will bring new Neverwinter content.
- Quantic Dream will have Beyond: Two Souls.
- Red 5 Studios is bringing Firefall, and will hold a beta tournament.
- Riot Games will sponsor the League of Legends European Season Two Regionals from August 16th through August 19th.
- ROCCAT will bring new gaming peripherals, and the new Power-Grid app for smartphones.
- Ronimo Games will be showing Awesomenauts.
- Sony Computer Entertainment Santa Monica Studios is bringing God of War: Ascension.
- Spiders and Cyanide will show off Of Orcs and Men.
- Trion Worlds will bring the hands-on consumer debut of Rift: Storm Legion and a first look at End of Nations campaign gameplay playable on 24 PCs. They'll also feature player-versus-player combat in their Defiance massively multiplayer online role-playing game, which will be hands-on for Gamescom visitors over 18. Warface's new content for the Crytek-developed free-to-play FPS will be there alongside a showcase of previously unseen player-versus-player gameplay.
- Turtle Beach will unveil a Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 headset and co-host the game's multiplayer at their booth.
- UIG Entertainment will show off Farming Giant, Highland Warriors: Battlecry, Into the Dark, Agricultural Simulator 2013, and nk Pro Racing.
- United Front Games is bringing LittleBigPlanet Karting.
- Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Traveller's Tales have got Lego The Lord of the Rings.
- Wargaming.net will have World of Warplanes on the floor.
Traveling to shows means visiting new cities, and there's always a few hot spots that visitors flock to. For example, if we were at E3 in Los Angeles, we'd book an appointment at an In-N-Out Burger.
Cologne, Germany, which was founded in 38 B.C., is steeped in history. Cologne Cathedral's heaven-focused spires are the focal point of the Catholic Archdiocese of Cologne and arguably the pinnacle of Gothic architecture. The University of Cologne is one of Germany's largest and oldest institutions of higher learning.
But that's the periphery. Gamescom is unique because it aims to be a self-contained city-within-a-city for the five days of its existence, filled with a mishmash of entertainment and news, business and leisure. Being a citizen of the temporary metropolis all but guarantees news of all shapes and sizes, and we can't wait to bring it to you.
Be sure to stop back during Gamescom 2012. We'll have constant updates, previews, and breaking news here and elsewhere just for you.