How Gamescom became the biggest gaming show in the world

Gamescom

Photo: © Koelnmesse GmbH / Thomas Klerx

This year’s Gamescom promises to be one of the biggest in the show’s storied history. With a new live show kicking off the gaming festival, along with the usual four days filled with press and players roaming the halls of the huge Koelnmesse convention centre, it’s an exciting place to be if you’re a gamer. But did you know that it is the biggest gaming trade show in the world, bringing in 370,000 visitors last year?

With Gamescom entering its 11th year, we’re looking back at the history of the show, looking at how it grew, and why it’s become one of the most anticipated events in the gaming calendar, all without moaning about that one time someone pushed in front of us at a line to play PS VR at the show. Anyway, Gamescom!

Gamescom

Photo: © Koelnmesse GmbH / Harald Fleissner

Photo: © Koelnmesse GmbH / Thomas Klerx

This year’s Gamescom promises to be one of the biggest in the show’s storied history. With a new live show kicking off the gaming festival, along with the usual four days filled with press and players roaming the halls of the huge Koelnmesse convention centre, it’s an exciting place to be if you’re a gamer. But did you know that it is the biggest gaming trade show in the world, bringing in 370,000 visitors last year?

With Gamescom entering its 11th year, we’re looking back at the history of the show, looking at how it grew, and why it’s become one of the most anticipated events in the gaming calendar, all without moaning about that one time someone pushed in front of us at a line to play PS VR at the show. Anyway, Gamescom!

Start of the show

The first Gamescom took place from 19 August to the 23 August in 2009, with an impressive 245,000 people attending the show that year. And they were in for a treat, with games like Bioshock 2, Modern Warfare 2, and Mass Effect 2 all shown off during the week.

This show also saw conferences from Sony and Microsoft, who used the show to announce a slim version of the PS3 and Fable II respectively. Unlike E3, which was opened to the public in 2017, Gamescom has been open to the public since its inception, which has helped drive interest in it every year.

In 2010, 254,000 passed through the halls of the Koelnmesse and were treated to early looks at the likes of Fable III, Killzone 3, and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. The number of attendees has consistently crept up over the years, with 2011 and 2012 both seeing 275,000 head to the show, thanks to the chance to go hands-on with some of the biggest games months before they come out.

Gamescom

Photo: © Koelnmesse GmbH / Oliver Wachenfeld

Esports interest

It’s not just the promise of seeing new games live that draws people to Gamescom though. Across its history, it’s hosted several esports tournaments that have given attendees a chance to witness some of the best players in the world go keyboard-to-keyboard against each other. For instance, Dota 2’s The International tournament was held at Gamescom in 2011, which saw the Ukrainian team Natus Vincere win a staggering $1 million for coming out on top.

That’s not the only esports tournament the show has held either. In 2013, the global finals of the Season 2 StarCraft II World Championship Series took place at Gamescom, alongside three League of Legends tournaments. Then, in 2014, the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive ESL One championship took place at Gamescom. It showcased how the trade show was more than just a chance to see upcoming games, and offered the opportunity to immerse yourself within a widing gaming culture.

Gamescom

Photo: © Koelnmesse GmbH / Oliver Wachenfeld

Bigger than ever

In recent years, Gamescom has continued to grow in size and importance. In 2016, the show saw 345,000 people head to the Koelnmesse (and those lucky so-so’s got the chance to play the likes of Resident Evil 7, Battlefield 1, and Cuphead months before they came out), while 2017 saw Angela Merkle become the first sitting German Chancellor to open the show, demonstrating how its appeal was starting to spread into the mainstream.

Now, with Gamescom 2019 on our doorsteps, it looks like the show’s biggest years are ahead of it. This year kicks off with a new event hosted by Geoff Keighly called Gamescom: Opening Night Live, which takes place on Monday 19 August. As the man behind the hugely successful The Game Awards, it’s certain to put Gamescom at the heart of the gaming headlines throughout August.

The only question now is what will be revealed during the show?

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