Gamescom 2017 is underway in Cologne, Germany and this year’s trends have already become apparent: hardware, esports and history-based games are hot.
While E3 is all about the big announcements, Gamescom reinforces the hype with demos and additional information, strategically presented before the big holiday shopping season.
Esports Is Kind Of A Big Deal
The German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) may not recognize esports as a sport, but competitive gaming is alive and well in Cologne this week. The nearly 54,000 square foot ESL Arena is hosting high profile tournaments during Gamescom featuring CS:GO, FIFA 17, League of Legends, Rainbow Six: Siege and this year’s breakout hit, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds.
Even mobile esports will be a prominent player this year, with Tencent Games bringing its 5v5 MOBA Arena of Valor to the ESL Arena. Players can challenge professional MOBA esports players to win an iPhone 7 Plus and other prizes, before watching them battle each other in the first major Arena of Valor show match in Europe.
Clash Royale will also bring mobile esports to fans this week—32 players coming from qualifiers will fight to win the Clash Royale title and a cash prize worth €5,000 ($5,880).
Other competitions taking place during Gamescom include the Crossfire European Tournament Finals, the Project Cars World Final, the Blade & Soul European Regional Championship, PlayStation Masters, the World of Warcraft European Championship Finals, the Hearthstone Global Games Finals, Heroes of the Storm: Showdown and more.
Esports is even part of German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel’s election campaign platform. In fact, Gamescom opened its doors on Tuesday with words of praise from the Chancellor, herself.
“Computer and video games are of the utmost importance as cultural assets, as a driving force for innovation and as an economic factor, which is why I was also very pleased to come to Cologne to provide this developing industry with my recommendation,” the Chancellor said, addressing over 300 invited guests and journalists.
We're at #gamescom2017 all week! Come play games and watch esports live at the ESL Arena in Hall 9 🙌 pic.twitter.com/elqphlzsmU
— ESL (@ESL) August 22, 2017
It’s All About That Hardware
Video game hardware sales have enjoyed a boost this year thanks to the Nintendo Switch, and publishers want to keep that momentum going into the holiday season.
Microsoft announced that the Xbox One X and its Project Scorpio Edition (the collector’s edition that uses the longtime code name) are now available for pre-order. There are currently more than 100 enhanced titles confirmed for the console when it launches November 7, including Rise of the Tomb Raider, Halo 5 and The Witcher 3. With an 8-core Custom AMD CPU, 326 GB/sec memory bandwidth, 4K graphics and more, Microsoft is betting big on “the world’s most powerful console” to be a hit this fall.
However, the company didn’t forget its other Xbox family, revealing a special limited edition Minecraft Xbox One S and brand new Shadow of War bundle, both available for pre-order to be delivered October 3 and 10, respectively.
Even Xbox One is getting three new Kinect games, originally released for Xbox 360, including Disneyland Adventures, Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure and Zoo Tycoon.
Nintendo continues the hype for its Switch console by showing off Splatoon 2, ARMS, Super Mario Odyssey and Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. The SNES Classic Edition will have an instant rewind feature, Nintendo announced, allowing players to briefly scroll back through the section of the game they just played to grab missed items, master difficult portions and more.
There is also an SNES-themed 3DS XL on the way, although it’s not clear whether North American retailers will offer the nostalgia-fueled handheld.
PlayStation is riding high with the best-selling console, but the company isn’t satisfied with marketing only to core gamers. PlayStation’s head of global marketing and sales Jim Ryan believes that appealing to a new market outside of core gaming communities will help propel the platform to 100 million units.
“We’ve now sold through 60 million PS4s, so the core gamer audience [has] bought in,” he told Inside PlayStation. “So now we’re looking for ways to appeal to a new audience, a less engaged audience, a younger audience—perhaps even an older audience. So people who may be a little bit intimidated by the DualShock 4 and all of its buttons, so the thinking was to find an interface that people are very familiar and comfortable with, and there’s nothing better than a smartphone.”
Core gamers weren’t left out of the Gamescom announcements, however, as evidenced by a GT Sport-inspired limited edition PS4 Pro console.
HP is also targeting core gamers with its Omen X laptop, designed for performance over high resolution—unless you dish out up to $3,699 for the 4K version. The high-end laptop features overclocking support, parts that are easily upgraded and custom RGB LEDs.
Historical Games Are So Hot Right Now
Video games take us to worlds beyond our imaginations, and many of the popular titles this year share something in common—being inspired by world history
Gamers everywhere are “playing their history” with top games like Battlefield 1. EA unveiled Battlefield 1 Revolution, which includes the complete game as well as its Premium Pass and the game’s four expansions: They Shall Not Pass, In the Name of the Tsar, Turning Tides, and Apocalypse.
Fans got their first look at Call of Duty: WWII‘s Headquarters Mode, a 48-player gathering space modeled after the Allies’ Normandy beach encampment a few days after D-day.
World of Tanks will get a new update for Xbox One and PlayStation called War Stories, a narrative-driven campaign mode that employs alternate history for 20th-century tank battles. An upgraded version will also become available for the new Xbox One X.
Spanning multiple ancient civilizations, Age of Empires IV was officially announced, as well, and players are invited to join the closed beta.
Set in ancient Egypt, Assassin’s Creed: Origins received a new gameplay trailer at Gamescom, as well that showcases detailed environments from the land of the Pharaohs.