While E3 continues to get most of the press—even if lately much of the focus has been on the expansion of the industry trade show into a public hybrid event—Gamescom remains the largest video game show in the world today. Last year, over 345,000 people made the trek to Cologne, Germany. While most of those attendees were gamers attending the public show, the trade show visitors continue to grow.

Gamescom is unique in the video game market, as it kicks off Aug. 15 with GDC Europe and then transitions into a trade-only event Aug. 17 (with the trade portion continuing through Aug. 19 in a special closed-off area not accessible by the public). From Aug. 18-to-21, the rest of the massive Koelnmesse convention center.

“The unique concept of the show from the very beginning is that we cover trade, consumer, developers and publishers, and that’s only possible because of our dedicated specific platforms—GDC Europe at start, developers, publishers and press in the business area, which is the leading B2B platform in Europe, and the entertainment area, where they can get hands-on with the newest games and innovations for the first time,” Tim Endres, project manager for Gamescom, told [a]listdaily. “We get attendees from nearly 1,000 countries. We’re able to address all target groups in one date at one fair.”

Although he didn’t have specific numbers, Endres said there’s been high interest from US attendees in the past, and again this year.

“Gamescom is the only fair that has a very high diversity of platforms with console, mobile and PC gaming, hardware, virtual reality and eSports,” Endres said. “It makes Gamescom interesting for everyone because the focus is on the whole world of gaming.”

Endres said back when the show moved from Leipzig to Cologne in 2009, it started with 458 exhibitors, 17,000 trade visitors and 120,000 square meters of floor space. Last year, those numbers had increased to 806 exhibitors, 33,000 trade visitors and 193,000 square meters of floor space.


“We’ve seen a high growth rate across all three of these areas,” Endres said. “In 2016, we will follow these increases with 850 exhibitors from 53 countries, which is up from 45 countries last year. The international scope also increases with 26 country pavilions, including new countries like Indonesia, the Philippines and Columbia. This underlines the international scope of Gamescom as the leading trade fair.”

Following in the footsteps of France, the Nordic countries and the United Kingdom the past three years, Turkey is the official partner country of Gamescom 2016. Endres said this decision was made by the advisory board last October.

“Turkey is interesting for our exhibitors because it’s a big market that’s growing,” Endres said. “There are also governmental supporting programs coming up that will help bring new game developers on the market. We expect 30 exhibitors from Turkey in Hall 3.2.”

Endres said two key focuses again at Gamescom this year will be eSports and virtual reality.

“Our main theme this year is Heroes in New Dimensions, which means virtual reality with hardware like PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and many others on the show floor,” Endres said. “That also applies to eSports, which has massive global attention and is opening up  many new opportunities.”

ESL will be in Hall 9 hosting eSports competitions throughout the show. Blizzard will have Hall 7 eSports competitions. And China’s World Cyber Arena will be in Hall 5 hosting eSports matches. The size of all three company spaces has increased for 2016.

There’s also a “big increase” in virtual reality games and event space for both the trade and public side of the show, although Endres didn’t have a breakdown with numbers to compare 2015 to 2016.

The public tickets for Gamescom were completely sold out at the end of July, which Endres said is the earliest the show has ever sold out. (Selling out Gamescom is an annual tradition.) When you add the attending journalists, developers, publishers and public for the entire Gamescom week, which includes GDC Europe and the City Festival in downtown Cologne, Endres expects over 500,000 visitors this year.

This huge audience has opened up new sponsorship opportunities for companies interested in reaching a wide European audience, since attendees fly in or take trains from around the European Union.

Endres notes that while sponsorships aren’t as popular at European shows as they are in the US, Red Bull has stepped in as the exclusive energy drink partner for Gamescom 2016. In addition to having an outdoor area next to Hall 8 for events like motorcycle jumping, Red Bull will also have a booth inside Hall 8 featuring its new Red Bull Air Race game from publisher Wing Racer. Red Bull drinks have always been sold at Gamescom.

German mineral water company Gerolsteiner is also an official sponsor of Gamescom and will provide free drinks to visitors as they wait in line to get in.

Those traditionally long public lines will be even slower this year as a result of new safety and prevention measures that have been adapted. New control measures include bag checks, which will be carried out at the entrances before entering the fair grounds. These measures were put in place after a series of terrorist attacks that have occurred throughout Germany this year, dating back to 1,200 alleged sexual assaults (including 600 in Cologne) on New Year’s Eve 2015.