Last year’s digital version of gaming convention gamescom is replaced by an on-site event in Cologne this year.
Taking place from August 24-28, 2021, gamescom 2022 returns to various areas of the Koelnmesse, but also celebrates gaming in Cologne itself with the City Festival which offers music acts from August 26-28 at the two locations Hohenzollernring and Rudolfplatz. The latter events are free of charge, although it will be interesting to see how or if there will be any Corona regulations or precautions.
Tickets for the main event will only be available in the online shop and can’t be bought on site. Unlike previous years (before Corona), none of them are sold out, which might be due to the increased admission prices (around 10 EUR more compared to 2019; so 30 instead of 20 EUR for the weekend, e.g.) or because some of the biggest companies won’t be there, like Nintendo and Blizzard.
There are also some other and welcome changes: The “Green Ticket” supports the gamescom forest project (planting and growing more trees in Bayreuth, Bavaria in Germany), as one joins the cause with just 1 EUR extra. If one is more interested in checking out games, but with shorter waiting times, then there’s the “Superfan” ticket for an additional 1,99 EUR which allows visitors to have 3 instead of 2 Fast Lane Tickets. These makes it possible to book time slots for trailer shows, presentations, or simply playing certain games in the areas.
Of course there are still plenty of games to check out, especially in the Indie Arena Booth, and it’s here where the hybrid version takes form once again. Just as with devcom 2022 which also offers people the chance to experience the event online and on site (including the NRW Indie Expo 2022), here one will be able to play game demos in the comfort and safety of one’s home. gamescom digital 2021 showed that it was possible to enjoy meeting people in the online space and exploring indie titles in an RPG-like community world which was a lot of fun, so hopefully this will be part of the experience again.
The reason why I dwell so much on the hybrid concept is that I won’t be able to attend this year’s gamescom in person, at least not on site (see Upcoming gaming events: devcom 2022). As there isn’t any option for an online-only accreditation, it will be a no-go for me. Of course I’ll still try to cover some of the live shows (like the Opening Night on August 23) and the Indie Arena Booth will be a great chance as well, but it simply doesn’t make any sense otherwise. As much as I’d like to see and meet all the nice PR teams, developers, and publishers as during gamescom 2019, the risks are a bit too high for me at the moment.
gamescom has announced that it will have “improved entrance management, optimised visitor guidance, wider aisles or digital waiting queue management” and will also have a “comprehensive hygiene policy” with further regulations (like mouth nose protection, specifications for the Covid status vaccinated/recovered/tested) ready, depending on how the Covid situation will be. But with the masses of people to be expected and especially the very closed spaces in the business area (not to say the crowded Indie Arena Booth), I’m not sure this will be enough. There’s also the problem of public transportation systems which usually break down during that time, and after I had one particularly nasty experience on one weekend with drunken soccer fans singing inside a train compartment without any masks on, it’s something I don’t want to see or hear again.
If you’re interested in more information, check out the official website of gamescom, as it will also provide the necessary links for the various YouTube videos that will promote all sorts of gaming during that time of the year. I should also mention EPIX which already starts tomorrow, on August 1, 2022 and lasts until the end of gamescom. It seems to imitate the concept of the Indie Arena Booth by involving the player in an online, but also on-site RPG experience. One gains experience points through quests, e.g. answering game quizzes correctly, leveling up one’s avatar and thus unlocking new features and loot.