After a stint on the home team during Comic-Con a little while ago, it was time to get my hands dirty again and get back into the field. Hitting the road – whether it’s DICE, GDC, E3, QuakeCon, GamesCom, Tokyo Game Show – these are the things that I live for in this industry. Regardless of the team only getting 3-5 hours of sleep per night, and is exhausted after knocking out each day of the show – there’s something that each of us laugh about when the day is done – we are so f%$&ing lucky to be able to do what we do.
Looking back a few days after returning from this German show, it’s amazing to see how massive it’s become. This is Europe’s only real big show, and even though there have been European shows in the past (such as ECTS), Europe isn’t going to let all the video game fun happen in North America and Japan any longer. Each year it gets bigger and bigger. Just seeing what the major companies debuted at this show is a testament to why GamesCom is becoming an important yearly event. Sony pulling back the curtains on the PS3 slim and debuting the new PSP store and Minis, to Microsoft and Peter Molyneux not only announcing Fable II episodes, but Fable III, GamesCom is becoming another outlet to announce big new things.
Not only that, but this was the first time we saw lengthy trailers for Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Other games that made huge appearances were Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIV, playable for the first time, and NCsoft dropped the word on Guild Wars 2. And even though BlizzCon was happening on the other side of the planet, Europeans got their hands on Diablo III for the first time – but only if they were willing to sit in a 4+ hour line. Hey, maybe Nintendo will finally start dropping some new stuff at GamesCom, again. You never know.
I am very happy this show continues to be a success. It’s important for the industry to have a huge event in Europe. And to the organizers' credit, not only is GamesCom a hugely popular public event, but by having a completely separate business center where the press can get quiet demos and conduct interviews is a huge bonus. There aren’t the masses to fight for a controller and there aren’t loud bass-drenching booths with dudes oogling over booth babes. It makes my job a million times easier and I’ve begged the ESA to copy this formula for next year's E3. I hope someday they completely rip off how GamesCom is done. It’s brilliant. German efficiency FTW.
Over the years that I’ve been able to work in this industry, not only have I been able to be on site to deliver the big announcements, but I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet a number of pretty incredible people along the way. Whether it’s bonding with G4 staff that I’ve never travelled with before, or random encounters with developers – it’s a lot of fun. And fortunately the developers show up in droves for this event and for some reason they’re even more accessible during GamesCom than either E3 or Tokyo Game Show. Whether it’s bumping into Peter Molyneux, iNiS's Keiichi Yano, Turn 10, or Bungie in our hotel, having cocktails with Gas Powered Games' Chris Taylor extremely late during our last night of the show, or helping Hideo Kojima, Aki Saito, and Kenichiro Imaizumi from Kojima Productions find a good place to eat on the Rhine River – as a fan of video games, it’s a pretty surreal experience.
As we trickle out the remainder of our GamesCom content, we’re already looking to the two remaining big shows of the year – PAX and Tokyo Game Show – and we’ve got a lot planned for them, as well. Even though the G4 crew that just returned from Germany are still jet lagged to hell, we’re more than ready to get back out on the road and do it again. There were some big announcements at GamesCom and I personally can’t wait to see what leaks at PAX and TGS. Who will have the biggest announcements? What will be the big playable titles? No matter which country it’s in, we’ll be bringing you all the big shows here at G4 like no one else can….