The German city of Cologne is all set to host Gamescom, the biggest computer and video game event in the world. DW takes a look at the worldwide digital games market and new developments in this fast-growing sector.
Cologne’s international exhibition center, Koelnmesse, is being transformed into the most important venue worldwide for presenting newly-developed computer and video games.
For five days beginning August 5, over 800 developers from more than 45 countries are expected to present their new wares – 14 percent more than in 2014.
“Gamescom has been a true success story since it began to be held in Cologne. And it is reflected in all key figures such as the number of developers attending and visitors,” said Gerald Böse, the head of Koelnmesse.
Tickets sold out
Since 2009, the number of developers attending the event has climbed by 53 percent. At the same time, visitors’ numbers have risen by 82 percent and the exhibition space has also grown by 61 percent.
But there is also bad news for those thinking about paying a visit to the event: All day tickets for the general public have already sold out. Last year, Gamescom attracted 335,000 people.
“Nowhere else do so many developers, publishers and traders congregate like they do here in Cologne,” Böse said in an interview with DW.
In conjunction with Gamescom, Game Developers Conference Europe (GDC Europe) is also being held in Cologne from August 3 on. It is important platform for game developers.
In Germany, there are currently about 13,000 fulltime game developers, according to the Federal Association of Interactive Entertainment Software (BIU), an industry body. It notes that these developers have created 32,000 jobs in the country. However, similar to other sectors such as engineering and technology, the branch has been facing a huge challenge in the form of an acute shortage of qualified labor.
Huge market and technology driver
The digital games sector worldwide is a multibillion dollar market. In Germany alone, the branch had sales worth 2.67 billion euros ($2.92 billion). For the first time this year, BIU commissioned a market research firm – GfK – to study the market.
The researchers have estimated the industry’s sales to go up by 3 percent in the first half of the year. Reacting to this projection, Maximilian Shenk, the head of BIU, said: “This is a very positive signal for us because it is usually in the second half of the year that we see a huge chunk of sales in our industry.”
“No other media sector in Germany is growing as strongly as the computer and video games industry,” noted Shenk. One of the strongest drivers of growth is the market for video game consoles and games. In the first six months of this year, revenue from sales of games for stationary consoles such as PlayStation 4, Wii U and Xbox stood at 306 million euros, up from 263 million euros generated during the same period last year.
Downloads and apps are in vogue
People now favor purchasing computer and video games via download, and its share of the total sales rose in the first half of the year from 23 to 25 percent. Nevertheless, the vast majority of revenue – 75 percent – still comes from sales of games via data storage devices such as DVDs and Blu-ray Discs.
Game apps are the most important driver of the app and smartphone market. They are an indispensable part of the daily lives of millions of Germans, irrespective of their age group. Game apps accounted for three-quarters of German sales in the app stores of Apple and Google in the second quarter, while others’ share amounted to a mere 25 percent.