gamescom – indie perspective, review and summary

By now, we all know how big the gamescom was. All the figures of attendance are just amazing. Also a few helpful summaries were already written – here and here. It is pretty clear that the gamescom is a big thing. And we just couldn’t miss such a big thing by not going!

We have attended as a trade visitors and it was wort it. Access to four more exhibition floors gave us plenty to see, inspiration and contacts. Contrary to other posts on gamescom subject, this one will be partially serious, partially lightweight and funny. Let me summarize it in a few points…

Best giveaway – Gauntelt’s inflatable leg Some publishers did giveaways, some didn’t. From pretty standard stickers and fliers to pens and small posters, this inflatable leg really kicks ass! A bit bizarre, perhaps a bit weird, but definitively standing out from the crowd :) Ohh, and let me also mention that it has been handed out from a RPG/dungeon-looking wooden chest… really hard to forget it.

Best advice – “Bring some of your own food into the expo. Unless you are happy eating bratwurst 24/7 (which everyone gets sick of very quickly) having a snack in your bag will save your life. Trust me on this one.” in ukie Times, a newspaper from UK game industry trade body Ukie. Apparently, Dr Jo Twist (@doctoe), CEO of Ukie is no greenhorn in German expos. Cantina’s food selection was truly limited with mentioned Bratwurst being the top choice. First piece smells delicious but few meals later, you would have enough for at least the next year. I haven’t notice any complaints about tea (with or without milk), though.

Best stall – Farming Simulator (in original Landwirtschafts-Simulator 2015) I mention stalls with indie games in next paragraphs because I find them a really pleasant surprise. As for the big games, Farming Simulator brought a real tractor, piles of straw and tree stumps. Again, pretty nice change of scenery for a video game, right? :)

Best surprise – indie games Indie games were presented in three different stalls. First one was Unity stall in the trade visitors area (hall 4). Unity staff was friendly and indie games can be played, indie developers were chatty and open to talk, discuss and connect with. At the same time, their games were a nice showcase of how many different genres and projects can be done in Unity. I guess a clear win-win for both Unity and indie developers. Second place was the Indie MEGABOOTH (hall 10.1) – being selected by GDC organizers to be part of Indie MEGABOOTH is a reward on its own. The mix of games was just fantastic. Why? Because each and every one of them had qualities that the rest of the gamescom’s AAA titles could (and should) by inspired by! The variety of the art styles, so many twists to the classical game mechanics, such diversity in genres and art (yes, I mention it twice on purpose). Third place to meet indies and play their games was Indie Arena (hall 09.1, – a small stall with 12 or so titles developed  in German speaking countries (DACH region). Yet another set of games with lots of potential and full of creative ideas well executed.

Biggest disappointment – no indie conversation from big players. Although big player and platform holders (Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony) claim their friendliness and openness to indies, this wasn’t really our impression from  the gamescom. Obviously, the focus was only to provide demos and showcase to the press. Or, perhaps, a different business has been talked in the trade visitors area. When asked for a possibility to develop for their platforms, emails were not answered, meetings cannot be booked. Gatekeeping at its finest. A great opportunity missed to meet and connect with European indies.

How you been to gamescom as well? Let’s see that have caught your attention the most. I am also very interested so hear your story from gamescom and see if could share some tips as well.

— Matej & team

Update 05.09.2014: As Philipp noticed, I had the hall numbers for Indie Arena and INDIE MEGABOOTH switched, so it’s corrected now ;) Thanks!