Can an event as big as Gamescom really be climate friendly?

Gamescom 2022 was announced earlier this month, and much of the news is as you’d expect. The show will return to Cologne’s Koelnmesse in August, but it will also be a hybrid event with online elements, and organizers hope to attract businesses and consumers from around the world.

However, additional news this year is that Gamescom also aims to reduce and offset its impact on the environment.

Gaming conventions and trade shows are energy-intensive affairs; thousands of demo stations run most of the day for a full week, hundreds of thousands of people travel around Cologne to and from the site, and international footfall means people arrive in Germany from all corners of the globe. With such a setup, can an event like Gamescom really be “climate friendly”, as the organizers claim?

“Almost everything everyone does can be more climate-friendly, and must be soon,” said Felix Falk, co-organizer and chief executive of German trade body Game. “Not everything you can do with an event like Gamescom is 100% but you have to start.

Felix Falk, Gamescom

“We have to start in the different areas of everyone who is part of it: us, visitors, exhibitors and partners. That is why we have created this global concept, to involve everyone in the question: ‘How can I contribute to a more event friendly climate? That’s a question that everyone should have in mind… and it’s a question for years to come, so we hope to get better and better.”

Gamescom’s response, at least in 2022, is to further promote the free public transport tickets it offers for the week of the show, encourage exhibitor donations to certified climate offset projects based on the size of their exhibition stand and to continue sales of the optional “green ticket”, which raises funds for the Gamescom forest reforestation project – a venture that currently covers almost 20,000 square meters of the German countryside.

It’s a good start, but just having these options in place doesn’t necessarily mean Gamescom will be climate-friendly. The lounge has offered free public transportation for several years, but many visitors still prefer the convenience of an Uber to waiting for a tram or bus. Industry visitors with busy meeting schedules are perhaps the most susceptible to this.

Nevertheless, Falk remains optimistic: “A lot of people are happy to participate if you show them an easy way to do so. Of course there will be people who might not contribute, but the fact that we use our strong position as l ‘one of the main events to show that we are committed to this area and that we think it is important for us and for events is also a good message.

“The ecosystem around Gamescom is huge, but if you start from the heart, there’s a great opportunity to inspire others and get them thinking about how they can contribute. This is the first and very important step, but there are many more steps to follow Let’s see how many people join us – feedback from the industry is very good so far The Playing 4 The Planet Alliance, of which we are also members , also shows how important it is for the gaming industry.”

Falk also hopes it will inspire wider changes that go beyond a single week in Cologne. The video game industry is emerging from a two-year period where its impact on the environment – at least at the corporate level – has been minimized, with video conferencing replacing the previous behavior of professionals of traveling around the world for various conferences , meetings and workshop visits. Additionally, the inability to show upcoming games and the latest consoles to consumers at game expos has reduced the amount of energy used to bring new releases to market.

“We are confident that Gamescom will once again be the biggest gaming event in the world, but not on the scale of 2019”

“If you’re doing business, you need to look at all areas related to doing business, whether it’s diversity or environmental issues and so on,” Falk adds. “The importance is clear; the question is how fast do you go and do you want to lead or follow. Given that Gamescom is the biggest games event in the world, we are in a position where we have to ask ourselves areas in which we can also be at the forefront.”

2022 will mark the first time Gamescom has been held in person since 2019, when a record 370,000 people attended. As COVID restrictions eased last year, there were plans to hold a hybrid event with limited attendance, but these quickly reverted to a digital-only event. This year, Falk and his team are confident that the physical event will return – if only because Koelnmesse has already held several even bigger events in recent months – although there will still be limited attendance, the exact limit to be confirmed closer to the time.

“We are confident that Gamescom will once again be the biggest gaming event in the world, but not on the scale of 2019,” Falk said. “We are not going to go for the next record, we will limit some ticket sales, but the final number depends on the months to come and the flexibility we have.

“The challenge this year is to combine the two aspects: what we have learned on the digital side and what we have extended and developed in recent years by having everything in place. We have a lot of people who have never been to a store physical. Gamescom, but have partnered with us for the last couple of years. We have the opportunity for purely digital participation at Gamescom this year, but of course the heart of what’s going on is still tied to a on-site activity.”

He gives the example of Opening Night Live, which will be held in the newly built Hall 1. This will recapture the community feeling and atmosphere of a live show, but will also generate discussion as it is broadcast live around the world. Last year, Opening Night Live drew 5.8 million viewers, making it a mainstay of Gamescom’s digital schedule (which drew 13 million total viewers), and Falk hopes to build on that.

Opening Night Live will return, this time with a live audience, to the new Hall 1 of Koelnmesse

Opening Night Live will return, this time with a live audience, to the new Hall 1 of Koelnmesse

This particular element of the event also presents an opportunity for Gamescom. Although physically larger, both in terms of location and attendance, the German show was still overshadowed by the noise made by E3 in Los Angeles two months prior. Despite Gamescom, GDC and various other industry conferences returning to their on-premises structures in 2022, the ESA has already confirmed that E3 2022 will be a digital-only affair, suggesting a return to mixing last year shows adjacent to E3 and E3. .

Falk hopes the cohesiveness of Gamescom will elevate the show higher than ever this year: “As Gamescom, we’re able to build the scene and bring everything together in a way that’s much more enjoyable than what’s happening at home. ‘E3. So many people are doing their own things under the umbrella of E3, but E3 itself isn’t really capable of building the scene.

“’How can I contribute to a more climate-friendly event?’ It’s a question everyone should have in mind…and it’s a question for years to come.”

“Gamescom is able to do that; it’s a lot easier for us to make everything available to everyone, to showcase everything in our shows and our schedule, both on the digital hub and on location. There’s so much more to integration, and it’s much better for the community to experience this festival [in one place].”

There will always be some level of uncertainty among potential Gamescom attendees, especially among the industry. While GDC did indeed return to the streets of San Francisco last week, some businesses and individuals were reluctant to travel for it — a problem facing any event planner at the start of this post-pandemic journey to normality.

For many, Gamescom will almost certainly be the biggest event they’ve attended in three years. It might even be expected to represent a return to the level of showcase and spectacle the industry invested in three years ago, but Falk suggests adding caution to such optimism.

“There is no ‘back to 2019’,” he says. “There’s a stronger digital element now. Also, it’s not about looking back but looking forward as the industry evolves. Over the last couple of years we’ve seen a lot of mergers between companies, and also new players who could come to Gamescom: for the first digital Gamescom, 30% of the players were new and had never participated in Gamescom before.

“We’re even seeing more and more interest from non-endemic companies, companies that want to work with game companies, and they’ll have a lot more of a presence at Gamescom as well.”

Exhibitors will be encouraged to donate to certified climate offset projects based on the size of their exhibit booth

Exhibitors will be encouraged to donate to certified climate offset projects based on the size of their exhibit booth

Falk reiterates that COVID is “not going away” and is something the industry and the world must learn to live with — depending on how badly it is spreading at any given time, of course. Even so, he believes that in August much of the industry will be ready for a week in Cologne.

“Our surveys of our community indicate that people want Gamescom to come back, that they will come even if there are restrictions and safety measures in place. The industry also says that they want to participate in Gamescom So what we can do is prepare measures that we will have in place no matter what happens with COVID.”

He adds that organizers are working “in close cooperation with local authorities” and monitoring the progress of efforts against the disease, while building on measures such as improved admissions management, digital management of queues waiting areas and wider aisles.

After speaking to Falk, GDC attendees reported via social media that they had tested positive for COVID and believed they had caught the disease during the conference. When we asked for further comment on how Gamescom will protect attendees, Falk reiterated that Koelnmesse had already held a number of larger events without incident and that Gamescom would adopt similar measures, updated accordingly. of the situation in August. Falk is therefore convinced that the concept will allow a particularly high level of security for Gamescom visitors.

“Seeing many events return with thousands of people hanging out in person, we are very confident that in five months time – and with the right measures in place – we have no doubt that we will have the great Gamescom atmosphere that we want to provide. “

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