"Time to stop the game session". It was on these words, uttered by an exhausted host in front of a welcoming crowd, that the Paris Games Week ended on Tuesday night. SELL (which stands for Syndicat des Éditeurs de Logiciel de Loisir), the French video game trade association organises this annual event, and this year the organisation was able to celebrate some positive numbers surrounding this 9th edition of the event.
There were nearly 316,000 visitors in attendance at the Porte de Versailles this year, a notable increase over the 304,000 who attended last year. Paris Games Week is still a must-attend event and it's gaining popularity and prominence with each subsequent edition. The 188 exhibitors came to France from all over the world had to share the 80,000 m² space, and between the competitions, big screens, and the meetings full of industry professionals, the video game demo stations were far from being the only attraction at the show. SELL President Julie Chalmette had this to say about the event:
"This passion for Paris Games Week is a reflection of the tremendous dynamism of an entire sector driven by talented people who innovate and renew themselves constantly, and by communities of passionate people ever more engaged. We are proud to have succeeded all together this challenge: celebrating in good humour and conviviality the video game culture by gathering for five days all those who make the heart of video games beat."
One example of this cultural celebration came via music, a fundamental part of the modern big budget video game. The instruments of the Yellow Socks Orchestra resonated around the hall of the Dôme de Paris on October 27. This tribute to video game music by Tommy Tallarico, producer and host of the show, shows again the diversity of events that PGW has to offer.
This is one of the last events of the year that brings together gamers, and thus the Paris Games Week suffers from this particularly dense period in terms of game releases. Although it takes place in the middle of Halloween, the exhibition already feels a lot like Xmas.
Thus, the vast majority of games presented were hot-off-the-press fresh releases (some moreso than others). Assassin's Creed Odyssey was there with some new content and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 was there so people could try out its various multiplayer modes. These published titles shared the stage with games expected by the end of the year, such as Battlefield V or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Only a few new titles planned for 2019 were present. Square Enix introduced the Hercules and Toy Story worlds from the future Kingdom Hearts 3 (that one's out on January 29). The simple and accessible (and sometimes spectacular) gameplay has yet to convince us though; the lack of precision has us puzzled and the special powers are not as sensational as we expected them to be. The final game probably has unexpected features, so the jury's still out on KHIII. On the other hand, we thought that the sublime Ori and the Will of the Wisps was a delight. Beyond its magical graphics and stunning animations, the new combat system and new abilities give Moon Studio's sequel a fresh and intriguing dynamic. We can't wait to find out more.
We'd also like to talk about the remake of Resident Evil 2 and the new Devil May Cry, which we were able to play for a few moments. For the former, Claire and Leon's design prevented us from fully immersing ourselves in Capcom's renewed horror experience. It may be personal taste, but the fact that they no longer look like the characters who bewitched us on the original PlayStation felt like a letdown. Beyond that, it seems to fulfil its promise of staying true to the original gameplay experience while still offering some more modern features. This is obviously one of the games we'll be throwing ourselves at comes January 2019, a couple of months before playing as Dante once again in March. Our time with the long-awaited DMC 5 was, generally speaking, rather satisfying, but we weren't completely dazzled by it either. It boasts no frills energetic gameplay that should satisfy most fans of the saga. We played the same demo as our colleague Lisa did during Gamescom (you can read more about that here). In fact, this was true for most of the games on display in Paris and it's the reason why you won't see more in-depth previews from the event.
The French games, for their part, had a stand that was dedicated entirely to them, a welcome idea for the show and a nice way to highlight local talent. High-profile games such as the excellent Life is Strange 2 by Dontnod (the first episode of which was released on September 27) were in attendance, as was Call of Cthulu, which was recently published by Focus Interactive and developed by Cyanide Studio (which we already previewed on Gamereactor).
Zerator, the famous streamer, was also present to show off his game Dwarf (or dWARf as the title has been styled), a title which has been in development for two and a half years - a risky bet because for the first time he was confronted with an audience that doesn't necessarily know him. The competitive game had us convinced though, and we thought it was pretty fun (a good thing because it should be available in January 2019). As for 11-11: The Memories Retold, we got another chance to look at a game that tells a war story using an innovative visual style designed to mimic the way we remember things.
Esports and Influencers
Far from the demo stations, over in the esports section in Hall 3, ESWC organised competitions for Quake Champions, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, FIFA 19, and even Clash Royale. As for Ubisoft, they had competitions for Rainbow Six: Siege, but also the Trackmania Pro League and the Just Dance World Cup 2019 were in attendance. Each of these competitions involves top players and brings a professional feel to the overall event, and we thought it was the perfect opportunity to discover the world of esports and the variety of games that people compete in.
YouTube and Twitch were also well represented at PGW. No less than 1011 accreditations were granted to influencers this year, and it wasn't uncommon to see them standing around at the corner of a booth or near a display, ready to chat with their fans and pose for selfies. This closeness gave the show a warmth well-suited to the community it represents.
Publishers, developers, schools, cosplayers and gamers all came together to celebrate our shared passion. Paris Games Week might not be a French version of E3, filled with conferences and world premieres, but instead, it's a family-friendly and accessible event that brings together all types of people and which celebrates the whole medium of gaming. The organisers' ambition is for PGW to be a place to share and learn more about the games we enjoy in an event that's aimed at both amateurs and newcomers as well as the more seasoned among us. Mission accomplished yet again.