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Road to Gamescom 2012

Next week marks the start of Europe's most important gaming event - Gamescom - and we're taking a closer look at what's going on.

Back in June there was a report in German tabloid Bild that this would be the last Gamescom - at least held in the city of Cologne. How can it be that the world's biggest games show is not a commercial success for the organisers? And with both Microsoft and Nintendo not in attendance this year, will this last year end up being a massive disappointment?

Gamescom was first held in 2009 as the German trade organisation (BIU) decided to part ways with Leipzig and Games Convention. Cologne, sounded like a better option, given its more central location in Europe and better communications and accomodations. It was the perfect location to cement the status of the annual German gaming event as Europe's biggest and an unmisable stop on the international gaming calendar.

Having first visited Leipzig and Games Convention back in 2006, a lot has changed - from what was clearly a German event with some international visitors to what is more of an international event albeit with a lot of German flavour. Some major publishers have opted to make major announcements during the show and this year won't be any different. We're far removed from the weird press conferences held on the showfloor in Leipzig by German brand managers in German, with absolutely no trace of any interesting tidbits for the international press unfortunate enough to get trapped inside of the booth.

This year's event at Kölner Messe will be bigger than ever, perhaps a bit surprising given that Nintendo, Microsoft, and THQ (they are showing off Company of Heroes 2 over at their German distributor Koch Media, but it's almost like they're not there) - are missing from this year's list of exhibitors. Apart from the four public halls and the two business halls there will also be an "entertainment area" and the games festival located in the actual city of Cologne will be expanded. What will then fill the large gaping holes where Microsoft and Nintendo used to have their stands? It's hard to say, but expect larger representations from the mobile, online and PC segments, the e-sport area was incredibly crowded last year so they can do with a bit more space as well. It's difficult to tell how this will effect the general opinion of visitors coming to the show, but from casual fans I'm sure it will be very disheartening to lose out on seeing first party Nintendo and Microsoft titles, even if Blizzard probably have far more pull on the average German youngster in attendance than the afore mentioned companies.

The organiser boasts 600 exhibitors and 140,000 square metres of exhibits (new records), but gamers and games journalists are looking for quality at a show like this and in this regard we have yet to see if Gamescom 2012 delivers.

Activision's Walking Dead game will be shown to press during Gamescom.
Crytek's Crysis 3 is one of the bigger German titles on display in Cologne.

Compared to last year a few more publishers to hold their own press events before the doors open to Kölner Messe. Activision have invited a horde of press to their Call of Duty: Black Ops II multiplayer event on Monday (13/08), while the next day will see press conferences held by the likes of Capcom, EA, and Sony. There is also an event for Hitman: Absolution on Tuesday, and on Wednesday Ubisoft have lined up a press conference where their free-to-play strategy will be outlined. We can expect new game announcements from Capcom, EA, and Sony, but other publishers like Warner Bros., NCsoft, Deep Silver, Focus Home Interactive and Paradox Interactive will also be making announcement at the time of the show.