Gamescom is one of the largest fan events for gaming on the planet. Each year, more than 370,000 people visit the expo in the German city of Cologne. This dwarfs American events like E3 and PAX, which attract 50,000-to-70,000 people.
The German government has announced plans to prohibit large events through the end of August. This comes in addition to its personal lockdown, which it extended through May 3 earlier today. Chancellor Angela Merkel and local governors want to prevent COVID-19 from spreading at sporting events, concerts, and other festivals through the summer. These limitations should also cause Gamescom organizers to officially cancel or delay the massive gaming event.
Till few days ago, the Gamescom group was still planning to hold the gathering for August 25 through August 29. However, Gamescom 2020 won’t be happening now, at least not in its traditional form. In response to the mandate, the Gamescom team has put out an official statement saying that it will “under no circumstances” move forward with the physical show but says that it’s planning a replacement digital event. It looked likely that Gamescom 2020 would be affected by Covid-19. After all, E3 2020 has already been cancelled and Microsoft is transitioning to “digital experiences” in the run-up to the Xbox Series X launch.
“It’s official: unfortunately, gamescom will under no circumstances take place on site in Cologne this year. Just like many of you, we are disappointed, because, as the gamescom team, we have been working on a wonderful gamescom 2020 for months, just like the many exhibitors. However, it is also quite clear to us that, in the face of the corona pandemic, we must stand united.”
The organizer went onto confirm that Gamescom 2020 will now be a fully digital event, and that it is “working at full speed” to accomplish this massive pivot. All tickets that were purchased for the original event will be refunded in full as well.
It seems the same August window will be used for this online event also, with the organizer asking fans to “look forward to how we will celebrate the best games and gamescom together with you and millions of gamers worldwide at the end of August”. Geoff Keighley also took to Twitter to confirm that the Gamescom: Opening Night Live stream will kick off on August 24.
A major gaming festival due to take place in Singapore in October will proceed despite the cancellation of its main event in Germany and expectations that the coronavirus outbreak will last for more months.
The organiser Koelnmesse said on Friday (April 17) that staging the inaugural Gamescom Asia, which is expected to attract tens of thousands of fans, is still on track.
Managing director Mathias Kuepper told The Straits Times: “In all aspects, planning for the event is still going ahead but we are assessing the situation in Singapore and the surrounding region very closely.
“Whether or not we are confident that the global numbers for Covid-19 will tail off by then, we leave that to the projections of the health authorities and will do our part to follow the Singapore Government’s advisories on large-scale events.”
Singapore’s circuit breaker measures have banned all major gatherings, forcing events like concerts, theatre productions and festivals to be cancelled or postponed. The curbs are due to end on May 4 but may be extended.