More than a quarter of a million attendees, thousands of exhibitors, world premieres for upcoming games, new hardware launches, tons of cosplay, merchandise, coffee, beer, and a whole lot of gamers. It can only be Gamescom.
As the biggest gaming event in the world, it’s easily going to be the best and most tiring week in my gaming calendar. So, to help you make the most of your time there, I decided to create my ultimate Gamescom survival guide.
From how to get into the venue (it’s harder than you think) to the best after parties and my go-to late-night snack, I’ve got a ton of Gamescom knowledge to share with you.
So, let’s dive in and get prepped.
It sounds obvious but make sure you choose the right entrance to enter the venue.
It’s a big venue so it will save you a lot of time knowing exactly which entrance you want your taxi to drop you off at. If you’re there for the B2B halls, the last thing you want is to get stuck in a queue with thousands of kids for the B2C area by accident.
There are four main entrances - North, East, West, South. Most of the B2B area is in the southwest of the building, so the South and West entrances are generally better. They also happen to be the entrances closest to the train station (Köln Messe/Deutz Station).
Once you’re in, set yourself some landmarks within the venue that are easy to spot. The event app has a very handy map that’s an absolute must for navigating all the halls.
You’ll be lucky if you do less than 20,000 steps a day so make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes and invest in some decent blister plasters.
Gamescom is massive! Last year I made the mistake of thinking I could schedule in 30-minute meetings back to back. I soon realized that it can take 5-10 minutes just to get between meetings and got the t-shirt that says, ‘never again’. It’s very tempting to pack your diary as much as possible but be realistic and give yourself more than enough time to make it to your next meeting.
Gamescom is a big event and there’s a huge amount going on both inside and outside the venue. Which is why it’s important to take a minute to yourself if you need it or, even better, schedule some downtime in your calendar. And when you do find yourself needing a breather, the best coffee in the venue is on us so pop by the servers.com booth Hall 2.2 C-041 for a complementary caffeine fix.
As with most gaming events, the daily afterparties are worth attending. You never know who you’re going to meet. If you’re lucky enough to be staying at The Marriot then you’ll be able to get into the hotel bar, which is a honey pot for Gamescom attendees. Otherwise, there’s a great German beer hall called Gaffel am Dom which is right in front of Cologne’s cathedral. In fact, the main nightlife in Cologne is centred around the cathedral and that’s where many Gamescom attendees hang out. The Corkonian Irish pub is another popular destination for attendees. If you’re exhibiting, don’t miss the Gamescom official event on the Thursday evening. It’s a must.
It’s fair to say that after walking 20,000 steps a day you’ll be pretty hungry. Luckily, I know a few good places to eat. The ASH (American Steak House) Koeln Messe City (located by the South entrance) is just around the corner from the venue and does everything from salads to burgers. It’s a great spot for business meetings over lunch. If the ASH is full, the nearby L’Osteria Köln Deutz is another good option.
This year I’m planning on trying out our head of gaming’s favorite spot, Oscar, for dinner. The restaurant isn’t affiliated with Gamescom so it’s great if you’re in need of a peaceful escape for an evening. And despite being inside a shopping centre Jarrod assures me that the food and cocktails are some of the best in Cologne.
This is where you can find out what all the big players in the B2C gaming industry are up to. Take part in tournaments, see some awesome cosplay outfits, win merch and meet content creators. The atmosphere is great so make sure you give yourself some time to have a good explore.
Top tip: If you have a ticket for the B2B area, it will also give you access to the B2C area. It’s a great place to pick up some souvenirs for the family.
If, like me, your main focus for meetings are decision makers within the B2B space then make sure you’re at the event on Wednesday and Thursday, as those are the days they tend to be there. If you’re there to play the newest games and take part in the cosplay events and e-sports tournaments, then Friday and Saturday will be the busiest days. There are some games that offer bookable sessions so if you have your eye on a few in particular, it’s worth checking out what’s available and booking in advance.
And don’t forget that devcom takes place on the Sunday to Tuesday and features a whole host of quality talks, panels and workshops for developers and publishers.
Scooters are a great way to get about the city, and to and from the venue. I recommend downloading the Bolt app to your phone as part of your Gamescom prep.
Top tip: Don’t get on a scooter at 4am when the party finally finishes. Go for the safer route and get a taxi.
Cologne in August is hot and sticky. But the Koelnmesse is air conditioned. So, bring a hoodie. Layers are your friend.
Try not to take a leaf out of my book and sign up for a charity bike ride when you’ve had too many drinks. This was a bright idea I had at last year’s Gamescom (despite not even owning a bike) and this year I’ll be suffering the consequences.
If you need a late-night snack or something to soak up a heavy night, make sure to get the McRib from McDonalds. It’s only available permanently on the menu in Germany (and Luxembourg). Trust me, it’s worth the pilgrimage.
Above all, have fun. There is a huge amount of energy and passion under one roof and it’s a great opportunity to really immerse yourself within all the different facets of the gaming world. Plus, it’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy beautiful Cologne.
If you’re attending this year’s Gamescom, we look forward to seeing you there.
Competitive CS:GO may be behind him but Charlie still challenges himself every day to solve gaming’s infrastructure problems.
When he’s not WoW raiding, you can find him on the golf course.