The video game fair Gamescom plans to hold a ‘hybrid event’ later this summer that combines personal and digital activities, despite the uncertainty surrounding the ongoing pandemic and the risk that the fair could become a “superspreader” event.
Like many big events where hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world fly to breathe the same air for days, Gamescom decided to cancel its 2020 show and instead hold a series of virtual glasses. This year, however, organizers want players and insiders in the industry to return to the show floor, albeit in fewer numbers.
“In the late summer, we aim to finally make a Gamescom event possible for gaming fans,” said Felix Falk, managing director of the German Games Industry Association, which is a co-organizer of Gamescom. Press release. “We are focusing on the superfans and testing in the field of the latest games this year.”
As proof of the safety of the event, organizers promote their compliance with so-called “# B-SAFE4business“Guidelines set out by Koelnmesse, the exhibition center in Cologne, Germany where Gamescom is usually held. According to Koelnmess, safety measures include mandatory face masks (except for seats to eat and drink), contact-free navigation through doors, reduced visitor numbers (so that participants can maintain at least 1.5 meters distance from each other at all times), and “adequate ventilation.”
A pitch deck the event indicates that it will take place between 23 and 29 August over five months. And while it is impossible to predict what the global COVID-19 situation will be at that point, the uncertainty is certainly not in favor of the organizers.
Just this week, German officials warned of an ‘exponential’ growth in infections, partly attributed to the spread of the new B.1.1.7 variant. And although Germany still intends to offer every citizen a vaccine against COVID-19 by summer, there were already unforeseen obstacles to this goal such as the recent suspension of the Oxford / AstraZeneca COVID vaccine.
Although Germany has the pandemic under control in August, the wisdom is to invite participants from all over the world to share air in one place, to say the least. It has been proven that such large gatherings can become a speaker. It is suspected that a single biotechnology conference in the US in the past year has led to several 300,000 new cases, for example. And even small events that test all participants led to new business.
However, Gamescom is not the only organization determined to return to ‘normal’ in 2021. The MWC mobile conference is also currently scheduled to continue in June, although many companies – including Sony, Nokia, Ericsson and Facebook – said they would not attend due to security concerns.