Here's an interesting plot twist: Despite the unprecedented success of the 2008 Games Convention in Leipzig and plans to expand the show to North America, Germany's videogame publishing association says the show is over, declaring Gamescom in Cologne the big industry event for 2009.
The Leipzig Games Convention, which has grown into the premier European videogame trade show since its launch in 2002, attracted 203,000 visitors this year, along with 547 exhibitors and 3800 journalists from 48 different countries, leading Leipziger Messe GmbH CEO Wolfgang Marzin to declare, "The GC - Games Convention will be back in Leipzig again in 2009."
However, the Bundesverband Interaktive Unterhaltungssoftware (BIU), the industry association representing videogame publishers in Germany, had previously announced plans to withdraw its support for the Leipzig show in favor of a new event, Gamescom, to be held in Cologne, and while Marzin may have been hoping that the tremendous success of Games Convention would pressure the group into a change of plans, the BIU is apparently sticking to its guns.
"It was to be expected that the Leipzig trade fair would try to keep the topic in its 2009 program as well by announcing its date," said Oliver Kuhrt, managing director of Koelnmesse, organizer of GamesCOM. "But they will have to do it without the industry for the most part. The lead trade fair will take place in Cologne in 2009 and beyond."
"From Leipzig we are bringing the clear message that the games industry will be exhibiting in 2009 in Cologne at Gamescom," he continued. "We have met with broad approval, and the industry is looking forward to gathering in Cologne. Whatever happens in Germany in 2009 outside of Cologne cannot claim to represent this sector."
Sudden, major changes to a hugely successful videogame trade show for no obvious reasons? Sounds vaguely familiar, and given the great sucking sound that accompanied the gutting of E3 in 2007, it's surprising that the BIU would follow a similar path just as it's emerging as the true successor to the spirit of that show. Whether or not the industry is looking forward to Cologne, what it's almost certainly not looking forward to is another schism in one of its most popular and visible industry events. Hopefully the two sides can reach a compromise before things get ugly; and if not, well, we'll always have Tokyo.
Organizers for the Leipzing Games Convention said the 2009 show would take place August 19-23, while Gamescom is scheduled for September 9-13.