Gamescom, the world’s biggest video gaming event which attracted 320,000 visitors last year, is branching out into tabletop gaming with a dedicated area at the 2024 show.
The move builds on the popularity of Ravensburger’s booth for the Disney Lorcana card game at Gamescom in August this year, which attracted huge crowds keen to pick up exclusive cards and get a first look at the game.
Gamescom director Tim Endres told BoardGameWire that although the new Cards & Boards area was not directly inspired by Lorcana’s success, “the way visitors flocked to the Disney Lorcana booth confirmed our current strategy”.
He said, “Video games are and always have been a unifying phenomenon for many pop culture communities.
“For example, many video game fans enjoy tabletop and boardgames as well as trading card games. Furthermore, video games inspire lots of other pop culture products and are inspired by those the other way around – I’m talking TV series, anime and manga, for example.
“Thus, it is only logical to broaden the spectrum of what is shown and can be experienced at the world’s biggest games event.”
He added, “We cannot forget that there are no clear borders between videogames and tabletop games after all.
“For example, Dorfromantik did not only win Spiel des Jahres 2023 but was originally a videogame in the first place.
“There are many tabletop games that originate from video games nowadays, or TCGs that [originate] from anime shows like Pokémon or One Piece.”
Gamescom, which is held in Cologne, hopes to draw significant international interest for the new tabletop zone – after all, more than three-quarters of its roughly 1,200 exhibitors in 2023 were from outside of Germany.
The proximity of Essen Spiel, the world’s biggest board game fair, at the start of October presents a potential problem for Gamescom, however – if publishers are only able to choose one or the other as part of their annual convention budget, how many would choose not to hit Essen?
Endres said, “Essen’s SPIEL is an amazing event and to see so many tabletop and TCG fans in one place is amazing.
“Though, gamescom is a great place to reach thousands of content creators, journalists, and hundreds of thousands of fans.
“It is a place to get to know a new community, to extend the target group and level up one’s marketing mix.
“Fans visiting our event are not just within, but also beyond the usual target group for boardgames – yet they are highly interested in their products as we can see in our customer survey.
“That is also why we don’t see ourselves to be in direct competition to this event, but we rather symbolize another great opportunity for companies to reach new and additional fans, that may not attend other events that primarily focus on tabletop games.”
Endres would not be drawn on which publishers have already signed up for Cards & Boards for 2024, but said the first reactions to the announcement were “very positive”.