Gamescom: 5 Things Learned at Europe's Answer to E3

Gamescom 2015

'Mad Max' could break the film-to-video-game curse, but Sony's absence spells trouble for Europe's biggest video game conference.

Gamescom, Europe's answer to Los Angeles' E3 games conference, is still in full swing, with hundreds of thousands of gamers packing the trade fair grounds in Cologne, Germany. Gamescom runs until Sunday, Aug. 9, but with all the corporate presentations out of the way, and gameplay reviews starting to pour in, it's time to take stock of the lessons we learned from this year's event.

1. Sony's No-Show Is a Worrying Sign

Sony opted out of an official press conference in Cologne this year, instead preferring to wait until Paris Game Week in late October. Sony reportedly thinks Gamescom is too close to E3, coming just two months after the L.A. event. This could be a one-off, with Sony returning in force in 2016, but observers point to the decline of the Tokyo Games Show, which began when big names — including Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo — started pulling out. 

2. With Reboots and Sequel En Masse, the Games Industry Is Copying Hollywood at Its Worst

With the exception of some innovative tech and a handful of smaller games, there was very little truly new and surprising on show in Cologne this year. Instead, much like a studio summer movie slate, we were subjected to a seemingly endless stream of sequels and reboots, from Doom 4 to Halo 5, from Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 to FIFA 16.

Judging by the lineups outside the Gamescom demo booths, gamers aren't yet suffering from sequel fatigue. But the raves that followed Electronic Arts' presentation of Unravel, a delightful puzzle game from Sweden's Coldwood Interactive, featuring a hero made entirely out of yarn, suggests there is an appetite for something beyond the action, strategy and sports titles that dominated Gamescom this year.

3. Mad Max Could Break the Film-to-Game Curse

The world of video games is strewn with the remnants of horrible film adaptations, but Mad Max, which WB Games unveiled in an improved playable demo at Gamescom, might just break that trend. With a few exceptions, the game is getting raves ahead of its Sept. 1 release.

4. Virtual Reality Is the Next Big Thing (Whether We Want It or Not)

VR Goggles were the big tech push at E3, and at Gamescom there's was a further ratcheting up of the coming virtual reality wars. With more than 300,000 visitors expected over the five days of Gamescom, VR companies have the perfect testing ground for their high-tech headsets. Straw polls of attending gamers put the VR tech designed by Facebook-owned Oculus Rift leading the pack ahead of competitors such as Sony's Project Morpheus and HTC Vive, but issues including pricing and developer acceptance will ultimately determine who will own this potentially massive market. 

5.Cosplay Could Be the Key to Gamescom's Survival

Gamescom has smartly bet on the dress-up cosplay fans to add variety and spice to the conference as well as giving the gaming fair a carnival-like atmosphere. For the first time, Gamescom dedicated an entire — packed — hall for fan merchandising and has expanded its program of concerts and competitions targeting the cosplay community. It seems to be working: Gamescom 2015 looks on track to set another all-time attendance record. 

Twitter: @sroxborough