Gamescom 2021: everything you need to know

Gaming

Gamescom is back for 2021 and, as always, it’s shaping up to be one of the most significant events on the gaming calendar. Naturally, the show is going to look a little different this year due to Covid-19. Organizers had initially planned to make Gamescom 2021 a hybrid event with some in-person opportunities alongside virtual access, but the physical presence has since been dropped due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

Just like Gamescom 2020, this year’s show will be an all-digital affair, featuring an opening showcase alongside announcements from top publishers and developers. Organizers have also revealed that there will be some new features this year, including a community activity called Gamescom Epix alongside the return of Geoff Keighley’s Opening Night Live.

If you want to prepare for this year’s show, we’ve gathered all of the information we can, including when and where it is happening and what we might be able to expect from the exhibitors that have been revealed thus far. Read on for everything you need to know about Gamescom 2021. 

  • What is it? The world’s largest gaming event
  • When is it? August 25th to August 27th
  • Who is attending? 19 publishers are confirmed, including Xbox, EA and Ubisoft

What is Gamescom?

Gamescom

(Image credit: Gamescom)

Gamescom is the world’s largest video game event, and it takes place annually (usually in August). In 2019, the show saw 373,000 visitors, with hundreds of exhibitors showcasing their latest gaming, esports, and tech projects.

When it has a physical presence, Gamescom takes place in Cologne, Germany, with gaming fans flocking from all over the globe to try new games before their release and engage with community activities, like cosplay contests and esports competitions. It’s also a meeting point for the games industry’s retail, trade and media representatives. 

Usually, the industry’s most prominent publishers are involved, and we often see a lot of gaming news revealed during the show, whether that be new game reveals, release date announcements or trailer drops. 

When is Gamescom 2021?

Gamescom

(Image credit: Gamescom)

Every year, Gamescom takes place at the Koelnmesse exhibition centre in Cologne, Germany. But this year, there is no physical presence due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, Gamescom 2021 will be all-digital and take place entirely online. 

Gamescom starts with Opening Night Live on August 25, a showcase event hosted by Geoff Keighley. A lot like the conferences seen at E3, this will likely be jam-packed with reveals and gaming news. 

The main Gamescom show will roll out across three days, from August 25 to August 27. The developer conference, Devcom, will precede it, starting on August 23 for its content focus days and then switching to business focus days from August 25 to August 28.

New for 2021, there will also be a “joint quest journey” called Gamescom Epix. Details are slim for now, but it appears that fans will be able to engage with it prior to the launch of the event, and it will involve completing interactive quests and snagging prizes. This year’s E3 offered something similar with its online portal. 

Attendees and predictions

At the time of writing, 19 publishers are confirmed to be attending Gamescom 2021. Beyond the list below, there will also be 80 indie titles showcased via virtual booths during the event. 

Some significant publishers like Sony and Nintendo are currently missing, but we’re yet to fully confirm that they will not feature any games during the event. Last year, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart appeared during Opening Night Live, so who knows. We may see a State of Play from Sony or a Nintendo Direct from Nintendo close to the event to see what they have coming up away from the show itself.

  • 505 Games
  • Activision
  • Aerosoft
  • Assemble Entertainment
  • Astragon Entertainment
  • BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment
  • Bethesda Softworks
  • Electronic Arts
  • GAMEVIL COM2US Europe
  • Headup
  • Indie Arena Booth
  • Koch Media
  • NExT Studios (Tencent Games)
  • SEGA Europe
  • Team17
  • Thunderful Games
  • Ubisoft
  • Wargaming
  • Xbox

Xbox and Bethesda

An astronaut from the game Starfield.

(Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios)

Psychonauts 2 will be out by the time Gamescom 2021 rolls around, so we have to look a little further into the future to figure out what Xbox may want to show during this year’s event.  

Sable is landing in September, so we may see a new trailer for that, but the big news could easily center around Xbox’s two big games coming later this year: Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite. We don’t have a firm release date for the next Halo game, so it would make sense to pin that down soon. 

Games like STALKER 2, Starfield and Arkane’s Redfall are currently set to be launching in 2022, so Xbox may want to tease next year’s games alongside what’s coming in the rest of 2021 too. Fans are also waiting for updates on games like Fable, Avowed, Perfect Dark and more, so the ball is really in Microsoft’s court.

Electronic Arts

Battlefield 2042

(Image credit: EA DICE)

Like Xbox, Electronic Arts is also sitting on several big projects that could be alluded to during Gamescom 2021. There are faraway heavy hitters like Skate 4, Dragon Age 4, Dead Space Remake and the next Mass Effect project, but EA also has a few big games still to come this year.

Battlefield 2042 and FIFA 22 are out in October so that we could see some news there, alongside some updates for the publisher’s service games like Knockout City and Apex Legends. And who knows, we may hear about the “brand-new single-player adventure” Respawn is reportedly working on.

Ubisoft

Far Cry 6

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Ubisoft has a few games coming out close to the show, like Far Cry 6, Riders Republic and Just Dance 2022, so it’d be reasonable to expect some updates there, but the publisher also has a few interesting irons in the fire. 

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake and Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora are currently slated to launch in 2022, so Ubisoft may want to tease towards its future. There’s also the untitled Star Wars Project that The Division’s Massive Entertainment is squirreling away on.

Alongside potential game reveals, we’ll likely see some updates regarding Ubisoft’s ongoing service games like Tom Clancy’s XDefiant and Rainbow Six Siege too.

Bandai Namco

Elden Ring

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Ohhhhhh…. Elden Ring! All eyes are on Bandai Namco at this year’s Gamescom as, beyond The Game Awards later this year, there aren’t that many huge opportunities to show off From Software’s next game. Elden Ring is coming in January 2022, so we may well see something from the Soulsborne x George R. R. Martin collaboration during Gamescom 2021.

Beyond one of the most hotly anticipated games of 2022, Bandai Namco also has a few games coming later this year, like the JRPG Tales of Arise in September and The Dark Pictures: House of Ashes in October. Digimon Survive is also on the horizon too — the game is currently without a firm release date but is slated to land in 2021, so we may see some updates there.

Activision 

Diablo 4

(Image credit: Blizzard)

We’re yet to hear about Call of Duty 2021, so this year’s Gamescom may be the perfect opportunity to reveal that to the public. Last year’s entry Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War was explored as part of Gamescom 2020’s Opening Night Live, so we may see something similar from the publisher this year. Updates to the battle royale game Call of Duty Warzone may also arrive in tandem, as Activision seems keen to tie all of the games together through its free-to-play service title. 

We learned last year that Activision shuffled around Crash Bandicoot 4 and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 developers Toys for Bob and Vicarious Visions to work on other projects, but who knows what they may have up their sleeve for this year’s show. It’s not clear how much of a presence Blizzard will have at Gamescom 2021, but with Diablo 2: Resurrected coming in September of this year, they may want to drop a new trailer or talk about potential DLC for some of Blizzard’s ongoing service titles. Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2 are still very much on the horizon.

What is Opening Night Live?

Opening Night Live

(Image credit: Gamescom)

As of 2019, Gamescom has had its own gaming news conference called Opening Night Live, which takes place during the event’s opening night.  Hosted by Geoff Keighley, Opening Night Live is streamed online globally, and it’s back for 2021, kicking off on August 25th. 

Opening Night Live will no doubt introduce us to the most significant chunks of gaming news that this year’s Gamescom has to offer. It’d be wise to expect trailers, release date announcements, interviews and maybe some new game reveals during the evening showcase.

What happened at Gamescom 2020?

Activision

(Image credit: Activision)

Gamescom 2020 played host to several big reveals. During Opening Night Live, we got our first proper glimpse at Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War and a concept art teaser for Bioware’s Dragon Age 4. 

We also received news about Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time and Star Wars Squadrons ahead of their launch. The release date for World of Warcraft: Shadowlands was also revealed during the show before it wrapped up with a lengthy gameplay trailer from Insomniac Games’ Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart

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