The Leipzig Games Convention of old died a cold hard death last year, by the hands of some of the biggest publishers in the world (who instead created GamesCom, in Cologne). But Leipzig didn’t want to give up that easily, and resurrected it as Games Convention Online. It was supposed to be a convention aimed towards the growing online market, searching for a niché trying to survive the loss of support from so many in the industry.
The world’s first GCO ended last saturday, and I was there. So what can be said about this new beast?
1. It’s far smaller than GC last year, as expected. GC 2008 had 203 000 visitors, while GCO 2009 had 43 000. Now, that’s by no means a small convention, even though it had less than a quarter of the visitors of last year. But it also has to be said that while there were quite a lot of visitors, few of them were professionals who attended the trade part of the convention. Some of the lectures had no more than 10 attendees.
2. The conference was confused about its own focus. The “online” part wasn’t sure if it refered to (massively) multiplayer games, digital distribution or simply games played on websites. Those are 3 very different topics, and (despite all requiring a internet connection) aren’t connected in the way the conference pretended them to be.
3. None of the big (western) publishers were there. We had a lot of Korean publishers showing off their games, but the differences between eastern and western gaming meant that it was unimpressive and not very interesting.
4. It was still worth the visit. While there were quite a few tired lectures, some of them were really interesting. I learned a few new things and got to know some cool people. All in all, I’m glad I went.