Gamescom 2023: Not the year of anything?

Aug 31, 2023

Another year, another hot Gamescom 2023 in Cologne. Everyone has their personal event-tips and mine is ‘you must ALWAYS click the “air conditioning” checkbox when booking your Gamescom room’, as like my home of Texas there is no alternative in Cologne in August. 

If I’m honest I’ve struggled with my key takeaways a little this year. Big trade events always tend to have a theme – official or otherwise.  Last year the dreaded M word consumed the exhibition halls in Cologne. But this year the stand-out buzzword was much less obvious, and my overall feeling was Gamescom 2023 was a fantastic showcase of innovation and change; with a few notable absences (see below).

Even more than previous years, there was a surge in indie game developers, VR games, and mobile gaming. Previously often dominated by big publishers’ brands, this year’s event was a playground for smaller developers showcasing their games, immersive VR experiences and innovative ideas. 

When it comes to games monetization, this year, the spotlight was definitely shining on the rise of hybrid monetization strategies, a trend that started in mobile gaming and is redefining the games industry’s financial landscape. 

Developers are no longer relying solely on a single monetization method, whether premium purchase, in-app purchases or ads. Instead, they are combining various monetization strategies to maximize revenue while enhancing the player experience. The exploration of alternative payment channels outside the behemoths of the two app stores was also great to see.

This shift is happening across PC, console and mobile, and is an indication that the games industry is evolving to create more sustainable and user-friendly revenue models. 


Now as far as what was missing this year:

  • AR games. I was especially hoping to see some content showcasing Apple’s Vision Pro platform. I’m sure it was somewhere behind closed doors in the usual Apple way, but this is a big tech trend you would have expected to see much more of.
  • Given all the noise in the mobile games world around privacy and lack of addressability (“The IDFApocalypse”), it continues to disappoint me that the broader games industry hasn’t yet embraced a privacy-first view of gaming. I suspect we’ll hear more about that in the coming year. 
  • Decent swag! I can usually count on Gamescom to furnish my daughters with their annual supply of t-shirts and notebooks. 2023 = #totalfail 

I’m actually OK with Gamescom 2023 not having a standout theme. For me 2023  celebrates how far the industry has come in terms of diversity of the broader ecosystem and remains THE show for meetings, partnerships and networking, old friends and new. 

Kristan Rivers

CEO amd Co-founder, AdInMo


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