Singapore will play host to the first Asian edition of gamescom, the world's largest gaming festival. Planned to happen from October 15 to 18 in 2020, the event will consist of a two-day industry gaming conference, as well as a three-day trade and public exhibition - including esports events, a showcase of emerging technologies in video games, and gaming workshops, meet-and-greet sessions and cosplay.
Gamescom has been held in Cologne, Germany, yearly since 2009. Sponsored by game, the Association for the German Games Industry, it is the industry's largest event measured by exhibition space and number of visitors, with 370,000 visitors and 1,037 exhibitors from 56 countries attending the show last year.
During the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and gamescom organiser Koelnmesse, Keith Tan, chief executive of STB, said, "Apart from adding vibrancy to our events calendar, we aim for gamescom asia to position Singapore as the natural base for the development and commercialisation of digital and gaming content, which in turn will support our digital media industry."
The event, which is slated to happen at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, is expected to attract over 30,000 enthusiasts and gaming industry professionals.
This is not the first gaming convention of its kind to happen in Singapore.
Before the announcement of gamescom's arrival, there was GameStart Asia, which has been happening in Singapore annually since 2014. The 2018 edition of the show, for example, saw more than 20,000 visitors over the course of two days. The inclusion of gamescom on Singapore's event calendar is testament to the rising popularity of gaming in the region.
The local government, too, has taken notice of the gaming industry. On May 25, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted his experience at a local community centre, where he learnt the basics of Dota2, a multiplayer online battle arena video game. The special class was organised by the Singapore Cybersports & Online Gaming Association's Esports Academy, and the Prime Minister's very public endorsement further proves that esports is a thing under the government's radar.
With that said, Singapore still has some ways to go when compared to its Asian neighbours. The Tokyo Game Show, for one, has been around since 1996, and is widely considered to be one of the grandfathers of gaming conventions. Its 2015 edition, for example, saw nearly 300,000 attendance from all over the world.
The phenomenon makes sense. Last November, market analyst Newzoo forecasted the global games market would reach almost US$135 billion in 2018 and subsequently reach US$174 billion by 2021.