Damien

We are back from GamesCom!

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We are now back from GamesCom, our heads filled with awesome memories. The event was much more intense than we thought it would be. As a result, we did not find the time to report live from the convention center. We did not even manage to work on the website from our hotel, because the internet there was really bad (lesson learnt for next year). So, we apologize for the lack of "live" content and the delay in releasing the Curse of Naxxramas guides for last week's wing. That said, we still wanted to share what we experienced there, especially since, as a fansite, we were able to purchase Trade Visitor tickets and access the business areas, which are closed to the general public.


Before I start, I would like to share a few pictures I took there. This was the first time I was using my wife's DSLR camera, so there is room for improvement and I will definitely try to do better at BlizzCon. Also, we missed the cosplay contest, because we had a prior engagement to honor.



Prior to to going to GamesCom, BlizzCon 2013 had been the only other gaming convention we had ever attended, and both conventions are very different. BlizzCon is very intimate. There, you can meet almost all of the fansites, streamers, youtubers, podcasters, and players that you follow. Everyone who goes to BlizzCon stays for the 2 days the convention lasts and attends Blizzard-related events in the evenings (usually held at the hotels closest to the convention center). GamesCom is very different. The convention center is gigantic and filled with booths from all of the major game studios (of which, Blizzard's was the largest of all). There are so many different communities mixing up that you will scarcely meet someone who plays Blizzard games (I think 2 or 3 readers walked up to us in the 5 days we were there). A lot of things also happen in the business-only area, which is closed to the general public.


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Business Area


I will start with the business-only area, because I did not expect much from it and we ended up spending a lot of time there. First of all, this is where the interviews with Blizzard employees happen. They had this nice interview area, where you could get free drinks and food while waiting for the scheduled time to come (we were requested to arrive 15 minutes in advance). All our interviews were scheduled to last 20 minutes (except for Heroes of the Storm, which lasted 30 minutes). We were lucky to be alone for the Hearthstone and Diablo III interviews, but we had to share the alloted time with other fansites for WoW and Heroes of the Storm. This is not information that is shared beforehand (at least not to us!), so we had to make a choice on the spot to select the questions that we were going to ask.

All of the other major studios have similar business/interview booths in the business-only area, but many smaller companies in the industry also have their booth: ad agencies, indie studios, content providers, etc. For example, we were just walking around the area when we spotted the Curse booth. We stopped to say hello and we were received by Hubert Thieblot, the CEO, with whom we chatted for quite some time. I went back the next day to get some advice regarding ad-related matters, and I was once again very well received, so kuddos to them!

We also met Jayson Dublin, the CEO of Intergi, the ad agency we have been working with exclusively for the past year and a half. We have always had a strong stance regarding the ads that we allow/disallow on the website, and it was really great to be able to discuss this kind of things face to face with someone from our ad company, especially the CEO.


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General-public Area and Blizzard Booth


The general-public area is a very busy place. There are dozens of thousands of people going from one hall to another, hoping to try out as many games as they can, in the limited amount of time that they have. The booths are a pretty clear indication of a game's popularity, or the lack thereof. For example, the booths for The Elder Scrolls Online and Guild Wars 2 seemed to attract very few players, compared to League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, or Warlords of Draenor. Heroes of the Storm must have been one of the most popular games at the convention, with people queuing up to 2 hours to get to play one match.

If you have taken a look at the schedule I posted last week for the events at Blizzard's main stage, you will have noticed that they had something for every hour of the day. It is the case for all the other booths, so it makes up for a very active, busy, and loud convention, where it is really difficult to decide what to do. For the main part, we stayed at the Blizzard booth, hanged outside next to Hall 7 where we could actually talk to people and hear what they were saying, and watched the Counter Strike: Global Offensive tournaments.

Blizzard employees in the gaming areas of the Blizzard booth were really nice. Most of them were Game Masters from the Paris HQ, and you could see that they were used to helping people. It was in sharp contrast with other booths where it was clear that random people had been hired for the event. They were also very nice to us, letting us play against and coach people playing Hearthstone or organizing a 5v5 Heroes of the Storm match between us and people from the attendance.

I could go on for a long time on how great GamesCom was, but I think that these few lines will have given you an idea of how it was. We definitely intend to go back next year and have already booked our hotel (so we will not have to drive 45 minutes to the convention center!), and we hope to see some of you there.
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