Fair underscores the serious business of playing games
By Renate Grimming and Erik Nebel Aug 21, 2007, 12:29 GMT
Leipzig, Germany - Europe's biggest show for interactive entertainment, the Games Convention, opens on Thursday with 410 exhibitors from 26 countries displaying their products.
Running until August 26, this year's event will be the biggest ever, with more than 200,000 people expected to visit the Leipzig Exhibition Centre in Germany, organizers say.
'The GC is experiencing another growth spurt this year,' said Leipzig Fair managing director Josef Rahmen. 'Both the number of exhibiting companies and the individual presentation areas have clearly expanded over the last year.'
Playing games is a part of human nature it is only the toys that have changed over the course of time. This year, hundreds of new games can be tried out on video consoles, computers and cellphones.
There are fast-moving games for younger players, games suitable for children and families and an area where parents and their children can test the latest educational software.
Many of the games will have their global premier in Leipzig where visitors will have the chance to test them for the first time, said Olaf Wolters of the trade organization BIU.
High Definition games will be one of the attractions, 'as well as games aimed at new target groups such as older people and women,' Wolters said.
Industry behemoths such as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will all be there along with software specialists Electronic Arts and newcomers to the scene like Intenium.
The big names will again have their displays designed in the shape of huge games arenas with a capacity to host hundreds of visitors at any given time.
One new game item people are looking forward to is the video game to The Simpsons movie. Ubisoft will also have a new variation of its popular Siedler game, while Konami will be showing Pro Evolution Soccer 2008.
The show will also mark the European debut of the elite version of Microsoft's Xbox 360. The designer edition in black lacquer is due to go on sale in Germany on Friday.
With a 120-gigabyte hard drive it also has an additional cooling element to prevent overheating as experienced by some users of the standard Xbox 360 version.
In addition to the display halls, the 115,000 square metres of exhibition space includes a business centre where buyers and sellers will have the chance to discuss deals for the lucrative Christmas trade.
Industry sources say the games market in Germany is expected to experience a 45 per cent turnover this year to around 2 billion euros (2.68 billion dollars).
One segment which is attracting a growing interest is Casual Games, especially those aimed at women. Some 150 million people around the world use these games, with around 60 per cent of those women over 35.
'Casual Games have developed into a new driving force in the games industry,' says Konstantin Nikulin, founder of the software developer Intenium.
Among them are popular classics like Scrabble and Monopoly, the rights for the computer versions of which were recently snapped up by Electronic Arts.
Before the public has a chance to sample the games, the convention will open its doors to members of the press and industry on Wednesday to allow them to inspect the halls.
In addition to the displays there will be an accompanying programme of live concerts and a range of sports. There is also an outdoor pool and camping facilities.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur