Record crowds expected at world’s largest video game fair

Gamescom in Cologne expected to top last year’s attendance of 340,000

The world's largest video game fair is set to draw a record attendance this week as visitors seek out titles for new consoles from Microsoft and Sony.

Gamescom, which is being held in Cologne, Germany, is expected to draw more visitors than last year's 340,000, organisers say.

For the event, Sony tapped veteran game developer Hideo Kojima to promote the latest instalment of Metal Gear Solid, one of the best-selling series in history, for its PlayStation 4. Microsoft is showing footage of Quantum Break, an Xbox One- exclusive action adventure.

Among games publishers, Ubisoft Entertainment will compete with Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts in getting a headstart into the holiday season and benefit from surging sales of the latest machines.

"The next-generation consoles are selling better than expected, but there is a dearth of games tailored to what they're capable of," said Todd Mitchell, an analyst at Brean Capital in New York. "We're finally looking at a much more robust lineup for the fall, and there will start to be winners and losers."

Unlike the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, Gamescom, which has been held since 2009, is open to the public on four out of five days, making resonance on social media more important.

New business

To win new customers, games -makers are trying out new business models, such as the sort of monthly subscriptions used by Netflix, instead of the traditional pay-per-game model.

At the same time, they need to keep an eye on smaller publishers winning users over with free-to-play games that generate revenue through payments for in-game content such as upgrades to weapons.

Sony’s new console has sold 10 million units worldwide, it said. The machine has been leading Microsoft’s Xbox One since the two devices started selling in late 2013. That’s prompted Microsoft to offer its console unbundled from the Kinect motion-sensing device to lower its sales price.

Electronic Arts, the largest maker of games for the Xbox One and PS4, is presenting playable versions of its sports titles FIFA 15 and NHL 15, and will also show role-playing game Dragon Age Inquisition along with mobile titles, chief operating officer Peter Moore said. – (Bloomberg)