The sustainability of major games events heading into the future

Presenting at Summer Game Fest or Gamescom isn't cheap which raises the question whether these costs are viable long term.
Gamescom 2019 Press Day
Gamescom 2019 Press Day / Lukas Schulze/GettyImages

Summer Game Fest just ended and Gamescom is right around the corner. E3 may have succumbed to the COVID-19 global pandemic, but the real hit was a shift in the industry that’s still happening today. As Sony makes waves for not being fully present at SGF and now they nor Nintendo are going to Gamescom, there should be a true conversation around whether these big showcases are truly sustainable.

While Microsoft will be at Gamescom, which runs from August 21-25, two of the other power players in the industry have elected to skip. Sony hasn’t attended Gamescom in years, and Nintendo is expected to have what is considered a “quieter” 2024 heading into the rumored Switch 2 launch in 2025.

This news is interesting as gaming organizations find more ways to reach their target audience without major events like these. Sony has leveraged their State of Play and PlayStation Showcase events as strong digital deliveries that feature all the information, they want their gaming base to know. Xbox uses its Direct events to get news out while Nintendo offers its own version of a Direct as well.

Another major point in this conversation is the cost for companies to be present at these events. A recent feature in Esquire highlighted the costs of SGF. A one-minute trailer costs $250k. One and a half minutes? $350k. Two minutes comes in at $450k and two and a half minutes sits at $550k. There are smaller opportunities available, such as a biz dev pass that costs $500. Private-meeting cabanas cost $50k for three days or $20k per day.

Those price tags are nothing to balk at. Gamescom also has increasing costs that hinder or dissuade companies from being at the event. Marketing budgets aren’t what they used to be, and these events can quickly cut into the available money to be spent to promote upcoming products and games. Take the perspective of an organization like Sony, which could easily face millions of dollars in expenses for attending these events throughout the year. In a perfect world, those costs can be funneled back into the marketing of games and products, or hopefully into the hands of workers within the company.

As organizations leverage their digital channels to reach their player bases, there needs to be a conversation about the viability of major events like Summer Game Fest and Gamescom. As the costs of those events continue to rise, organizations are shifting their focus on attending. E3 was eventually forced to end after companies saw it as obsolete with unjustifiable costs. That could be the future of major events like SGF and Gamescom.