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Switzerland is well represented on Gamescom

Thousands of video game fans go to Gamescom in Cologne a week. In addition to large studios, Swiss developers also seek attention – with very different game ideas.

Federico Gagliano, Cologne

  The Swiss is in the Gamescom business area. Picture: Julia Malcher / Pro Helvetia (Cologne, 21 August 2018)

The Swiss is in the Gamescom business area. Image: Julia Malcher / Pro Helvetia (Cologne, August 21, 2018)

Actually, the video game fair E3 in Los Angeles, which takes place in June, is considered to be the most important in the gaming industry. But just a few months later, their European counterpart, Gamescom, owns a room in Cologne. Although this is not like E3 with the same number of messages from major development studios aufzutrumpfen, but with many more visitors – while E3 recorded 69,200 visitors this year, approximately 350,000 video game enthusiasts participated in Gamescom 2017. This year, half a million visitors also waited.

Unlike E3, focusing on industry and media, Gamescom focuses more on fans and allows them to play games that are not yet coming. Visitors need a lot of patience: the waiting time for prominent titles like "FIFA 19" or "Battlefield V" can be more than five hours.

23 matches from Switzerland

But also the industry is changing ideas on Gamescom The big halls in the "Entertainment Area" where fans can vapor steam from Wednesday to tomorrow Saturday is a little quieter in the closed business area – but no less hectic . Big and small developers present their games to potential investors and buyers. In both areas: Swiss developers present their games with the support of the Pro Helvetia Cultural Foundation in Cologne. The Swiss development site is constantly expanding: in French and German-speaking countries there are about 120 studios working full-time or part-time on video games. 23 games were chosen to represent Switzerland on Gamescom.

Six of them were also rewarded: they will present their games in Indie Arena Booth, located in one of the public halls. 80 games from 28 countries were selected in an application for the arena. The advantage over the business sector: Developers can present the games directly to the usual visitors at the fair – and maybe sell them.

All dreams of a big break

The 23 Swiss games are characterized by diversity: In the game "Bämeräng" Two players beat each other with a boomerang and score. In "Letter" you go through letters and solve puzzles by finding the solution within the words. In Modsork, you need to control two small boxes connected to a laser and thus turn off opponents – it sounds easy but requires a lot of brain acrobatics. "Modsork" developer David Canela has developed the game alone. For the fair he gets support from a friend, not to take care of the stand all day alone. Other developers work in groups of two to nine.

Not only are their numbers different, but their experience also: while some are still in the middle of their studies, others are already working with their second or third game. These include, for example, Jeremy Spillmann, who has already released several games with "Blindflug Studios". His latest game, Airheart – Tales of Broken Wings, has recently been released on PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4. For Gamescom, he has a surprise: The aircraft's action game will soon appear on the Nintendo Switch with an initially exclusive multiplayer mode.

Despite the differences, the Swiss developers have one thing in common: they all dream of a major breakthrough. An example of what a successful Swiss studio looks like is not far away in one of the major exhibition halls: The studio in Zurich's studio Giants Software with its agricultural simulator series. Their games have become an integral part of the PC charts. The game, where you can empathize with the life, has this year also the Gamescom Award for the best simulation.

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