GDC Europe made its debut in 2009, providing a more serene, developer-focused event before Gamescom and its huge crowds took over the conference centre. However, last year saw that run come to an end, leaving a major hole in the most significant week for the games industry in Europe.
That gap will be filled by Devcom, which will include a range of different events from Sunday August 20 to Thursday August 24. A new developer conference will join the existing, indie-focused Respawn: Gathering of Game Developers, and there will be numerous Devcom-branded events within Gamescom itself.
We sat down with Lars Vormann, head of Gamescom at BIU, Frank Sliwka, the organiser of Devcom, and Stephan Reichert, managing director of Aruba Events, to learn more about Devcom's debut year.
Devcom is filling the gap left by GDC Europe, but it actually includes a number of different events. Where will they be located?
Frank Sliwka: Devcom will take place in the Congress Centre East of the Koelnmesse. We wanted to have everything in one place, or at least close by, which is why Respawn is moving onto trade fair grounds as well. It will no longer be held off-site.
What form will Devcom take, and what is its relationship to Gamescom?
"The goal is to create a conference that won't just run alongside Gamescom, but grow to become an integral part of Gamescom."
Lars Vormann: Devcom is an important strategic addition to Gamescom, which has allowed us to provide a new space for game developers to meet and exchange ideas. After the loss of GDC Europe, we seized the opportunity to create a new event with a much more holistic approach. The goal is to create a conference with outstanding speakers and multiple focuses, which won't just run alongside Gamescom, but grow to become an integral part of Gamescom.
Devcom consists of a number of different elements: the Devcom developer conference, the Respawn conference, the Developer Night and Lounge, as well as summits, masterclasses and the Gamescom keynotes; all will be held under the Devcom banner.
How are these elements spread out across the conference program?
Frank Sliwka: Devcom begins on Sunday afternoon, and the developer conference and Respawn will take place at the same time on Sunday and Monday. The Devcom conference will offer talks and the Mobile / Innovation Summit straight away on Sunday, along with the expo floor and a matchmaking area. Respawn's program starts in the afternoon, including some late night talks that last until 11pm.
On Monday, the Devcom developer conference will continue with tracks on business, game design and a variety of technological topics, as well as our Influencer Summit.
On Monday there will be a Devcom developer night. What can we expect from this event?
Stephan Reichart: It's really just a party, and an opportunity for attendees to get talking and do business in a casual setting. We wanted to keep our attendees onsite for a little longer, which is why the talks later in the day are more focused on entertainment. Maybe we'll add a bar, too - I can see that working nicely.
Frank Sliwka: We're not trying to run a strict schedule. We're constantly talking to the community and the advisory board to make sure we give the community what they want instead of imposing our own ideas on them. Instead, we have a framework that gives us the necessary flexibility to make changes when we need to.
How many talks are planned for the Devcom schedule?
"We see ourselves as the business development pool for Gamescom, allowing it to cover new topics and reach new audiences"
Frank Sliwka: For Devcom, we have over 100 slots to be filled with talks, whether during the main conference, a summit, Respawn or in a masterclass.
The second half of Devcom starts on Tuesday and ends on Thursday, but it takes place in the business area of Gamescom itself. Why is that?
Lars Vormann: We wanted to make sure that Devcom was closely connected to Gamescom, so we will set up a lounge in the business area of Gamescom for attendees with the right ticket. It will have an area for meetings, and this is also where the rooms in which the masterclasses will be held are located.
It gives Devcom more visibility within Gamescom, and it allows us to provide content to developers that goes beyond the usual topics covered in the business area. We see ourselves as the business development pool for Gamescom, allowing it to cover new topics and reach new audiences.
The Gamescom keynotes, however, will still be held in the CC East.
Why are they called the Gamescom keynotes?
Frank Sliwka: We are organising the keynotes in coordination with Gamescom, which is why they are officially called Gamescom keynotes.
There are both business and public keynotes. What's the reasoning behind having both?
Frank Sliwka: Presentations held during Gamescom tend to focus on individual games shown by exhibitors. With these keynotes, we want to bring more attention to larger trends and discussions. We want to establish this new focus through our business keynotes aimed at trade visitors.
In addition to that, we have the public keynotes. These are more entertaining in nature. My hope is that the public keynotes will give Gamescom attendees a chance to peek behind the curtains of the games industry.
GamesIndustry.biz is a media partner for Devcom. We will be attending the conference, with assistance from the organiser.