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Gamescom offers 100 free flights to UK retail

Canada confirmed as official partner country; Natal and Move likely to receive first public showing

Gamescom is to offer the first 100 traders buying a ticket to this year's industry event free flights over to Cologne in an effort to attract more members of the UK industry to the leading European show.

The free flight offer is being held in conjunction with Germanwings and is open to specialist dealers from the UK who register using the online ticket shop and purchase their admission ticket before Friday, May 14.

At a press conference held in London today, Koelnmesse GmbH MD Oliver P Kuhrt said: "Gamescom will be able to expand its international reach and improve its status as Europe's largest games trade fair. Particularly for dealers from the United Kingdom – it is thus the ideal information and order platform.

"In addition, the excellent transport connections make Cologne a 'neighbouring town' for all of Europe."

Also intended to expand the event's international reach is its organisers' decision to partner with Canada for this year's conference.

As official partner country of Gamescom Canada will host a range of exclusive presentations. The country was largely chosen for its forward thinking contribution to the industry, said the Koelnmesse organisers. It is a country that is doing a lot for the games industry, they added, most notably with tax breaks and funding.

The organisers were keen to emphasise though that a new country – and possibly a European one – would be selected for next year's event. And that Gamescom was still intended as a European event focusing on European issues, which tended to be different to those of North America and the Asian markets.

"We are very pleased to have won Canada, the country with the highest innovation and development power for the global games industry, as a partner of gamescom already in the first year of the partner country concept," said Kuhrt.

"With Canada as first official partner country, Gamescom emphasises its position as an internationally leading business, impulse and entertainment platform and its ability to open the doors to the most important markets in the world. I'm sure Canada will create a furore at gamescom."

A whole assortment of event services were discussed during the conference – including the new online matchmaking capabilities and online calendar.

OnlineWorld would be extended this year it was revealed, and a Browser Games Park would provide an area for small to medium-sized companies specialising in online games. Meanwhile, Games Competence would focus on media literacy issues, such as subjects for teachers and discussions on age ratings, and an open air launch concert was planned in downtown Colgone on August, complete with stages for a variety of music, gaming and entertainment.

Perhaps the biggest coup for the conference through will be the fact it's looking likely to be the first place the public will be able to get their hands on Microsoft and Sony's new motion control technologies – although the organisers said that it would be up to the two platform holders to officially confirm their attendance on the show floor.

All of this considered, it's perhaps not surprising the event's organisers are hoping for an even bigger turn out than last year.

"We're hoping for a 10% increase in visitors," said Kuhrt - which would amount to visitor numbers of around 260,000.

Gamecom 2010 will take place between August 18 and 22 and advance tickets are on sale now at a 25% discounted rate at its online shop.

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