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Must-see sessions at Devcom 2023

As the industry prepares to descend upon Cologne, check out the highlights of next week's developer conference

Next week, the global games industry will be heading to Cologne, Germany for a week of conferences and trade show, and it all kicks off with the Devcom Developer Conference.

Returning once again to the usual venue of Koelnmesse, the event will see more than 200 speakers spread across over 130 sessions, discussing every aspect of development, publishing and growing the games industry.

We've scoured the program and picked out some of the best sessions, and you can also browse the full program here.

The organisers of Devcom have emphasised that this program is as final as can be at the moment, although some session times may be subject to last-minute changes due to technical issues.

Monday, August 21

The Psychology of Play: The Power of Understanding Your Players

Anna Brandberg | Lead UX Designer, The Outsiders/Funcom
10am, Congresssaal

Devcom's opening keynote will explore how developers can improve their player-centred designs, using examples from major games franchises.

Beneath The Return of Monkey Island: Q&A with LeCrew

11.30am, Stage 1 - Europasaal

Game designer Paul Toderas hosts this panel looking back at the making of last year's acclaimed Return To Monkey Island, speaking to:

  • Ron Gilbert (writer, designer, programmer and series creator)
  • Dave Grossman (writer, designer, and director)
  • Rex Crowle (art director)
  • Zoe Nguyen Thanh (game artist)
  • David Fox (game designer)
Return to Monkey Island

How Hi-Fi Rush was developed 'backwards'

John Johanas | Game director, Tango Gameworks
12.30pm, Stage 1 - Europasaal

The director of Hi-Fi rush shares more about how the surprise Xbox exclusive came to be and how the team learned to completely re-approach its game design philosophy to essentially work backwards

No Pain, No Game! - Examining the Trials and Victories of Game Releases

1.30pm, Stage 5 - Offenbachsaal

Incredibuild's Regev Yativ hosts this panel exploring the challenges studios face during development, infrastructure bottlenecks, and strategies to overcome these. The panel includes:

  • Terranance Cohen - senior engine programmer, Insomniac Games
  • Ari Arnbjornsson - evangelist, Epic Games
  • Brian Cox - lead programmer, NetEase Games Shanghai

Insights on and from the African Games Industry

3pm, Stage 5 - Offenbachsaal

Games Industry Africa's Vic Bassey invites panelists to discuss the realities, opportunities and the evolving landscape of the continent's growing games development scene. The panelists include:

  • Nick Hall - executive director, Africa Games Week
  • Limpho Moeti - business development manager, RocketRide Games
  • Hugo Obi - CEO and founder, Maliyo Games
  • Thomas Shiva - founder, CEO and president, Digital Realm Entertainment and Enter Africa Org

How visibility works on Steam

Erik Peterson | Business development, Valve
5pm, Stage 7

Valve's Erik Petersen talks developers through how Steam connects players with games they're likely to enjoy and how game makers can improve their chances of reaching their target audience.

Tuesday, August 22

Tackling Online Toxicity: Best Practices for Protecting your Players (and IP!)

10am, Stage 11 - Nördliches Sitzungszimmer

This panel, hosted by Andromeda Entertainment's Ashley 'Ashleyriott' Blake, explores how the industry can tackle online toxicity and which moderation solutions can help - including AI ones. The panel includes:

  • Mike Pappas - CEO and co-founder, Modulate
  • Kaila Jarvis - Xbox commercial services specialist, Microsoft
  • Dennis 'Thresh' Fong - CEO, GGWP
  • Ouassima Belmoussi - Project officer, Helpwanted

Dordogne and how to bring traditional art in video Games

Cedric Babouche | Director and art director, Un Je Ne Sais Quoi
Stage 3 - Offenbachsaal

The director of the stunning Dordogne talks attendees through the process that took the indie game from its very first sketches to the final renders that let players explore a living watercolour painting.


Playing with gender: A design framework for character customization

Arden Osthof | Narrative designer
Stage 11 - Nördliches Sitzungszimmer

This talk analyses games that offer more gender-expansive options when it comes to player-created characters, what makes them work, and which pitfalls developers should avoid with their own projects.

How an Alliance between Incubators and Accelerators can support the Game Dev Ecosystem in your Country

Sho Sato | CEO, Ludimus
1.30pm, Stage 9 - Kongresssaal 1

Drawing on his work with the IGDA to establish a new special interest group for incubators and accelerators around the world, Sho Sato talks through proposals for more international collaboration in growning new developer ecosystems in different regions

A marriage story - The indie/publisher relationship

2pm, Stage 8

Fellow Traveller's Chris Wulf moderates this panel session on the ever-evolving relationship between inides and publishers, and the "nitty gritty truths of [this] tempestuous marriage." The panel features:

  • Marie-Anne Hachey - COO, Threaks
  • Jasper Barnes - Head of game scouting, Team17
  • Rami Ismail - indie developer

Your prototype sucks – here's why

Isaque Sanches | Senior game designer, Ubisoft RedLynx
3pm, Stage 1 - Europasaal

This talk goes through common reasons why prototypes don't reflect the envisioned game or perhaps directly hinder it, as well as how to avoid this. is a media partner for Devcom 2023.

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James Batchelor: James is Editor-in-Chief at, and has been a B2B journalist since 2006. He is author of The Best Non-Violent Video Games
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