GC 2004 – Introduction & Day #0
   by Thomas C.

Looking back in time at the decade and a half in which the video game industry started its still unstopped victorious progress through the world, 3 events turned out to be of the utmost importance to every industry member: The Godfather of shows, E3 in Los Angeles, its “smaller brother” the ECTS in London, and last but not least the Tokyo Game Show in Japan.

If a company had something big to announce, a new blockbuster to show, or simply longed for attention by the general media it had to be done at one of those three shows. Times have changed though. While we have yet to see if the EGN (European Games Network) and its sidekick the Game Stars Live Event will beat ECTS in the UK, the same concept (in this case the combination of an industry-only and a general audience event) definitely worked out for Games Convention in Leipzig.

In its third year of glory, the Games Convention was yet again bigger and better than in the year before - not only in size but also in importance. Never before have companies revealed as many titles to the general public, made as many important announcements, or featured as many new products at a video game fair except at the E3.

If you weren’t among the 106.000 visitors or one of the 1.700 journalists or simply fear that you haven’t seen everything there was to see don’t fear anymore: GamersHell.com was there for you, we met the developers, we played the games and watched the shows and we will be happy to share the information wealth over the next days. Some may wonder why we are starting our in-depth GC coverage a little later than most other sites. We haven't been lazy or anything just busy because we went to London for you right after the GC to cover the ECTS and the EGN as well. So I can promise you that: we will have lots of interessting features ready soon.

Let’s start right away and start where it started for us – Wednesday the 18th, Day Zero, Press Conference Day.

09:55 - Nintendo

Nintendo started off a long day of press conferences, and their way of waking up the audience was quiet unique – announcing that they are Number 1 and have 52% of the market under control startled everyone. Of course, the surprise was short-lived. While the numbers and the ways they were obtained are without a doubt perfectly correct, their expressiveness regarding what really counts is maybe doubtable. Nintendo compared itself to its biggest competitors on the German market, obviously Microsoft and Sony, but they didn’t compare their GameCube to the PlayStation and the Xbox – instead they added their market share on the handheld market. Together the GameCube and the GameBoy obviously leave Sony and Microsoft standing but why does Nintendo believe that they need to gloss over the fact that they aren’t number one on the video console market anymore?

After this strange look at things that - if at all - will bother security analysts (and maybe Nintendo’s competitors) but not the average gamer Nintendo allowed the media to take a glimpse of what they will be showing during the fair and what else they have in store for this Christmas and early next year. But those we will cover in an article to follow...

A nice final gimmick was a video in which Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of the Mario and Zelda and first celebrity of the day, sent greetings to everyone at Leipzig and talked a little bit about the Nintendo DS. No new information was revealed then or later during the show.

10:50 - Konami

I met him. I really met him in person. And somebody took a photograph of me and him. Who did I meet? Hideo Kojima himself of course!


Ok if you are not a member of the press or a REAL hardcore gamer there is a slim chance that you have an excuse (but likely not a good one) for not knowing who I’m talking about. I will forgive you this once and give you a hint – Boktai anyone? Zone of the Enders? Metal Gear FOR GOD’S SAKE? Every single one a creation of his.

Hideo Kojima is one of the most influential producers and developers in the industry and his being in Leipzig is a good example of how important Leipzig has already become in the eyes of the video game industry. He presented a brand new trailer of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (sorry, we haven’t gotten permission to put this online *yet*), talked about some of the new features in MGS 3 and how MGS completes the series in more than one way - no more details so you can look forward to our Konami coverage...

11:40 - Buena Vista Games

Buena Vista surprised the audience with Tron 2.0 last year, and this time had a few more surprises ready. More on them later – let me just say now that their games aren’t tailored toward kids only.

12:35 - Ubisoft

That numbers in Ubisoft’s upcoming title “Playboy: The Mansion” will hardly mark someone’s IQ shouldn’t be a surprise even for those people “who only buy it for the articles”. So, who is likely suited to talk about (or was it show?) the intrinsic values of this game? A playmate of course!  Melanie Eder is Germanys Playmate of the year and will – like many other former playmates – be featured in the game.

Also at the conference Bendikt Grindel and he yet again talked about Settlers: Heritage of Kings (which scored the show’s Best PC Game award by the way, congratulations from us) but if you took a look at our exclusive video interview already you will be better informed than every single journalist at the press conference – that’s what we made it for after all...

Before I cause you restless nights last but not least the three “intrinsic values” all you “article readers” have been looking for all over the article: 85–62–92. Feeling better now?

13:30 - EA

Electronic Arts likes talking about numbers at press conferences. Sales, turnover, profits, market shares and statistics characterized the press conference of the largest video game publisher of all. Three days in the halls thought us that they definitely don’t need to hide their upcoming line-up behind dry numbers – but I believe that they are very well aware of this... any you will be soon, too...

14:25 - BigBen, 10tacel

BigBen and some of its partners were next on our list. Most notable in their joint line-up was definitely the ZBoard, a new kind of keyboard we’ve already featured in our news. The zBoard is not “only” a keyboard with a replaceable layout but the technical specs are impressive as well and our upcoming review of it – a sample is already on its way to us – will show if the ZBoard is maybe the new keyboard reference we all hope it is.

15:20 - Microsoft

As the conference day came to an end, two more of the big ones were waiting for us: Microsoft and Sony. Since we sprinted to the closest internet terminal only minutes after the conferences were over the “big news” are no longer big news for you since you already know it by now: both announced the likely last price drop for the current generation of video game consoles (at least till their successors are released) and both systems now retail for 149.95€.

By the way –both Fable and Halo 2 multiplayer were playable for the first time in Leipzig.

16:30 - Sony

Last but not least: Sony. The already mentioned price cut was announced by David Reeves, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Unlike all other conferences that were held in the dedicated press center, Sony held its conference in the fair hall itself. Surrounded by crews still working on the last details of their respective stands, Sony talked about its current market situation and future plans. Obviously, the Nintendo conference was closely monitored and a few sarcastic comments were made about the interesting statistics shown.

A few previews and miscellaneous announcements later, the unveiling of new advertisement campaigns featuring cooperation with famous ex-Formula-One pilot Niki Lauda and the German rock group The Fantastic Four rounded off the conference.

Good night

It would be an understatement to say that pretty much everyone was glad that the long conference day finally came to an end after Sony’s conference, but even more interesting and exhausting days still lay ahead for all of us – but more of this in the articles to come.