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Brief Published: 7 Sep 2021

Key Reveals from Gamescom 2021

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Gamescom 2021

This year's edition of Europe's largest trade fair for gaming returned as an all-online event, with 13 million attendees tuning in to the three-day conference. This marks a 30% growth on Gamescom 2020, highlighting the gaming market's growing audience. From endless adventures and metaverse music to empowered esports communities, we look beyond the headlines to reveal three key developments.

Endless Adventures for Exploration Gamers

Dream Cycle is an upcoming "ever-expanding game world" from LA-based game studio Cathuria Games. Cathuria Games is helmed by gaming veteran Toby Gard, who created the original Tomb Raider in the 90s. Dream Cycle will task single players with trying to mend a magical world that was shattered into 'shards' – levels that players travel to and explore using combat, magic, and stealth in order to mend the broken fantasy world.

Players at early access launch from September 7 will have their pick between over 10,000 procedurally generated levels to explore, and Cathuria Games plans to keep building the experience. "The game is supposed to be a portal for people to go on these endless adventures," Gard told US entertainment news network IGN at Gamescom.

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Dream Cycle
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DeadMau5's Move into Metaverse Music

Music creation and performance is becoming a key aspect of online social gaming ecosystems – unlocking commercial opportunities for brands that we shared in Pop Culture Pulse: Connecting Creative Audiences. Now, EDM musician Deadmau5 announced Oberhasli, an "interactive concert experience" hosted on Californian developer Manticore's game creation platform Core. The experience will kick off on October 14 with live performances from Deadmau5 and other artists.

Beyond that, Oberhasli will be an evolving and persistent online space filled with music and games, curated by Deadmau5 and without the limited event status of previous online concerts. For a taste of what to expect, check out Deadmau5's campaign for Core players to create the music video for his July 2021 song When the Summer Dies.

This partnership with Deadmau5 is a big step for Manticore towards establishing its position against competitor social gaming platforms Fortnite and Roblox, which have both drawn huge audiences with virtual live performances by artists such as Travis Scott and Lil Nas X in 2020 (See Pop Culture Primer 2021).

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Deadmau5 When the Summer Dies

Empowering Esports Communities

In Pop Culture Pulse: New Forms of FOMO, we revealed how shared live events online are going to define the next era of social media. Platforms where players can organise their own esports leagues draw huge crowds of gamers looking for consistent recreational competition and a path into professional esports leagues. Game.tv, for example, currently allows mobile gamers to explore a network of 100,000 guilds (groups of gamers that regularly play together) and host impromptu matches and longer tournaments through the app's organisation tools. Two upcoming game titles from the sports gaming sector are similarly empowering their own dynamic communities.

The latest in spectacle driving game series Forza Horizon will include an Events Lab where players will create and host their own race events. The series is known for its spectacular settings and faithful physics engines, letting players ride virtual cars through life-like recreations of jungles, deserts, and known metropolises. The Events Lab will enable creators to control granular conditions during their events, from surprise tornados to the exact consistency of mud on the track and windshield.

Meanwhile, UFL by Pan-European developer Strikerz wants to become the free-to-play competitor to football simulation mega-seller Fifa (325 million copies sold so far). UFL plans to raise a global online football league where players create their own clubs made up of more than 5,000 licensed footballers. Global player union FifPro is providing athlete likenesses and licenses, while players' in-game performance will be rated through partnerships with sports performance analysis company InStat. This focus on skill and global rankings could bring forth the virtual equivalent of amateur weekend leagues, and a grassroots mirror to EA Games' Fifa 21 esports Global Series.

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