The SPIEL organizers predicted around 200.000 visitors - and they made an accurate estimate: Friedhelm Merz Verlag ultimately counted 193.000 fans from 85 countries at the gaming fair in Essen. It was full, but the new record didn't fall.
"The GAME in Essen is over. It was a trade fair of superlatives. The event has never been bigger in its history - and with a record number of visitors, the organizers could have topped off their project in the first year. It stays with the subjunctive. Because: the new visitor record should not be set. This is now evident from the official figures from Friedhelm Merz Verlag.
The SPIEL in a new era
“Thanks to this impressive number and a total area of 62.500 m², the largest SPIEL of all time took place,” writes the organizer. “The diversity of the over 1.700 new products that were shown at the world's leading trade fair demonstrated that board games are more modern and up-to-date than ever before.” The success was also overwhelming for the seven-person core team behind the Essen games fair.
“We had hoped that more people would come to SPIEL than last year, but we did not expect this number,” said Carol Rapp, managing director of Merz Verlag since November. After all, the organizers had already counted on a full trade fair in advance and, after advance ticket sales went well, they had already increased the original forecast of 180.000 by just over ten percent. Ultimately, it should turn out something like this: with 193.000 fans, SPIEL '23 is only just below the record result from 2019. 209.000 visitors came four years ago, then Corona came and the rapid growth suddenly stopped. After all, SPIEL experienced a real boom in fan numbers, especially in the years from 2012 onwards. The trade fair grew steadily until the last pre-Corona year.
“It’s great to see that we have struck a chord with the gaming community with many new ideas.”Florian Hess, managing director of Merz Verlag and board member of the Spielwarenmesse
The clock has been turned back with this year's edition. “It was wonderful to feel so much joy in the halls, at the gaming tables, in the aisles and among the exhibitors. We have changed a lot of things this year to make SPIEL even more accessible and engaging, and the number of visitors on each day and the general feedback shows us that we have achieved this.”
Part of this What changed was the thematic sorting of the halls for family games, connoisseur and expert games as well as role-playing, trading card and miniature games. The new hall concept, coupled with significantly wider aisles, helped to better distribute the crowd in the halls.
“This measure made it easy to find small stands from relatively unknown exhibitors in all halls,” says Friedhelm Merz Verlag. With 935 exhibitors from 56 nations, SPIEL was once again extremely international this year.
The significantly increased interest in SPIEL Essen primarily affected the frequency of exhibitors: “Our stand was really well attended on all four days. The gaming tables were almost always completely full,” says Andreas Finkernagel, managing director of Friedberger Verlag Pegasus Spiele, adding: “We had significantly more sales at the trade fair than in previous years. Although the individual receipt was a little lower, we had many more customers at the checkout.”
Ravensburger created a real blockbuster with the new trading card game Disney Lorcan to which an exclusive special menu was released at SPIEL Essen. The queue for the game broke through the hall wall and had to be directed through a gate into the adjacent Hall 7. The fair has never seen such a rush.
|Disney Lorcana Trading Card Game: The First Chapter - Booster... *||239,00 EUR||Buy|
In addition to the many games, extensive program items and activities in the exhibition halls and rooms ensured variety. In addition to book signings, tournaments and special game demos from the exhibitors, Merz Verlag once again offered an additional program. On the Thursday of the trade fair there were panels about the change and future of the games industry.
The Educators' Day, which has been established for four years, took place on Friday with topics on education, research and teaching relating to board games. With around 1.000 educators from different countries, the Educators' Day was the most successful panel day SPIEL has ever had. At times there was no more space in the meeting room. Those interested had to be referred to the video recording, which will be available on the SPIEL Essen YouTube channel in the next few days. In return, they were able to spend more time at the exhibitors' information stands, which this year also provided more information about their educational games than ever before.
The GAME with cat face
There was a special program offered by Merz Verlag every day in the Galeria. Here, all visitors were able to paint miniatures of SPIEL's new mascot, the cat Meeps, free of charge and take them home with them. A total of 1.200 of the small figures were distributed to children and adults.
On the Wednesday before the trade fair, the German Games Prize was awarded at SPIEL. The authors and publishers were correspondingly delighted when Germany's largest community award for board games went to 1st place "Planet Unknown", 3nd place "Dorfromantik" and XNUMXrd place "Heat" as well as Best Children's Game “Mystery Kids” went.
“It's great to see that we've hit the nerve of the gaming community with many new ideas. The team staged everything perfectly,” sums up Florian Hess, managing director of Merz Verlag and board member of Spielwarenmesse eG, and emphasizes: “Things will continue just as exciting with SPIEL, as we have a lot planned for the next few years.”
Now the organizers want to evaluate the feedback and immediately start “planning and further optimizing the next SPIEL”. There is still a year left for it: SPIEL Essen 2024 will take place from October 3rd to 6th, 2024.
|Strawman Games STR23003 Planet Unknown Kennerspiele *||62,47 EUR||Buy|
* = affiliate link. If you purchase via one of the links, we receive a portion of the purchase price as a commission. There are no additional costs for you, but you can support our portal by doing so. Last updated on September 30.11.2023, XNUMX / Affiliate links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. Images from Amazon PA API.