Photo gallery from Spiel'22 in Essen:

The International Match Days do not end with a record number of visitors: the organizing Friedhelm Merz Verlag was able to announce this in the year before Corona. This year the figures are more moderate. Nevertheless, the highlight is that the trade fair was able to take place under almost normal conditions. 

The summary of the organizers is positive: "This year's SPIEL under the new owner, Spielwarenmesse eG, was a complete success," says Dominique Metzler, Managing Director of Friedhelm Merz Verlag. But it was not enough for a visitor record – the organizers counted around 147.000 visitors this year in Essen. In 2019 it was about 200.000 gaming fans. A huge slump? Compared to 2019 yes, but it wasn't about records. 

Because: the increase compared to last year's Corona version of the Essen trade fair also falls significantly. The organizers recorded 53 percent more fans. The number of visitors is therefore developing positively even under persistent pandemic conditions. For the organizers, the conditions indicated in advance that there would be an increase compared to 2021. The booked exhibitor area grew by 75 percent, and many large game publishers celebrated their comeback at SPIEL. In addition, a record 1.800 new products were presented at the trade fair.

And something else is good: the industry's view of the holidays. "The enthusiasm for board and parlor games is unbroken," says Friedhelm Merz Verlag. Due to the positive feedback that the exhibitors took away from their game rounds, they were optimistic about the upcoming Christmas business.

Many games from all over the world

Almost 150.000 visitors met 980 exhibitors from 56 countries. The gaming tables at the stands were well attended. There was a relaxed atmosphere among the visitors - the joy of personal exchange was just as palpable as the curiosity about the games presented. This was noticed in the scene long before the start: especially frequent players were really looking forward to the event. On the other hand, there was no fever at the trade fair: Corona remained an issue, albeit on the sidelines. This was noticeable on site, above all through the masks. Otherwise, SPIEL'22 was the hoped-for "normal" game fair.

Exhibitors are pleased with the extensive feedback from consumers. Heiko Windfelder, program manager at KOSMOS Spielware: “First of all, thank you very much for organizing this important and exciting trade fair. Persevering was worth it. People came and come and have great fun playing. We increased the number of our tables - they were full from start to finish. I think: A nice, positive experience for all of us in these difficult times!" Andreas Finke, Senior Manager Exhibition, Training, Event at Amigo Spiele, adds: "We had expected so many people to come. But we didn't expect this purchasing power. We didn't see any restraint, rather an increase."

In addition to the industry giants, many first-time exhibitors and small publishers came to Essen again this year. For them, networking with the community and other publishers is essential. Many visitors took the opportunity to stock up on autumn novelties they had come to love. Small publishers in particular benefit from this situation.

For example, Sehee Kim from the South Korean publisher G-Game is satisfied: "I have met many customers and have sold almost all of my games." Producers also use the fair for contacts in the B2B sector. The Chinese manufacturer Cool Games Manufacturing was in Essen for the first time and, following successful customer acquisition, is already planning to visit next year. Then maybe more luck with customs – they had hit hard at some international publishers.

Colorful supporting program for education and fun

In addition to all the new products, SPIEL had a diverse supporting program. The range of event highlights outside of the gaming tables has once again increased compared to the previous year. The expansion underlines the claim of the organizers to make a contribution to the further development of board game culture with SPIEL.

The second Educators' Day took place on the Friday of the fair. The program specifically for educators and teachers is dedicated to the use of board games in the classroom and in community or senior work. The lectures were accompanied by an extensive opportunity to try out suitable games. In addition, the Research Day in cooperation with the "Boardgame Historian" project took place for the first time on the Saturday of the fair. The panel discussions, which revolved around board game research in Germany, met with great interest.

The mixture of informative supporting program, the novelty presentations and the opportunity to test and buy games were very well received by both visitors and exhibitors. "After the event, the companies are optimistic about the Christmas business," says Florian Hess, Managing Director of Friedhelm Merz Verlag. "There is always play - even if the purchasing power in this segment is not yet foreseeable in the coming months due to the current situation."

The date for the next SPIEL has already been set: The upcoming International Match Days will take place from October 5th to 8th, 2023, then again in Essen. The city in the Ruhr area is still the year after Location of GAME as confirmed by Spielwarenmesse eG.

Information and background information about SPIEL'22 in Essen is always available at or on the Friedhelm-Merz-Verlag website:

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