Organizers had hoped for some form of in-person event, but exhibitors have decided that it's too soon.
Gaᴍᴇscom ᴏʀgᴀɴizers ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴀɴɴᴏunced thᴀᴛ despɪᴛe tʜᴇir ʙᴇst efꜰᴏʀts ᴛᴏ ᴘᴜᴛ ᴛᴏɢᴇᴛʜᴇr a "hybrid" sʜᴏᴡ ꜰᴏʀ 2021 thᴀᴛ ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅ ɪɴclude sᴏᴍᴇ ꜰᴏʀm ᴏꜰ ɪɴ-persᴏɴ ᴀᴛtᴇɴᴅᴀɴce, tʜɪs yᴇᴀʀ's ᴇᴠᴇɴt—ʟɪᴋᴇ lᴀst yᴇᴀʀ—ᴡɪʟʟ ʙᴇ ꜰᴜʟʟy digɪᴛal. Tʜᴇ decɪsiᴏɴ wᴀs ᴍᴀᴅᴇ ᴀꜰᴛᴇʀ ᴛᴀʟᴋs wɪᴛh pᴀʀᴛners ᴀɴd exhiʙɪᴛᴏʀs reveaʟᴇᴅ thᴀᴛ ᴛᴏo mᴀɴy ᴏꜰ tʜᴇm simply ᴀʀᴇn't ʏᴇᴛ prepᴀʀᴇd ᴛᴏ ᴛᴀᴋᴇ pᴀʀᴛ ɪɴ physical ᴇᴠᴇɴts.
"Even though the hybrid concept was very well received by the partners, we had to recognize that Gamescom still comes too early for many companies in the industry due to the required planning reliability," Koelnmesse chief operating officer Oliver Frese said. "One thing is absolutely clear: All those involved now need planning reliability. That's why we're going for a purely digital Gamescom again this year and, with sufficient lead time, will be able to offer the gaming community an even stronger online event at the end of August 2021."
It's not a terribly surprising decision. Despite the development of multiple vaccines, the Covid-19 pandemic is an ongoing health care crisis and remains out of control in large parts of the world. Other major industry events including E3, GDC, and PAX East have also pulled the plug on live events planned for 2021.
As with the 2020 event, Gamescom 2021 will kick off with an Opening Night Live show hosted by (of course) Geoff Keighley, which will take place on August 25. Leading up to that will be something called Gamescom Epix, "a community campaign that allows fans to playfully immerse themselves in the Gamescom universe on the road to Gamescom." Details on all of it can be had at gamescom.global.