20 years ago: The cancellation of CeBIT Home 2000 paves the way to the Games Convention


20 years ago today, on May 31, 2000, Messe Hannover is canceling the planned third edition of CeBIT Home. On the one hand it is the end of the short-lived multimedia fair; at the same time, it leads to the emergence of another: the Games Convention in Leipzig. She in turn later moves to Cologne as Gamescom.

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In the early nineties the Amiga fair in Cologne developed into a remarkable game show with numerous exhibitors. Only for a few years until the star burns up. This is followed by a long odyssey of the gaming industry after a representative event that primarily attracts media attention. Trade fair companies, however, are waving away. You only see no perspective in an independent performance show with computer games.

Games are initially only a part of proven events. Sony first introduced the PlayStation at the IFA in 1995. At the Frankfurt Book Fair, the multimedia hall is a popular meeting place for the industry. Manufacturers like Nintendo are also showing something new at the Nuremberg Toy Fair.

And there is CeBIT. After reaching a record 755,000 visitors in 1995, the balancing act is becoming increasingly difficult to inspire trade visitors and private audiences alike. So you decide a little sister for the end user. The CeBIT Home should alternate with the IFA, which only takes place every two years until 2005, and also poach content in its territory. Consumer electronics, multimedia and networking are the key words.

The premiere in 1996 reached 210,000 visitors. Not a bad start; but many exhibitors cannot afford to exhibit at the large and small CeBIT. And there is more and more exciting things for visitors to see at the “right” CeBIT. The second CeBIT Home 1998 is a number smaller. Less space, fewer exhibitors, fewer visitors.

At this point, Hanover has already announced a risky decision. Because the exhibition center was occupied in 2000 due to the Expo, CeBIT Home is to be held at a different location. Several cities submit applications. Leipzig wins the contract. Deutsche Messe AG wants to continue to organize CeBIT Home itself and only rent into the Leipzig exhibition halls, as is customary for guest events.

A short time later, Hermann Achilles takes a look at the Leipzig trade fair. Together with Ronald Schäfer, he leads the young association of German game manufacturers VUD. Josef Rahmen, the head of the Leipziger Messe, visits CeBIT Home 1998. He is fascinated by the games. They are gathered in Hall 3 under the keyword “Digital Entertainment”. There are “The Settlers 3” and “Age of Empires 2”. As a mood, the VUD members meet at their 1999 annual meeting in Leipzig.

But nothing will come of the CeBIT Home in Leipzig. After Sony also turns its back on the event and thus the planned first presentation of the PlayStation 2 in Germany, the fair pulls the emergency brake.

Just a few days after the cancellation 20 years ago today, Josef Rahmen proposes an independent game fair to the VUD. It wasn’t until 1996 that Leipzig opened a brand new site, the New Fair, neat and modern, with the largest glass hall in Europe. That wants to be filled with modern content.

And: The people of Leipzig are interested in a games fair. One of the first new foundations after the fall of the wall, still on the old site of the Monument to the Battle of the Nations, was the computer fair BIK in 1992. At the end of the nineties there was a conference of internet cafes, first regionally, then internationally. And for the up-and-coming gaming industry, CeBIT Home would only be a temporary solution anyway. You don’t want to be an appendage to the computer industry, but want to have your own trade fair with sales of one billion euros in Germany.