January 10, 2022 – In a big industry shake up move, Spielwarenmesse eG takes ownership of top European Board Game Convention SPIEL. Essen Spiel is one of the biggest events in the board game world and is where the Spiel des Jahres award, one of the most prestigious best board game of the year awards, is given out each year. It typically runs in late October of each year.
The convention originally started 40 years ago and has always run independently. Friedhelm Merz Verlag GmbH & Co KG hs been overseeing it and under this new agreement, the entire management team will continue to helm the event.
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Spielwarenmesse eG is not some evil corporation, they are a cooperative of many different owners in the field. It originally set up way back in 1950 and has been about doing things in the best interest of the board game community. The whole idea of this move was to make sure the character of the world’s largest consumer fair for the industry would be preserved.
Spielwarenmesse eG takes over the Internationale Spieltage SPIEL event in Essen on 1 January 2022. The Nuremberg trade fair and marketing services provider thus becomes the new owner of the biggest public fair for board games in the world. SPIEL will continue to be held at the Essen exhibition centre and organised from Bonn by Dominique Metzler, its director of many years’ standing, and her highly experienced team. Florian Hess, Member of the Executive Board of Spielwarenmesse eG, serves as an additional director.
SPIEL has a history stretching back nearly 40 years. The event has developed from a small gathering of players in 1983 to what is today the largest consumer fair in the world for board, card and role-playing games. Traditionally, new national and international games products are introduced to a broad audience at the Essen exhibition centre in the autumn. Every year the event has some 200,000 visitors – and the numbers have been growing.
“It was important to me to retain the unique profile of SPIEL for the future,” says Dominique Metzler, who with Rosemarie Geu successfully established and built up her family business over recent decades. “I am very pleased to have found in Spielwarenmesse eG, with its experience in worldbeating fairs, a partner that can continue and further develop the success of this fair on my model for the coming decades as well. My team and I are delighted to be working alongside them.”
The pandemic has given an additional boost to the popularity of board games. In 2020, the German games market alone grew by 21%. This is a trend that is also apparent in the B2B sector at the Spielwarenmesse. The Internationale Spieleerfindermesse – Game Inventors Convention is being integrated into the Spielwarenmesse, further strengthening the games business area. The Nuremberg organisers are promising a similarly cautious approach where the SPIEL games fair is concerned, but in this case as a separate event that will be maintained in its original form.
As a cooperative, Spielwarenmesse eG already functions “from the industry, for the industry”. Its member businesses include numerous games publishers. As Christian Ulrich, Spokesperson for the Executive Board, is keen to stress, “In the Spielwarenmesse and the SPIEL games fair we have two entirely different concepts, but those concepts intersect powerfully in terms of subject matter, creating plenty of synergies. With SPIEL, we are expanding our responsibilities in the business area for games, without changing the typical character of the fair.” Its survival has been ensured and visitors to Essen can continue to try games out and play to their hearts’ content.