As a journalist and content producer, Geoff Keighley has often used his unique industry access to provide a look behind the game industry curtain. He’s been responsible for The Final Hours series of in-depth non-fiction on the development of AAA games, including the likes of Portal 2 and Mass Effect 3, as well as taking part in other investigative reporting for mass media outlets like Kotaku, GameTrailers, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Fortune and more.
Keighley has also been involved with the video game industry and live shows since 1994, when he first wrote lines for celebrity hosts like William Shatner, who read for Cybermania ’94: The Ultimate Games Awards on TBS. He later became a lead anchor for E3 coverage, as well as spending time as host and producer for Spike’s Video Game Awards and then later his own The Game Awards, an Oscars-like showcase of games industry talent.
For the last few years, Keighley has also produced and hosted Opening Night Live, a gamescom-focused showcase of what the video game industry will have to offer in the months to come. Ahead of this year’s gamescom Opening Night Live showcase, he took the time to tell us about how, when and why the live show happens.
You’re no stranger to industry events, and were for a long time the face of E3. How did you get involved with gamescom?
I’ve attended gamescom many times over the past decade, but the genesis of ONL started when Felix Falk from game, the German video game industry group, reached out to me. I remember meeting him in LA just a few weeks before The Game Awards in 2018. In that meeting he expressed interest in partnering to create a digital announcement show for gamescom. Gamescom was ahead of the curve in realizing the power and opportunity of growing their brand into a truly digital, global experience for fans.
Why take part in gamescom at all – what makes it preferable to doing say, Autumn Game Fest?
Gamescom is a really well run event – and it’s on a massive scale. I love that we make this show as part of a week-long celebration of games. I love that we get to go to Europe to make this in Germany. Gaming is a truly global business and there are lots of teams and fans in Europe. I always feel bad The Game Awards airs so late at night in Europe, so this is a show we program specifically for Europe-friendly times!
What, in your mind, makes Opening Night Live different from your other events, Summer Game Fest and The Game Awards?
Each show has its own unique signature and space in the calendar. Summer Game Fest kicks off announcements in that traditional June period; Game Awards is very much a year end wrap that’s 50/50 awards and first looks. Gamescom ONL sits in the middle as a great way to update fans on what’s coming for the holidays and beyond, and it’s great that this event is part of the world’s largest in-person video game celebration.
What makes these in-person events important from a consumer standpoint? Why do them instead of a Nintendo Direct-type video?
I love the energy of a live crowd of fans – and the stagecraft that comes from doing something that’s truly LIVE. There’s a danger and energy to a 100% live show that really fuels the excitement and hype.
Without getting into the ONL line-up itself, what can we expect from this year’s show that makes it better than the ones that have come before?
It’s going to be a busy and exciting ONL this year. We have some really exciting games and guests on stage – and it’s a really global show, with lots of internationally developed titles. ONL is a show less about new game announcements and more about updating fans on big, anticipated games.