Gamescom 2021: How to watch, date and start time, and what to expect

Gamescom Image
Gamescom Image (Image credit: Gamescom)

2021 has been a fascinating year for video games, and has been filled with a myriad of delays, announcements and updates, new game releases, and much more. Marking our progress through the year has been several major video game events, and the next one is just around the corner. Gamescom is returning for another year, once again in an all-digital format, and it's bringing along with it dozens of partners like Xbox, Ubisoft, EA, and more.

Here's what you need to know about watching Gamescom 2021, and what you should expect.

What is Gamescom 2021?

Gamescom is a video game conference similar to E3, and in the past was a large convention where thousands of players and press could flock to witness the latest developments in video games. Because of the ongoing global pandemic and changing circumstances, Gamescom made the transition to an all-digital format last year, instead becoming a platform for video game companies and developers to announce their latest projects and connect with their fans.

Gamescom is returning in 2021, and will be hosted by none other than Geoff Keighley. This time around, Gamescom 2021 is boasting dozens of different partners that will make their presence known over the three-day period (four, if you count the early Xbox event). Players can expect new looks at some of the biggest games coming later this year, as well as a sneak peek at what the future may include.

The games that appear at Gamescom 2021 might be headed to any modern gaming platform, including Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, PS5, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.

How do I watch Gamescom 2021?

Officially, Gamescom 2021 begins Wednesday, Aug. 25, and ends Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. Of course, the all-digital event isn't going to comprise of one neverending stream, and instead will be a three-day period in which Gamescom partners can host their own streams, announce new projects, and give their communities updates and news. Gamescom 2021 technically kicks off with the "Opening Night Live" stream hosted by Geoff Keighley, but Xbox is making an appearance at Gamescom 2021 as one of the biggest single partners with a separate stream the day before.

Here's how you can watch all the major events we know of in Gamescom 2021, and a bit of what you can expect from them.

Opening Night Live

Gamescom Opening Night Live

Source: Gamescom (Image credit: Source: Gamescom)

Gamescom 2021 officially begins with Opening Night Live, a two-hour long stream that's being hosted by noted industry insider Geoff Keighley. Opening Night Light begins Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. PT / 2:00 p.m. ET / 8:00 p.m. CET, and will likely feature appearances from a ton of official Gamescom 2021 partners.

Here's where you can watch Opening Night Live:

What to expect

Opening Night Live is the centerpiece of Gamescom 2021, so it makes sense that the two-hour stream will be packed to the brim with game updates and announcements. Players and viewers should expect game demos and trailers for some of the biggest games coming out in 2021, as well as a sneak peek at the future of video games with new reveals and more. Gamescom 2021 is boasting of an impressive list of partners this time around, any of which can make an appearance during Opening Night Live.

Some of Gamescom 2021's partners that might show up at ONL include:

  • Electronic Arts
  • Ubisoft
  • Bandai Namco
  • SEGA
  • 505 Games
  • And more

Opening Night Live may not be as heavy on the sheer level of reveals and world premiers as E3 2021 was, but players who are excited for a particular upcoming game might get to see more of it during ONL at Gamescom 2021.


Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

The day before Gamescom 2021, Xbox is hosting its own event, hosted by Parris Lilly and Kate Yeager. The Gamescom 2021 Xbox event begins Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. PT / 1:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CET, and will likely focus on already-announced games from Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda Softworks, likely joining the list of the best Xbox games you can play.

Here's where you can watch the Gamescom 2021 Xbox event:

What to expect

We're expecting to see updates and announcements from Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda Softworks. Don't expect any big new game reveals during the event, as Xbox will be focused on in-depth dives into some of the best upcoming Xbox games instead. This means we might see highly anticipated titles like Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5, possibly with new gameplay footage and possibly even demos. It also means the event should be more tame than previous Xbox events this year.

Some fans may be disappointed by the stripped-back Gamescom 2021 Xbox event after the incredibly busy Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase at E3 2021, but Xbox is now focused on driving home how special its current lineup of upcoming games really is.

Future Games Show

Future Games Show Gamescom

Source: Future (Image credit: Source: Future)

The Future Games Show is making another stop in 2021 at Gamescom, once again hosted by GamesRadar. The Future Games Show at Gamescom 2021 begins Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. PT / 4:00 p.m. ET / 10:00 p.m. CET, and will likely feature appearances from indie developers and publishers. It'll be hosted by actor Maggie Robertson (Lady Dimitrescu from Resident Evil Village) and voice actor Aaron LePlante (The Duke from Resident Evil Village).

Here's where you can watch the Future Games Show at Gamescom 2021:

What to expect

The Future Games Show is a haven for indie developers and publishers that need a platform to showcase their work, and the event is returning in Gamescom 2021 with a new batch of partners. Players should expect appearances from partners like Koch Media, Team17, Frontier Developments, Tripwire Interactive, and more. While we're not likely to see any surprise announcements from "AAA" games, the Future Games Show may have a few surprises up its sleeve that makes the show worth watching.

Like other events at Gamescom 2021, the focus at the Future Games Show will probably be mostly on games arriving later this year, with a sneak peek at what's coming beyond.

Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.