Cologne (or Köln in German) is another city I've visited regularly over the years. It is the fourth largest city in Germany and the home of the massive Cologne Cathedral. Although Cologne was the most heavily bombed city in World War II, the cathedral surprisingly survived. Cologne is a major cultural center of the Rhineland with more than thirty museums and hundreds of galleries. In August, it is also host to one of the largest video game conventions in the world.
This is the first time that I've come to Cologne for pleasure not business. I was not rushing from one hall to another for back-to-back meetings. I came with no agenda and no new product or platform to pitch. I was not obligated to close any new deals or partnerships. For once, I was able to explore Cologne as a visitor and stroll through the streets.
Weather in Cologne can be hit or miss even for August. One year, it just rained every single day. Another year, it was blue skies and sunny. Luckily, there was no cloud in sight. As northern Germany experiences some brutally cold winters, the locals take advantage when it's warm. Outdoor tables and chairs are abundant in most of the town squares, so the residents and visitors can have their Kölsch (German beer native to region) while basking in the sun.
Looking at the gargantuan Dom ("cathedral" in German) really never gets old. Walking across the bridge and reading the romantic messages on the colorful locks is definitely a treat. I also found a great cappuccino at hommage Cafe near the ring surrounding the inner city.
When I was having dinner with some industry friends, a few asked if I would be attending any of the late night social events. I shook my head and said "no." I had no FOMO (translation = "fear of missing out"). At that moment, I knew that it was time for me to step away from games and tech. Although the games industry is still on track to generate $100B+, not everything is as rosy as it seems. Revenue is concentrated among the incumbent companies. The industry suffers from a lack of creativity and innovation with the proliferation of me-too products with little soul. There are still exceptions to the rule which gives me some hope. Nonetheless, I predict the majority of small game companies will struggle next year, and many will not exist 18 months from now. I am stepping back because I want to have a better view of the possibilities and opportunities that others may have missed. Why focus so much effort in a crowded sandbox when I can build a sandbox of my own?
This is the question that I continue to ponder over during my time off. Fortunately, I've started to narrow down my opportunities from hundred to a few. Now it is time for me to dive a little deeper in each area and see where I could go.