A one-minute trailer in Gamescom's Opening Night Live is worth €125,000 (~$127,600), according to Gamescom itself. That's the price listed for "partners"—aka sponsors—to secure a spot in the opening livestream hosted by Geoff Keighley, which last year ran for two hours and included more than 30 games.
There's nothing unusual about sponsors paying to have their games featured in a big showcase like Opening Night Live. If you've watched a few livestreams of this type, you've probably picked up on certain games that kept popping up in a clear concerted marketing push (I'm looking at you, Blankos Block Party).
What is unique is the price for that sponsorship to be public information: as spotted by Start Menu's Lex Luddy, Gamescom lists the prices for Opening Night Live trailer spots on a publicly accessible B2B page. A 30 second spot starts at €85,000, though you get the most bang for your buck with a 90-second spot for €165,000.
I reached out to Keighley and Gamescom with a few questions about the rates, and what percentage of Opening Night Live is made up of sponsored segments. Gamescom declined to answer specifically, but did say that the majority of games featured in the show are included for free. Other events, including our own PC Gaming Show, work the same way, with the majority of games being editorial inclusions and others being paid sponsors. These events cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to my colleague Evan Lahti, PC Gamer's Global Editor-in-Chief, in order to pay for talent, cameras, studio time, motion graphics, crew, travel, and as we did one year, an animatronic robot to co-host the show.
The price of a segment in Opening Night Live looks steep, but that's not even the full cost of participating in a big industry event like Gamescom. This year it's only available to "partners" who already have a presence at the in-person Gamescom event, which is also pricey. The cheapest option for showing a game to consumers, a "terrace stand" on the show floor, costs €149.50 per square meter of space, though you get a bit of a discount if your stand takes up more than 500 or 1,000 square meters.
Oh, and if you want the "digital partner package" to use the Gamescom branding online or participate in things like the "Gamescom Steam cooperation and other platform partnerships," that's another €900. Gamescom does note that it has "special rates for indies available," but it's clearly majorly expensive to attend these sorts of large scale events, even if you aren't dropping fat stacks to appear in a livestream. You can see the full breakdown in this Gamescom 2022 PDF.
With E3 returning as an in-person public event in 2023, you can bet it'll be similarly costly for game developers to attend. In 2020, Reedpop, the PAX organizer that will now also be running E3, hoped to get publishers like Microsoft and Sony to pay $250,000 to have a deluxe digital "booth" during the online-only event. According to Virtualeconcast's analysis, the priciest digital booth Reedpop actually sold was $18,500.