Boardgames in the News: Management Changes SPIEL at Essen

The International Spieltage, SPIEL, sometimes known simply as “Essen”, began in 1983 as the “Deutsche Spielertage” (German Games Fair), a gathering of readers of a specialized gaming magazine.  At the time there were just twelve invited exhibitors and the event was held at the Essen College of Further Education.  The following year, however, there were fifteen thousand visitors and in 1985 the event moved to the “Gruga” Messe Essen Exhibition Center.  It has been there ever since, and in 2019 there were a reported one thousand two hundred exhibitors and over two hundred thousand visitors.

Essen 2019
– Image by boardGOATS

After the partition of Germany, in 1949, four toy manufacturers held a German toy fair in Nuremberg. The following year the exhibition committee and forty-six firms established a cooperative to run the fair, called SpielwarenmesseIt has recently been announced that the Spielwarenmesse cooperative has now acquired Friedhelm Merz Verlag GmbH, the company that runs SPIEL, the largest games fair in Europe, with the deal taking effect from the start of 2022.  Spielwarenmesse is currently run by around a hundred and fifty companies and has been developing its portfolio recently having also acquired the Internationale Spieleerfindermesse or Game Inventors’ Fair. The company additionally manage trade fairs in China, India and Russia.

Spielwarenmesse Logo
– Image by

In the press release, Spielwarenmesse state they intend to preserve the character of SPIEL which will remain at the Messe in Essen with Dominique Metzler continuing as director with Florian Hess from Spielwarenmesse, as a co-director.  Christian Ulrich, Spokesperson for the Executive Board of Spielwarenmesse is quoted as saying, “With SPIEL, we are expanding our responsibilities in the business area for games, without changing the typical character of the fair.”

Essen 2022
– Image from