UPDATE 5pm: Following its brisk tweet earlier today, Gamescom's organisational team has now formally confirmed the cancellation of this year's live show.
"It's official," organisers wrote in a statement posted to Twitter, "Gamescom will under no circumstances take place on site in Cologne this year. Just like many of you, we are disappointed, because, as the Gamescom team, we have been working on a wonderful Gamescom 2020 for months, just like the many exhibitors. However, it is also quite clear to us that, in the face of the corona pandemic, we must stand united. This means that we must all be considerate of each other and reduce the risk of infection."
"We are, however, already working at full speed on a digital Gamescom," the statement continues, elaborating on today's earlier tweet, "It is, after all, the world's biggest event for games, and that's what it should be again this year. You can already look forward to how we will celebrate the best games and Gamescom together with you and million of gamers worldwide at the end of August, even if it will only be digital and not on location this time. Because one thing is certain: this year too, Gamescom is and will remain 'The Heart of Gaming'".
Organisers say those who've already purchased tickets for this year's show will have them refunded in the coming weeks, and will not need to do anything further. More details on Gamescom's digital event will also be revealed soon.
UPDATE 16/04/20: After the German government announced all large gatherings would be banned throughout August, Gamescom's organisers have confirmed the 2020 show will "definitely take place digitally".
Plans were already in place to offer a "significantly expanded" digital show, including existing digital formats such as Gamescom Opening Night Live. Details on the digital event currently remain light, but further information is due to be revealed shortly.
? Even though not all details are known at present, the nationwide ban on major events until the end of August will also affect the planning for #gamescom2020. Furthermore: gamescom 2020 will definitely take place digitally! We will provide further information shortly. ?— gamescom (@gamescom) April 15, 2020
ORIGINAL STORY 15/04/20: It seems this year's Gamescom will not be taking place as usual, as major events are being prohibited until 31st August as part of the German government's coronavirus response.
The news comes from the German Press Agency (via Süddeutsche Zeitung), which says the German Prime Minister and Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to prohibit all large events at a conference earlier today. Specific regulations concerning the size of events are due to be made by the federal states, but given Gamescom pulled in over 370k visitors in 2018, I think it's fair to say it will be included in the ban.
Gamescom had previously announced plans to continue preparations for its 2020 event "as planned", albeit while following the recommendations of the authorities. Gamescom is yet to publicly comment on the latest development, but it previously promised a "significantly-expanded" digital show, which may now form the entirety of Gamescom 2020. If the event is indeed cancelled by Koelnmesse, ticket holders will be reimbursed.
A short update on the current situation:— gamescom (@gamescom) March 16, 2020
The Cologne-based show is only the latest in a long line of gaming events to be affected by social distancing measures: GDC, E3 and EGX Rezzed include just some of the major events to have been cancelled or delayed.