E3 Predictions for Sony, Microsoft: More Hardware, Games, VR

At E3 2016 next week, Sony will come to the show having sold over 40 million PlayStation 4 consoles, outselling Microsoft’s Xbox One, by two-to-one. The company plans to debut a more powerful console, a virtual reality headset, and numerous first-party games. Microsoft, meanwhile, plans to launch a wide range of new Xbox hardware this year, beginning with, rumors have it, a slimmer, smaller version of the current Xbox One. In addition to new consoles, Microsoft will show off HoloLens and debut new games. Continue reading E3 Predictions for Sony, Microsoft: More Hardware, Games, VR

E3 Loses Exhibitors as Publishers and Gamers Connect Online

When the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) opens its doors in Los Angeles next week, some familiar game publishers will be missing for the first time. Electronic Arts has opted to hold its own mini-expo, Activision did not take a booth this year, and Disney is exiting the video game publishing business. That’s big news for E3, the industry’s premiere trade show that draws 50,000 video game industry members and historically has been the site of major title unveilings and celebrity appearances. Some ask whether E3 might be losing its luster. Continue reading E3 Loses Exhibitors as Publishers and Gamers Connect Online

YouTube Rolls Out Dedicated Gaming Hub to Take on Twitch

YouTube launched its centralized hub for gaming this week, a new competitor to Amazon’s Twitch that features live and recorded video content about popular games. YouTube Gaming is available for game fans on mobile (Android, iOS) and the Web and offers more than 25,000 dedicated pages. The service automatically populates all gaming content from YouTube’s community, and Google is appealing to video creators by promising to make it simpler to livestream their games. Gaming-related video content has exploded in popularity, and is now second only to music. Continue reading YouTube Rolls Out Dedicated Gaming Hub to Take on Twitch

Perspective: In Reality, VR Not the Only Game at E3 (Part 2)

In Part 2 of our E3 overview, we look at the featured products and emergence of virtual reality. E3 operates with a familiar orchestration: Press events, lavish floor displays and private parties with big name bands. The Who, for instance, entertained guests of Electronic Arts. The layout of the exhibit floor gathers the platform players — Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo — in the Convention Center’s West Hall and fills the South Hall with the major game developers. In a sign of where VR leader Oculus fits into the spectrum, its booth anchored a prominent corner of the platform-centric West Hall. Continue reading Perspective: In Reality, VR Not the Only Game at E3 (Part 2)

Perspective: In Reality, VR Not the Only Game at E3 (Part 1)

If you were not at E3, the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo, you might think that the great expanse of the Los Angeles Convention Center was wall-to-wall virtual reality. Despite VR’s headline domination, it was a different story on the floor where impressive visuals and sophisticated gameplay ignited the crowd. Even jaded game industry media could not contain their excitement. As IGN enthused after the Sony press conference, for instance, “That may be the best E3 press event ever.” We divided our overview into two parts: the evolution of E3 and direction of the gaming industry, followed by a breakdown of this year’s top products. Continue reading Perspective: In Reality, VR Not the Only Game at E3 (Part 1)

After Google Bows Out, Amazon Moves In to Acquire Twitch

In recent months, we reported that Google was planning to acquire popular streaming platform Twitch.tv for more than $1 billion. However, Google was unable to close the deal, reportedly due to concern over antitrust issues related to its streaming video site YouTube. It looks like Google’s loss is now Amazon’s gain. Yesterday, Amazon confirmed that it is purchasing San Francisco-based Twitch, which touts more than 50 million monthly users, for approximately $970 million in cash. Continue reading After Google Bows Out, Amazon Moves In to Acquire Twitch

E3 2014: Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus Lead VR Revolution

Two virtual reality headsets are generating the most attention at the E3 confab in Los Angeles this week — Facebook’s Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus. Both are expected to launch commercially during 2015, and may represent a significant business opportunity for producers of immersive entertainment. In addition to the gaming community, Hollywood is expressing strong interest. In fact, many media producers see VR as the next big revolution in entertainment. Continue reading E3 2014: Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus Lead VR Revolution

E3 2014: Nintendo Unveils New Games, Experimental Robots

In the wake of Wii U struggles, Nintendo hopes its E3 announcements this week will please company loyalists and possibly help generate new fans. The company introduced new figurines with NFC chips that will work with its video games. It also announced integration of custom Mii avatars for the upcoming “Super Smash Bros.” fighting game, a new “Legend of Zelda” game coming to the Wii U in 2015, a kid-friendly shooting game called “Splatoon,” and a variety of other new and experimental game titles. Continue reading E3 2014: Nintendo Unveils New Games, Experimental Robots

E3 2014: Electronic Arts Puts Focus on Conceptual Prototypes

In addition to games it plans to produce this year, Electronic Arts offered a glimpse of the future at its E3 press conference. CEO Andrew Wilson promised “raw prototypes of what’s to come over the next few years” and “thoughtful reflections on what’s inspiring the future.” Early prototype footage was shown for “Star Wars Battlefront” from DICE, a new game in the “Mass Effect” series from BioWare, and an unnamed first-person game with helicopters, motorcycles and skydiving from Criterion. Continue reading E3 2014: Electronic Arts Puts Focus on Conceptual Prototypes

E3 2014: $99 Game-Streamer PlayStation TV Coming to U.S.

During its E3 press conference yesterday in Los Angeles, Sony announced that the PlayStation TV device is coming to North America this fall for $99 as a standalone, or for $139 bundled with a DualShock Controller, an 8GB memory card for storing downloaded games, and a copy of “The Lego Movie” video game. Users can pair the set-top box with their PlayStation 4 console for remote play on a second television. Video and music streaming services will be accessible, as will games via PlayStation Now. Continue reading E3 2014: $99 Game-Streamer PlayStation TV Coming to U.S.

E3 2014: Microsoft Places Emphasis on Games at Xbox Event

At yesterday’s Xbox briefing, Microsoft took a different approach by focusing its entire E3 presentation on games. Traditionally, the event has included other media functionality of Xbox hardware, but this year Phil Spencer, the new head of Xbox, noted that changes to strategy were necessary for the Xbox One — changes initiated by user response to the (formerly) always-online, DRM-heavy console. The event included major titles, trailers of previously announced games and a slate of indie titles. Continue reading E3 2014: Microsoft Places Emphasis on Games at Xbox Event

CBS and GameSpot to Offer Extensive E3 Coverage in June

CBS Interactive’s GameSpot.com announced its plans yesterday for comprehensive coverage of next month’s E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo). The coverage will feature more than 100 hours of original live and on-demand programming from the Los Angeles Convention Center in addition to on-air integration with CBS Television stations. This marks the first time GameSpot will produce pre-show programming for a television audience. Continue reading CBS and GameSpot to Offer Extensive E3 Coverage in June

E3 2011: Nintendo Unveils Wii U Controller and 3DS Updates

Nintendo chose its E3 Expo presentation to provide a much anticipated first look at the new Wii U controller in addition to a system update and new 3D games for its $250 3DS handheld gaming device released earlier this year.

The Wii U controller combines a 6.2-inch touchscreen, traditional inputs and motion control functionality. The wireless device will support full HD graphics (a first for Nintendo) and is backward compatible with all Wii games and accessories. Interesting features include a microphone, gyroscope, accelerometer, front-facing camera and stylus. Even though it shares a number of characteristics with other handheld devices, the Wii U controller was not designed to serve as a portable gaming device. However, users will be able to game and video chat (even without a television). By adding another screen to the home entertainment experience, Nintendo is hoping to redefine “how the TV, the game console and the Internet function and interact together.”

According to the Nintendo press release: “Previously, video games played on a home console have been confined to the TV and offered identical viewpoints to each player in a multiplayer environment. Furthermore, watching TV and playing console games have been completely separate experiences. The new controller removes these boundaries, creating a more dynamic and fluid gaming and entertainment experience.”

Gamers can use the controller to zoom in on television images and to interact with games that appear on both the controller and TV screens. In a video demo of the system, Nintendo showed a player sending a throwing star from the controller’s touchscreen to the TV screen across the room with a swipe of his finger, as if the weapon actually flew through the air. The Wii U has similar functionality when connected to the Internet, allowing users to essentially “throw” photos or videos from the controller onto the television screen.

The dynamic of adding an additional screen to the gaming experience in the controller is difficult to explain in words, so Engadget has posted a 5-minute video demo of multi-player gaming (produced by the Nintendo Network). And Nintendo’s compelling 4-minute Wii U video from the E3 presentation is available on YouTube. It illustrates capabilities of the new device including video chats, drawing with a stylus, motion control functionality, browsing, TV interaction (even with the virtual space beyond the TV screen) and more. Additional video footage of the Nintendo E3 presentation is available on the CNET channel on YouTube.

Although specific pricing and availability was not announced at E3, the Wii U is expected to have a mid- to late-2012 release. Screen resolution was also not specified, but the display ratio is 16:9.

The company also announced a new system upgrade to its glasses-free, portable 3D device, the Nintendo 3DS (that launched March 27). Users who connect via a wireless Internet connection and install the update will have access to the Nintendo eShop, which features downloadable games and applications using a cash-based system. According to the site, gamers can access “3D games, classic games remade in 3D, and legendary titles from the Game Boy system — plus more. View webpages right from your Nintendo 3DS system, including the ability to view 3D images on the Internet where applicable.”

Nintendo also announced its initiatives to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda: “A re-mastered 3D version of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time launches for Nintendo 3DS on June 19, while Wii owners will see the arrival of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword in the 2011 holiday season.”

For the duration of the E3 Expo, fans can visit the Nintendo Network online to watch developer interviews, get information about new games and see coverage from the show floor.

Related CNET article: “E3 2011: Nintendo’s new Wii U set for 2012” (6/7/11)

Related Engadget post (with press release and videos): “The Wii U controller, revealed!” (6/7/11)

Related CNN Tech article: “Nintendo unveils the Wii U system” (6/7/11)

Related USA Today article: “Nintendo unveils Wii U, with a touch-screen display” (6/7/11)

Related Yahoo! Games article: “Nintendo debuts Wii U” (6/7/11)

Related Xbit Laboratories news: “AMD and IBM Confirm Work on Chips for Nintendo Wii U” (6/7/11)

Related ABC News article (comparing announcements from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft): “Wii 2: Nintendo Wii U Video Game Console Debuts at E3 Expo” (6/7/11)

E3 2011: Pre-Show Announcements from Sony and Microsoft

The 3-day Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) kicks off today at the Los Angeles Convention Center. E3 is a professional trade event with a focus on electronic gaming (no longer open to the general public) that draws CE manufacturers, business partners, news media and industry analysts from 80 countries. Yesterday’s pre-show press events featured some interesting announcements from Sony and Microsoft. Today, the big news should come from Nintendo, when it unveils its next-gen Wii console (watch it live starting at 9:00 AM PDT).

Microsoft began by introducing new Xbox 360 features and games (Microsoft has sold 55 million Xbox 360s globally to-date, thanks in part to the successful Kinect motion sensor technology). Next up: voice-activated search via Bing will be available for the Xbox enabling users to sort through Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and other sites via voice commands, minimizing the need for the remote control. “You no longer have to navigate through the menus to find content,” said Mark Whitten, corporate VP of Xbox Live.

Whitten also announced that the Xbox will incorporate a live TV service in the fall. Few details were offered, other than to say that more content partners will soon be added. For the gamers, Microsoft premiered the trailer for the next installment of the Halo video game series, which expects a 2012 release (Gamespot has the trailer plus an interesting commentary). Microsoft also demonstrated new games and innovations utilizing its Kinect technology.

Sony began its Monday evening press conference with an apology to customers, video game developers and retailers regarding the recent hacker attacks that hit 70 million user accounts. Jack Tretton, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, explained that activity on the PlayStation Network is now back up to 90 percent from what it was prior to the data breach.

Tretton also discussed the PlayStation’s growing success as the leading Netflix streamer (according to Sony, the PS3 accounts for 30 percent of video streamed via the service). Engadget reports this should come as no surprise: “…consoles far outpace other TV connected streamers in install base, and between the Xbox 360, Wii, and Sony’s box, the PS3 is the only one that lets you watch without an additional subscription and in HD.” In addition to the Netflix news, Sony announced a new partnership that will provide access via the PS3 to more than 12,000 video on-demand movies and TV shows from Best Buy-owned CinemaNow.

Sony also showcased a collection of 3D products and games, including an interesting new product bundle that features a 24-inch active shutter 3D display and 3D glasses. Engadget noted in its initial hands-on eval: “The dual-full-screen trick will only work with PlayStation 3 games specifically programmed to make use of the feature, and although none have been announced yet, we wouldn’t be surprised if pack-in title Resistance 3 is compatible. Staff couldn’t say if the games featured in the demo video, Motorstorm Apocalypse and Wipeout, would be updated to support this feature. While the demo units we saw performed their trick reasonably well, visible ghosting and flat, muted colors give us some reservations about that competitive $499 price tag.”

Sony’s biggest announcement, however, was its new handheld device, PSP follow-up the PlayStation Vita. Touting a 5-inch multitouch OLED display with rear touch pad (and front and rear cameras), the Vita will sell for $249.99 (Wi-Fi-only) and $299.99 (Wi-Fi/3G). Engadget was especially impressed with the “monstrous” OLED display and the dual analog sticks (“they completely blow away the original PSP’s analog nub”). Both models will be available exclusively through AT&T toward the end of 2011.

Related Engadget post: “Microsoft sells 55 million Xbox 360 consoles, claims that’s consoles history” (6/3/11)

Related CNET post: “E3 2011: Live TV coming to Xbox this fall” (6/6/11)

Related PC Magazine article: “E3: Sony Apologizes for Outage, Pitches 3D Display, PS Vita” (6/6/11)

Related Engadget post: “Sony’s 24-inch PlayStation 3D display first hands-on!” (6/7/11)

Related Digital Trends article: “Sony 3D Display could revolutionize 2D gaming” (6/7/11)

Related Engadget post: “PS3 claims the lead in Netflix streaming, adds VOD from Best Buy’s CinemaNow” (6/6/11)

Related Engadget update (with videos): “Sony’s PlayStation Vita: a closer look (update: burning questions answered)” (6/7/11)

Related Engadget post: “Sony’s PlayStation Vita official: $249 for WiFi, $299 for 3G” (6/6/11)

Related Engadget post: “Sony’s PlayStation Vita: first hands-on impressions” (6/6/11)

Related Wired article: “With New Hardware Far Away, E3 Expo is Thin on Innovation” (6/3/11)