The gaming industry’s E3 conference is under way. Like previous years, the show has delivered on its promise of showing off what gaming developers and hardware makers have planned for the next year or two. The show is once again dominated by the gaming big three-Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft-each taking the stage to show off some new technologies. They have also unleashed details on a slew of games that will be making their way to their respective consoles in the coming months.
And while E3 is still not over, there is a good amount of news that has already come out of the show. Some headlines might excite gamers, while others might fall short. But in either case, the following items will shape the gaming industry going forward, both from a hardware and a software perspective. Here are some of the events that have headlined E3 2010 so far.
1. Microsoft has major exclusives, new console
When Microsoft took the E3 stage on Monday, it announced several exclusives that should help it sell more consoles. According to the company, Halo Reach will be coming exclusively to the Xbox 360 later this year. It will also be the exclusive home of Gears of War 3 and Fable III, two titles that promise to be major successes. Microsoft also announced a new Xbox 360, featuring a smaller footprint, a nicer design and a 250GB hard drive. It comes with Wireless-N connectivity included. It’s being offered for $299.
2. The year of motion
Motion gaming has taken center stage at E3 this year. Microsoft offered details on its new Kinect motion-gaming device, which will allow gamers to control on-screen action without a controller. It will even let players control the Xbox interface with their voices. Microsoft plans to launch Kinect in November. Sony, meanwhile, unveiled the PlayStation Move. The technology, which requires a peripheral to control, will ship in September. Sony’s PlayStation Move will retail for $49.99.
3. Nintendo takes a risk
Few companies have doubled down on 3D technology quite like Nintendo. The venerable firm announced the Nintendo 3DS, a follow-up to its DS handheld. But unlike most other 3D technologies that require glasses for users to get the full effect, 3DS owners will be able to play in 3D without any aids. Like the DS, the 3DS boasts two screens. The lower screen allows for touch capability, while the upper screen will deliver 3D gaming. Nintendo has yet to pinpoint a release date or price for the handheld.
4. Sony and the kitchen sink
Once again, Sony has decided to turn the PlayStation 3 into the single console that can do anything and everything for the owner. According to the company, it plans to launch a surround-sound speaker system to go along with the PlayStation 3. The all-in-one system will include a subwoofer and will ship worldwide in the fall at a price of $199. But who knows what the point of it is. Yes, home-theater systems can improve the game play experience, but is it really Sony’s job to make a PS3-branded speaker system? It’s a suspect move.
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5. Making the PS3 3D?
Sony has now made its console 3D-capable. Of course, such a move wasn’t much of a surprise. The company has been offering 3D technology in its Bravia line of HDTVs for the past few months. Its decision to offer 3D gaming only falls in line with its broader strategy of investing heavily in 3D technology. That said, it seems that it’s serious about making 3D an experience on the PlayStation 3. The company showed off a 3D version of its venerable franchise Killzone at E3. While Sony didn’t provide many details on its future plans, look for more 3D titles to come to the console in the coming months and years.
6. Sega makes a comeback
Sega’s Dreamcast is widely considered one of the best consoles ever released. Unfortunately, it was simply ahead of its time. Perhaps that’s why so many people are excited to hear that Sega will be bringing some of its best Dreamcast games to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network this year. So far, Sega has confirmed Sonic Adventure and Crazy Taxi as two titles that will be making their way to the digital-game libraries. Both titles are playable at E3 and, so far, the critics are happy with what they’re seeing.
7. GoldenEye 007 is back
GoldenEye 007, one of the first games to make multiplayer first-person shooters fun, is making a triumphant return to the Nintendo Wii. Set to be released this holiday season, the newly updated GoldenEye 007 will feature all the familiar multiplayer modes that made the game the classic that it is. But rather than leave Pierce Brosnan, who starred in the film version of “GoldenEye,” in the game, Nintendo announced that Daniel Craig, the current James Bond actor, will be starring in the title. For now, details on the game are limited, but old GoldenEye gamers are certainly looking forward to this title.
8. Big franchises make a showing
E3 is a place where developers can also make a big impact. And once again, major franchises have helped them achieve that. So far, Nintendo has shown off a new game in its famed Zelda franchise. Sony has offered up some details on Killzone 3. And all that fails to mention that Metal Gear Solid will finally be coming to the Xbox 360, Bungie is planning to release another Halo game later this year, and Peter Molyneux’s Fable franchise is preparing for a comeback. E3 has been home to some of the biggest and best franchises in gaming history. That should help industry sales later this year.
9. Few surprises
As attractive as some of the hardware and software look from E3, the show has so far been unable to deliver many surprises. To some, that might be a testament to today’s gaming companies’ inability to keep games secret from the press. But it might also be indicative of the issues the industry is facing. With so much money invested in the current consoles, hardware makers are having a tough time thinking out of the box. And since sequels are far more likely to turn a profit than new franchises, most game companies can’t justify too much free thought in game development. The days of surprises might be over in the gaming business.
10. Online gaming from Sony
As expected, Sony unveiled the PlayStation Plus, a paid online gaming service. Like Xbox Live Gold, the service will run $49.99 for the year. Those who want to use it in three-month spurts can pay $17.99 for access. For the most part, PlayStation Plus will be identical to what Microsoft offers with Xbox Live. Users can play games online, chat with others, download content and more. Those who sign up now can receive their first three months of gaming for free.