Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) has come to an end, and if one thing’s clear, gaming in the living room is no longer a sit-on-your-duff experience. At least, that’s the impression you’d be left with by walking the E3 floor and reading the mainstream press coverage. Four years after Nintendo first showed the Wii concept (then known as project “Revolution”), the rest of the industry is playing catchup.
The biggest buzz of the week surrounded Microsoft‘s formerly code named project “Natal” – the console maker formally announced the newly named Kinect, a camera-based gameplay system where the body IS the controller. No gamepad, wand or numchuck. Just you and your hands, feet, head and hips interacting with your TV. Very cool product, technology and experience. There were seemingly endless demos of exercise and dance games. Many were intriguing. Some of them were more of the same.
All three of the consoles now have one thing in common – a control scheme that requires users to get up off the couch to compete. All this certainly lends itself to new kinds of games, and ultimately the industry is hoping, new kinds of gamers (beyond what Wii has already done).
A guess: 60 percent of the dollars spent at the show by gaming companies focused around this active gaming opportunity (and probably an even higher percentage of media coverage) – perhaps an over-reaction to the trend. If you got caught up in it, you might just have missed that some of the biggest game franchises are back with new releases, and some interesting new technologies may impact how the game experience is delivered to the home. Before I give my burnt retinas and swollen ear drums a rest, I wanted to share some of those things that caught our attention:
- Sony’s hotly anticipated Gran Turismo 5 will launch on November 2 – great news for petrolheads, especially those who have been playing GT5 Prologue with our own Logitech Driving Force GT for over two years. In addition to its realistic driving experience, the game delivers absolutely stunning visual detail. Also, the game will have a 3D mode. Very satisfying to see the lines to take first laps at the Sony demo stations, which featured our force-feedback wheel.
- At its booth, Electronic Arts gave gamers a first taste of the true-to-life military shooter Medal of Honor (October 12 launch; multi-platform), a long-standing franchise that with this release focuses on the story of military specialist Tier 1 operators. EA’s booth was also jam-packed with folks waiting to get inside mini-theaters for first looks at sequels Crysis 2 (including 3D) and Dead Space 2.
- F.E.A.R. 3 – The always creepy survival shooter is back this fall with the third edition. This time publisher Warner Brothers Games is promising more scares then ever – and a new co-op mode. Should be good just before bedtime.
- Activision was notably absent from the show floor – the company instead kicked off E3 on Monday night with a massive concert/event at the Staples center, featuring a hodgepodge of celebs including Usher, Eminem, Tony Hawk, Travis Barker and more. During the actual expo, the world’s No. 1 game publisher got down to business with a series of meeting rooms around the convention center – but no public booth.
- Bethesda rolled out its next-gen post-apocalyptic role-playing shooter Fallout: New Vegas and futuristic shooter Rage, which is drawing early comparisons to bio-thriller Mass Effect. While demos were only shown by invite and behind closed doors, both are capturing a lot of attention.
- OnLive launched its first-generation cloud-based gaming service for PC/Mac. The games all live on the Internet, which means you can play a lot of top titles with a subscription without having a super souped-up gaming-rig (you do need a wired 5 mbps Internet connection, HD resolution monitor, and dual-core processor) or expensive consoles. The company is planning a living-room gaming device that will connect directly to your TV and provide access to the same online library.