Connectivity is the official buzzword for this year’sÂ Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3. Two of the console giants and a major Japanese video game developer focused their shows on how to bring the high definition console experience on the go. In this age where social and iOS-Andriod-based games are exponentially expanding, how will the core gaming market cope?
This year’s E3 isn’t about motion control. It isn’t about more beautiful graphics nor about more powerful hardware. It’s not about innovation.
E3 2011 is all about “gaming on the go”. Gamers have always dreamed of experiencing console and PC gaming right at the palm of their hands. Today, the core gaming market is catching up to mobile phone gaming. Apps and games being available on demand is what makes Apple andÂ Android-based devices a step ahead of their core gaming counterparts. Mobile games like Angry Birds get the newest of players hooked into their mobile phones. And with a wide library of games from industry staples to independent games, players have lots of games to choose from. It seems the future of gaming really is mobile.
It’s about time for the core gaming industry to cash in from this trend. It’s kinda sad that the industry is so preoccupied with making more powerful hardware and more beautiful games the past years that they forgot to explore and broaden their horizons, and that non-gaming companies have to take the lead. Sony‘s PlayStation Portable and Nintendo‘s DS were there but not quite there, as the games on these handhelds weren’t as accessible as those sold on Apple’s App Store or Google’s Android Market, nor their media like music and video easily obtainable like in iTunes. These issues were somehow addressed by Sony‘s PlayStation VITA, Konami‘s Transfarring system and Nintendo‘s new HD console, WiiU.
VITAlizing Mobile Gaming
Sony‘s pursuit to become an electronic entertainment powerhouse is once again at work when their next generation portable device was officially announced and named PlayStation VITA. Sony’s E3 conference wasn’t addled with apologies for the PlayStation Network fiasco. They know when and how to move on. All is about business at Sony’s E3 conference. As always there were the big announcements like Uncharted 3, Resistance 3 and BioShock Infinite. They are also promoting 3D and unveiled a PlayStation 3DTV with really nifty features. Move still has to gain a following but with its incorporation into BioShock Infinite, it might get its deserved boost it needs from both developers and consumers.
Infinite possibilities, right at your fingertips.
The star of Sony’s conference is PlayStation VITA. The handheld will sport PS3-quality graphics and PS3 connectivity through cloud computing. Meaning you can play games on your VITA, save it, then play again on your PS3 at home, and when it’s time to leave, play on your VITA again. Gaming on the go. It also links gaming with social networking with its 3G-wifi capabilities, keeping in touch with your friends and playmates wherever you are. Controls are tight too with the usual buttons and triggers, two analog sticks, plus touchscreen front OLED and rear touch controls, giving the devs and players a wide variety of input choices and style of play.
If 2006 was an E3 disaster for Sony due to their USD 500 PlayStation 3 pricing, this wasn’t the case for VITA. Priced at USD 299 for the 3G-wifi model and USD 249 for the wifi-only one, and hopefully a solid line-up of launch titles, Christmas 2011 is looking good for the next generation handheld.
Despite the PlayStation Network drama over the past months, Sony is still looking strong and ready to take over. 2011 is a good year for PlayStation.
TransFAR and Beyond
Konami‘s ambitious nut Hideo Kojima has a great ideas for today’s gaming — seamless, continuous and uninterrupted. Konami is working on games which will enable players to game on the go with its Transfarring system which will enable players to do just that with Konami games. There is little detail on which platform will this system work. Will this work better on PlayStation? Will this work on Nintendo’s Wii u? Will this force Microsoft to develop its own handheld? The possibilities are endless for Transfarring at this point, but we see it more likely working on PlayStation now that VITA is on its way to the market.
I’d kill for a new Zone of the Enders game which looks like this.
Kojima Productions also works on its new Fox Engine which will enable developers to create gorgeousÂ multi-platformÂ games with shorter development cycles. This new engine may enable AAA title development on a year or two’s cycle for RPGs, action games, etc. just like the old days. Anyone want a new Zone of the Enders game running on this engine?
Wii will Rock U.
The most anticipated conference in this year’s E3 is Nintendo’s. Sure there’s the 3DS and its lack of Loveplus for the US market, and still the lackluster line-up of titles it sports for the coming year but that isn’t really what everyone wanted to see.
Five years of Wii has kept Nintendo on high ground by appealing to the casual market. 2010 isn’t a good year in sales for the Wii as it begins to dwindle in figures and not a lot of games for the core consumers are coming out. Games like The Last Story or Xenoblade can’t hold the fort for Nintendo and it’s time for them to ride the HD bandwagon. Their answer to this call?
The Nintendo WiiU.
A huge DS.
The neat thing about WiiU is not its backwards compatibility for the Wii and most of its peripherals, nor the huge LCD controller, but the fact that they’re bringing in third-party developers into their console for the first time since GameCube. Batman: Arkham City, Tekken and Darksiders 2 will be on board. EA Sports games will be on board. Everybody is excited for this new console:
1. Third-party devs are joining in.
2. Backwards compatible with the Wii and its peripherals.
3. Video chat on the controller while playing games.
4. Can switch from your TV to your controller and still continue playing while Mom and Dad are watching some cheesy chick-flick.
5. Comparable graphics to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (though I can’t say it has better graphics than the two given the initial screenshots of Zelda).
6. Controller having built-in flash memory.
7. Controller can surf the net.
8. Console will have internal flash memory with the option to use SD memory cards or an external USB drive.
9. Will use propriety optical discs (just make sure it can compete with Blu-ray).
10. Supports Full HD and everything below it.
Though the above may change by the time of its launch in 2012, it is a good-looking console and worth anticipating. Also, as if Sony and Nintendo agreed that ‘connectivity’ should be the theme of E3 2011, WiiU fits right in and almost directly competes with Sony with their own brand of mobility and connectivity. There are several concerns regarding the WiiU‘s specifications, choice of medium, security features and future game lineup but those are another matter and can be or will be discussed in a different feature. Nonetheless, the hype building around this new Nintendo console is going up and the wait for 2012 will be a truly agonizing one.
E3 2011 has been a wild ride for new hardware announcements as they took the spotlight away from the seemingly stagnant graphic capability race. This year will go down in gaming’s history books as one of the E3’s that changed gaming forever.