June 11, 2012
On June 5, video-gamers from all around the world were sitting on the edge of their seats. E3 was about to begin. Why the anticipation? Gaming giants Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA, Square Enix and UBISOFT were about to release new products at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3). E3 is an annual computer and video game trade fair that’s held in late May or early June in Los Angeles, California. Although E3 is mainly known as a video game convention, the importance of E3 goes far beyond the actual video games that surround the expo, and into the technology that propels the games themselves.
Gaming consoles and new console technology have always been the center focus of E3. The engineering behind these products have paved the way for the rest of the tech industry. Take Microsoft’s release of the Kinect at E3 back in 2009 in which they unveiled technology allowing an individual to become the controller. Kinect not only revolutionized gaming with the Xbox 360, but also paved the way for motion and voice control integration in other devices. These devices (such as smart televisions) then debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show this year.
The Big Three
Microsoft is hoping to maintain its innovative reputation again at this year’s E3 as it debuted SmartGlass, an application that would allow users to sync their mobile and tablet devices to their Xbox.
“With Xbox SmartGlass we’re opening new doors for producers, artists and creators to develop far more than single-screen TV experiences,” said Marc Whitten, Xbox Live executive, in an interview with Game N Guide.
SmartGlass will allow users to incorporate other electronic devices within games. For instance, during the preview, Microsoft showed how users could use a tablet with the game Madden, an NFL video game. Users could create plays on the tablet then have them execute effortlessly on their Xbox.
Sony, on the other hand, had kept their releases under secrecy. At CES earlier this year, Sony announced that it would not be releasing the PS4 at E3 since the engineering behind the PS3 had a 10-year product life cycle. Nevertheless, Sony did not disappoint with its new game releases that took the PlayStation3 to the next level. In a surprise partnership with J. K. Rowling, Sony revealed its Wonderbook, a book-shaped controller that allowed the PlayStation Eye camera to generate augmented reality games within children’s books, changing the way storybooks are told and viewed.
Nintendo was the only developer to release a new console at E3 with its Wii U. The revamped console included a controller with a built in touch screen that mimicked the television screen’s display, as well as game supplements. Much like the PlayStation Vita, the new Wii controller would allow users to continue playing a game even after the television was turned off. Developers of the new console also incorporated NFC into the controller, allowing the pad to read other NFC tags and amalgamate it into the game.
As the 2012 E3 wraps up, key conclusions can be taken away from this convention:
It’s no surprise that technology will be incorporated into everything we do, but this convergence might be happening sooner than expected. Nothing displays this more than the SmartGlass design. Easily connecting devices to each other to enhance game play without NFC tags, SmartGlass showcases this convergence rapidly entering our lives. Within the next few years, the idea of “smart homes” and “smart cars” that are interactive from any location will become more realistic to the general public.
Although NFC is not anything new, few people here in the United States use and understand the capabilities of these tags. Asia and Europe, test markets for new technologies, have quickly taken NFC into their everyday lives. With any new technology, educating the user on how the technology works is critical to its acceptance. Wii U’s NFC-enabled device will allow users to understand NFC in a fun and interactive way. This will only continue to propel the use of these tags as new electronic devices begin to roll out with this capability in the coming years.
E3 is not merely an expo where new video games are shown. Instead, the convention is a preview of the new technology that will be entering homes of millions of individuals across the globe. Whether consumers purchase these products because they’re the “hottest toy” or because the system is “cool,” it paves the way for developers to build onto these technological concepts, changing the way we live and interact.
What were you excited or disappointed about at this year’s E3?