E3 UPDATE GAMING UPDATE // E3 2011 // Almost 47,000 attendees from over a hundred countries passed by more than 200 exhibitors at this year’s E3. The big gaming conference – just a shadow of itself a couple of years ago – is now back bigger than ever. Everyone who had anything to do with the gaming world made sure to step through the doors of the Los Angeles Convention center at the beginning of June, and boy was there a lot to see! Find out what exactly in this month’s Gaming Update.
GAMING UPDATE // E3 2011 // HOW MUCH HAS CHANGED? //REMEMBERING LAST YEAR First things first. One of last year’s big buzzwords was 3D. Compared with that other big new technology, motion control, there were doubts as to whether this would really be the year 3D finally broke through. We have to admit there was not as much 3D-related joy going on as we had expected. Instead it was a very low-tech solution that gave us the biggest immersive kick. No real 3D and maybe a little oversized for most living rooms, but the jDome gave us the feeling we were literally inside the game. All you need is a normal projector pointing at the dome-shaped projection screen. No special hard- or software needed, just a little change in your projector settings and you have your own little low-cost Imax theatre at home. We would like one, but preferably in our garage. Luckily for the ones who prefer a somewhat smaller set-up, Sony introduced its very own PlayStation-branded 3D display. Just 24 inches, its winning feature is its nifty split-screen mode. Two players play at the same time – each looking at the same screen but both seeing their own individual unique full screen image instead of the split-screen that is normally showing without the 3D glasses. It is like having two separate TVs in one! 3D technology got a lot cooler all of a sudden. Shame we didn’t get to see much of it.
GAMING UPDATE // E3 2011 // The same goes for that other big technology that was presented at last year’s E3: motion control. No exciting news at Nintendo, the first company that brought motion control to the gaming world. Their new Wii U is compatible with the old point-and-swing controllers, but that is where the innovation in motion control stops for the Japanese gaming giant. At Sony we felt the same vibe. No big changes or announcements for their PlayStation Move. More first-person-shooter games will get Move support, but always as an option. A big relief for many hardcore gamers who prefer to lean back in their couch and push buttons instead of waving their arms in the air. Only Microsoft pushed their motion control device this year. Maybe because of the lack of other things to show. Their big booth on the main floor showed off Dance Central 2 and a whole other bunch of Kinect games, few of which felt particularly new. But our eyes became a lot bigger when we walked into the special ‘Fable for Kinect’ presentation: riding a horse carriage through mountains and vast plains by shortly swinging both your arms in the air or fighting ugly creatures by casting special motion spells. It all felt a little bit closer to the real future of motion control gaming. Less limited and more real. Together with the introduction of Kinect Fun Labs it was a breath of fresh air amidst many ‘so last year’ games and technology. Except for Microsoft, it seems that most gaming giants are not concerned yet with the future of motion control and are quite happy with adapting a bit to last year’s technology for now. From a business point of view that might be the right thing to do, but we felt it was a missed chance for creativity and innovation. Both motion control and 3D are a bit behind on last year’s promises. Surely they will catch up in the future, but maybe technology isn’t everything?
GAMING UPDATE // E3 2011 // SONY’S NEW MOBILE TOY //VENI VIDI VITA I came, I saw and I played the Vita. That is at least what a big group of E3 attendees did this year, spending a whole day waiting in line to have a 2-minute date with the new Playstation Vita, formerly known by its codename NGP. It might not have been worth spending a whole day waiting on one device (so we didn’t) while you could be talking about the growth of the mobile gaming market in the Arabic world or appear in a picture with 246 different booth babes, but the Vita really is a nice little toy. You name it, it’s there: motion sensors, microphone, touch screen, all the console buttons, a touch panel on the back, wifi, 3G, GPS and a front and back camera… And then we haven’t even mentioned the games that were shown – all little beauties on the bright 5-inch OLED screen. It almost feels like playing on your PlayStation console at home. And that actually isn’t far from the truth. In a not so distant future you will be able to pause your game on the Vita and resume the game on your PlayStation console from the comfort of your couch. Even more, you’ll be able to play directly against console players with your mobile device. Freedom of platforms. Didn’t we tell you? All this technology doesn’t even come at a high price. You get all the goodness for $250, that’s the same as the 3DS, but with better hardware specifications and a more hardcore gaming profile. LAUNCH VIDEO www.playstation.com
GAMING UPDATE // E3 2011 // THE NINTENDO UPDATE //WINNER OF THE SHOW Do you realize that the Nintendo Wii was launched back in 2006? Quite a long time on the market for one console, and it was starting to show. Sales numbers have been going down and a successor of the good old Wii has been expected for a while now. Well, now it’s finally here. The Wii U, which looks like an oversized white iPad, was definitely the winner of this year’s show. The exact same booth in which the 3DS was presented 12 months ago was now the showground for a very all-round new Nintendo console. And we say ‘all-round’ because it seems to do pretty much everything you can think of, to the point that it gets a bit confusing. And wasn’t that the big strength of the first Wii? A simple device that allowed you to play with your smallest children as well as with your grandma. Times have changed and Nintendo seems to think that grandma has adapted by now. Looking at our own grannies… we’re not sure. Of course this move to a more complicated console will make for a whole bunch of innovative gaming experiences. With full HD output you can use the screen on your controller as a secondary screen while playing on your million-inch HD television. But if your wife wants to watch the 7,000 th episode of her favorite soap opera, you can easily switch the main game to your small screen and continue gaming while hearing Kevin breaking up with Jennifer in the background. What is more, the controller screen can be used as an extension of your big screen. Pointing at your television, some games will allow you to see the rest of the image outside the borders of your television set. This shows that the new Wii U has a whole lot more processing power packed beneath the hood than his predecessor. Add to that built-in speakers, a microphone, camera, motion sensors, an accelerometer and a gyroscope, and you have yourself a pretty all-round device. It even does video calls and web browsing! You might wonder what will happen now with the good old Wii-experience. Absolutely nothing, just make sure to keep your old controllers. When you set your iPad-like controller in the dock, the camera on top of it will be used to register all the swings and waves you can pull-off with that plastic white controller you’ve gotten so attached to. The Wii U will be released next year, but an exact date or pricing details are not yet available. LAUNCH VIDEO www.nintendo.com
GAMING UPDATE // E3 2011 // THE NINTENDO UPDATE //WINNER OF THE SHOW
GAMING UPDATE // E3 2011 // WHERE DID ALL THE COOL PEOPLE GO? //CASUAL GAMING AT E3 The weird thing about E3 2011 was that a very important part of the gaming industry was not there. A part of the industry that is making tons of money, but that has no big trailers or hero characters to show off. We’re talking about the casual game developers. The people who make those Facebook games your friends (but not you!) are so addicted to, the evil minds that make flirting on public transport a whole lot harder cause that girl you like just doesn’t want to look up from her goddamn mobile game. Yes, those guys were not there. They were probably too busy making money. But there was still some interesting casual gaming news to gather: MineCraft for mobile : For now only on Xperia Play. Coming with some social features and, according to its inventor, particularly good for short building sessions in the bathroom. Oh and did we mention that MineCraft is also coming to the Xbox later this year? How do you spell ‘world domination’? Sims Social : A bit creepy, but bound to take a big bite out of your time. The big question is if in a distant future the whole of Facebook will look like a big Sims game or not…