E3 2012 - Change is in the air

10:40 PM, Jun 9, 2012   |    comments
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Microsoft introduces its Smartglass technology durint E3 2012.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is considered to be the Super Bowl of the video game industry.  While gaming is big business, it's a business that is down 27 percent compared to last year according to market research groups like NPD.  If what video gaming's big three (Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony) decided to focus upon during parts of each's respective E3 press briefing is at all telling, it shows that the industry is willing to make changes in order to keep its numbers up.

"We understand that the way people game is changing," said Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House midway through the company's press briefing earlier this week.

And changing is exactly what's going on as the popularity of low-cost tablet and mobile games continues to rise.  Rather than trying to compete against those platforms, however, Sony has decided to join them.

"Very soon, we'll be bringing the PlayStation experience to Android tablets and smartphones," said House shortly before he showed the audience a PlayStation-ready HTC Android smartphone.

While Sony is looking to integrate part of its business into the mobile market, Microsoft is taking a different approach with its Smartglass technology.  It allows for smartphones and tablets to work almost seamlessly with the Xbox 360 for gaming, movies, and television viewing.

"This is the magic of smartglass," said Xbox LIVE head Marc Whitten.  "When devices work together to immerse you with entertainment."

Microsoft approach, which allows for content to stream to your connected device (ie: tablet) in relation to what the user is doing on their Xbox 360 console, has its critics.

"How many times have you been watching an episode of 'South Park' and thought I'd like to watch this on my television while hooked into my mobile device, which is talking to my tablet device, which is hooked into my over, all while sitting in the refrigerator," joked 'South Park' co-creator Trey Parker.

For its part, Nintendo will try to re-energize its lagging sales with the launch of its new Wii U gaming hardware later this year.  The Wii U has its own tablet-like controller built in for dedicated multi-screen entertainment and expanded gaming.

"At its core, Wii U does three different things," explained Nintendo of America COO Reggie Fils-Aime.  "It changes your gaming, it changes how you interact with your gaming friends, and it changes the way you enjoy your TV."

With both Sony and Microsoft going multi-screen this year and Nintendo's pending release of the Wii U, there is a legitimate chance for this year's sagging sales to catch up to last year's numbers.  Big software launches during the latter-half of 2012 such as Halo 4, Madden 13, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 should also prove helpful.


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