It was my first time back in LA at E3 since 2006 and it was both exciting, stimulating certainly never boring. Would we see the true dawn of a new platform less frontier where the Cloud was all? Or would we see platforms continuing to plough their own furrow, vying for the top development talent as well as the consumers’ Yen, Pound, Dollar or Euro?
These are inspiring times and we are seeing both structural and seismic changes to the industry as we know it. Platforms and methods of distribution are certainly key factors that will both disrupt the status quo and drive growth or hasten failure for those who are unable to adapt to market conditions and consumer demand. Everyone is seeking to be the hub of the entertainment universe both in the home and out and about. From a consumer’s perspective, this does give plenty of choice, but it can also lead to confusion and confusion is never good. That is why technology and content companies need to have very clear offerings and above all deliver seamless, secure, reliable, scalable and inclusive services and products to consumers. It is clear that some consumers want one connected device which they can use in a variety of ways. Between Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Apple, HTTC, Samsung and others we will see plenty of gadgetry that will edge us all towards that nirvana.
But back in the video games world, it was great to hear and see that Microsoft were pushing Kinect out to the core gamers, that Sony launched their new handheld the PS Vita (out this year) and were also focusing on the core gamers and Nintendo unveiled their new console, Wii U (out anytime between April and December 2012). The Wii U will blow most people away as soon as you get your hands on it and it truly offers another dimension (3rd anyone?) in gaming. It will push and inspire games developers to make games that will in turn inspire and push gamers everywhere. And Nintendo too are focusing on, you’ve guessed it, core gamers. Selling packaged goods media alongside the hardware will be a much needed fillip to the traditional retailers who are not yet into the digital world. There are also some Nintendo favourites such as Mario Kart and Luigi’s Mansion coming to the 3DS which will push sales nicely too.
Meanwhile up the road from LA, Apple announced the iCloud which is a way of storing all your music, photos, apps, docs and more, wirelessly as well as pushing them to all your devices automatically. Cloud computing is finally becoming a practical reality, and another exciting tech on show was OnLive, who have BT and HTTC as investors. This is a streaming service which brings top notch PC games to your TV or tablet. Using a universal controller you simply play directly from the Cloud. I even saw Flash running on an iPad! OnLive are due to launch in the UK in September so it will be interesting to see if the service is taken up by gamers, core or casual or somewhere in between.
Elsewhere in the digital space, EA have launched Origin which is their digital distribution service set to rival Steam, Amazon, Apple, XBLA, PSN and others. They clearly see the digital race is on and like the chariot race in Ben Hur, it will be fast, furious and pretty brutal.
And finally, it was great to see E3 packed with the key innovators in our industry – the developers, old and new, all hungry for the new tech, some liberated by self-publishing and above all most of them had a smile on their face. I even saw some great augmented reality apps which will revolutionise advertising very soon. If you see smiles augmented or up there in the clouds, it’s a good sign that the future for interactive entertainment an video games is very bright indeed.