This is not your father’s E3 – Old gang war renewed on the Streets of Las Vegas?

International Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas, NV

The usual trappings of Vegas – gambling, drinking and loose women – as well as the proximity to the Annual Porn convention made this trade show curious at best.

I know the back streets of the city well enough to know when it is more packed, and where idle chit-chat points out the nefarious sexual outings of more than one electronics head (pun intended).

The convention, prone to and known for back-room deals and lack of gaming news, the CES did manage to start a new gang brawl amongst this generation of consoles. A kind-of console war within a console war.

Expecting to find more with Microsoft and Sony was a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. “New” videogame “consoles” and games are on the way; but we already knew about them.

The yearly CES is more prone to industry types; us blue badged press just around to be pretty and alternative amongst the suits. The back-halls and office suites are full of such industry types. This is not a show primarily for the public, or even the press; it is about dealings with large sums of printed monies, or trying to attain them.

I found out more about gaming from my casual conversations with street folk and fellow gamers in many of the run down arcades about, than from the convention. The central tenet of the expo was 3D television ergo 3D gaming. However, almost everyone I spoke with found the idea either premature or ancient, and lost on the concept of always wearing glasses to enjoy projected material.

Perhaps the most important news came from Microsoft in the form of subterfuge, a new console? But didn’t we already know about the Project Natal? Microsoft has decided 5 years is enough to break the usual life-cycle of consoles and start totally fresh with sensational, more precise motion controls by camera capture. Natal will be treated as if it were a new, “stand alone” console, insisted Microsoft. Project Natal will be treated as if it were a new console, even though it would probably be something more between a peripheral and an add-on. With no admission software transfers will be a difficult process, Microsoft promised they would stay away from “gimmicky” software, such as that flooding the Wii market, and the product would be available by the Holidays.

Sony’s display was impressive simply in its enormity, with a sci-fi largeness. Sony remained the most game-oriented, featuring their own Heavy Rain and God of War III, while Capcom showcased Lost Planet 2 and Mega Man 10. While graphically impressive, especially in the case of Heavy Rain, the games faded into retro and slow-paced gameplay. I have no doubt the games will rise above this in the final analysis, they were too attractive not to.

Certainly only Sony broke the game-light nature of the show, with impressive showings of their PlayStation 3 Slim and PSPgo, along with a slew of appropriate accessories. While the PS3 wand was curiously missing, it was clear that a new generation of console wars is beginning; while time consciously side-lining the Wii. The Wii might have created the worldwide notion of motion control gaming, but now it is Sony and Microsoft’s time to battle it out for at least the next five years.

There is a new console war! A console war within a console war. And perhaps, just perhaps, that is even more exciting than the cocktail waitresses, slot machines and street walkers nearby.

Console wars always provide strange bed-fellows; how appropriate for a new affair to start in Sin City, now in name and movement.

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Written by Les T

2 comments

  1. Adam R. /

    The closing line deserves the prize of one “epic mount.”

  2. Kevin M /

    While Sony and MS appear to be plowing into Wii territory, it will be interesting to see what Nintendo are planning next. If it is Wii HD then all 3 console makers will have identical products. Not exactly what Nintendo envisaged originally! I only hope the flood of “Funfair” games that enveloped the Wii don’t find a new home on the HD consoles, thanks to the new motion controllers.

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