The future of gaming: E3 2012 roundup

8 Jun 2012

The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo came to a close yesterday, but not before introducing us to new blockbuster games, cloud gaming on smart TVs and innovations from console manufacturers.

The E3 2012 trade fair did not disappoint visitors with a thirst to discover the latest in gaming, with top names making big revelations that could change how people access video games in future.

But, first off, the expo in the Los Angeles Convention Centre in California would be nothing without the video games it has been built around, and with previews from all the top names in the industry, fans were given plenty to get excited about from upcoming releases.

Blockbuster games and magical AR stories

Halo 4 (pictured below) sees the much-anticipated return of Master Chief, while new sequels for other blockbuster franchises come in the form of Resident Evil 6, Call of Duty Black Ops II, and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist – plus a brand new Lara Croft origin story from Square Enix’s Tomb Raider. Not to mention the latest sports instalments from FIFA 2013 and Madden NFL 2013, both featuring stunning graphics and voice-powered controls using the Kinect.

For PlayStation 3 owners, The Last of Us, a brutal post-apocalyptic combat game with impressive AI, has been noted by fans and critics as one to watch out for, as well as Beyond: Two Souls, a new psychological thriller from the company behind Heavy Rain.

Sony also revealed the result of a collaboration with Harry Potter creator JK Rowling in the form of augmented-reality storybooks for kids. Rowling has already written new material for the first title, Wonderbook: Book of Spells, which will see the Wonderbook PS3 peripheral take players on a magical journey, with the PlaySation Move Motion Controller as their wand and AR technology provided via the PlayStation Eye.

Halo 4

PlayStation Mobile, Xbox SmartGlass and Nintentdo’s Wii U

During its keynote presentation, Sony informed guests that PlayStation Suite would now go by the name of PlayStation Mobile and would be opened to third-party Android manufacturers. HTC will be the first handset maker to produce PlayStation-certified devices.

“HTC is focused on delivering innovative mobile experiences for people everywhere and [Sony’s] immersive world of gaming will bring compelling entertainment to HTC One customers across the globe,” said Kouji Kodera, chief product officer at HTC.

But this minor announcement was largely outshone by Microsoft’s unveiling of a host of new Xbox features that will bring gaming, TV, music and web browsing together.

Xbox SmartGlass, a new application, will allow users to connect a phone, tablet or Windows 8-based PC to the Xbox 360, while Xbox Music, additional content channels and the development of Internet explorer for Xbox will turn the console into a complete hub of entertainment.

And while at-home consoles get more advanced, so too do handheld models, as Nintendo showcased with the Wii U Gamepad, which will come with a gyroscope, NFC capabilities, and infrared TV capabilities.

Smart TVs get smarter with cloud gaming

While E3 saw exciting developments from consoles, new innovations could see them becoming a less-needed form factor for gamers, as manufacturers team with cloud gaming services to bring games direct to TVs, minus the additional hardware.

Samsung and Gaikai have teamed up to form Samsung Cloud Gaming, a cloud-based service that will be made available to Samsung LED 7000 smart TVs. Meanwhile, LG will be pairing with OnLive to bring cloud gaming to its LG G2 Google TV sets (pictured below).

OnLive on LG G2

These new services will beam hundreds of console-quality games direct to users’ smart TV sets. All they’ll need to play is a gamepad and a broadband connection. David Perry, CEO of Gaikai, believes this will expand the reach of video games and make them as accessible as movies, TV shows and music.

LG G2 owners accessing OnLive games will enjoy the benefit of added services such as MultiView, which lets users to spectate and chat with friends and team-mates while continuing to play their own game.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.