Tuesday, June 15, 2010

E3: Thoughts on Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony

Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony have now all had their press events at E3. Let me preface this by saying that I'm at best a casual gamer, and I track the game console market only where it intersects with online video or other areas of interest. Therefore, I'm going to focus mainly on technology, not titles.

In my opinion, perhaps the most important product shown by the three companies was Nintendo's 3DS, both because it's a new platform and it displays 3D without requiring separate glasses. Nintendo dominates the handheld game console market, and the 3DS will help to maintain Nintendo's lead. What was disappointing, however, was that Nintendo announced neither a ship date nor a price for the 3DS.

Microsoft's Kinect (the new name for Project Natal) will serve as a strong mid-life "kicker" for the Xbox 360 platform. Kinect has a price ($150 in the U.S.), a release date (November 4th) and a collection of 14 games that will take advantage of the Kinect technology. Kinect and similar products could lead to controller-free remote controls and user interfaces for a variety of devices in the living room.

Sony announced pricing and availability for PlayStation Move, Sony's take on the Wiimote. The Move will be available in the U.S. on September 19th for $49.99, or as part of a bundle with one Move, a PlayStation Eye (one Eye is needed per PlayStation 3 in order to use Move controllers) and a copy of the PlayStation Move Sports Champions game, for $99.99.

This generation of game consoles is beginning to look a bit old, and both Microsoft and Sony are trying to inject life into their platforms with new controllers. Nintendo apparently feels that Microsoft and Sony are only now beginning to catch up with the Wii, and is focusing its attention on the 3DS and more Wii games. In any event, there weren't any overwhelming announcements from any of the three console makers.
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