Innovation at E3

Innovation is the lifeblood of many industries, but few depend on it as much as the video gaming market. At this year’s Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3), the gaming industry’s annual trade show, game designers and hardware companies were out again in full force to show off their latest gadgets and newest ideas. One notable development in the industry began as an announcement made at last year’s Game Developer Conference by a then unknown startup called OnLive.

OnLive had the revolutionary idea of removing the game console from the equation entirely. They use their own servers to render games and stream them to computers and TV’s; essentially, OnLive’s product is the gaming variant of cloud computing. The implications for game developers and consumers are immense, as both can remain platform agnostic while gaining the ability to play the latest games on aging hardware, Macs, and even TV’s. Skeptics were quick to charge that piping games over broadband would lead to unacceptable levels of lag; the time difference between the player’s actions and the graphics displayed, but the concern seems to have been laid to rest at this year’s expo. Players finally had the chance to get their hands on the platform and early reviews have been quite positive. What this will mean for traditional hardware companies depends on both the ability for OnLive to deliver on its promise, as well as the traditional players’ ability to continually innovate.

Some of the more notable products at E3 come from traditional powerhouses Nintendo and Microsoft. Jumping on the 3D bandwagon, Nintendo unveiled its new handheld gaming system called the Nintendo 3DS. The technology behind producing a three dimensional image was kept under wraps by the company, but the device is capable of producing a crisp 3D gaming experience without the need for glasses. The device also features two camera lenses in the back which allow users to take 3D pictures of themselves and share with other 3DS users.

Trying to leap ahead of the Nintendo Wii console with its famous motion sensing remote controls, Microsoft has unveiled its newest project; the Kinect motion control system. Kinect is a sleek add-on peripheral for the Xbox console that can track a player’s movements and provide a controller free gaming experience.  Instead of using traditional input methods, gamers will be able to control the action on the screen with their own body movements that are tracked by Kinect’s cameras.

Whether Microsoft or Nintendo have done enough this year to compete with the potentially paradigm shifting offer from OnLive remains to be seen, but a renewed focus on innovation will certainly be instrumental for the continued success of traditional industry powerhouses.

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