News / Science & Technology

Good Times Roll at E3 Videogame Trade Show

Show attendees play video games on the PlayStation 4 at the Sony booth during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, June 13, 2013.
Show attendees play video games on the PlayStation 4 at the Sony booth during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, June 13, 2013.
Reuters
Few first-time participants at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles this week would have realized that the $66 billion videogames industry is in steep decline.

Microsoft Corp, Sony Corp, Electronic Arts and other industry giants whipped up the crowd of gamers and developers at the event into a frenzy, with displays of high-powered new consoles and previews of popular genre games.

For an industry accustomed to dwindling revenue in recent years, the pervasive visual pyrotechnics offered something to look forward to after years of subsisting on franchise-oriented games such as "Call of Duty" and "Halo" that run off aging technology.

This fall will usher in the Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4, which apart from being more powerful than their predecessors, now support cloud-based game play and mobile integration.It remains to be seen whether these will avoid the fate ofNintendo Co Ltd's Wii U, whose disappointing sales since its late 2012 launch have forced the Japanese company to sharply curtail revenue forecasts.

The Xbox One will sell for $499 and the PlayStation 4 for $399 - a hefty bit of change in an era when free-to-play Internet and smartphone games from "Angry Birds" to "Clash of Clans" are attracting budget-conscious gamers and millions in investment."

The graphics capabilities of console games are going through the roof, but mobile games are becoming more and more sophisticated too," said Mike Cuff, vice president of content at Wikipad, which launched a portable gaming tablet at E3.
 
Rectal software designer Julian Kantor (L) takes a picture of Jonathan Feng (R) as he uses the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset to experience his program during E3 in Los Angeles, California June 12, 2013.
Rectal software designer Julian Kantor (L) takes a picture of Jonathan Feng (R) as he uses the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset to experience his program during E3 in Los Angeles, California June 12, 2013.


At this year's E3, which will end late on Thursday, the debate raged around how Microsoft and Sony will treat used games, a segment that is growing quickly because the Facebook and iPhone generation seem to be moving away from the traditional practice of shelling out for newly released, highly marketed franchise titles.

"Sony and Microsoft still have work to do in order to convince a broad consumer base that they need to spend $400 or $500 on new hardware, in addition to $60 for each new piece of software," R.W. Baird analyst Colin Sebastian said. "There doesn't seem to be as clear a reason to upgrade compared to prior cycles, which introduced DVDs, 3D and HD to consumers."

Mixed feelings

According to industry tracker NPD, sales of videogame hardware and software have fallen every month, on a year-on-year basis, since January 2012.

Still, industry executives were encouraged by the enthusiastic response they received at E3."There's been a lot of confusion about, 'Hey, with the riseof tablets and phone games does that have some impact on consoles?' Not at all," said Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business. "All that's doing is bringing more people to the world of gaming."

The high level of excitement at the convention, driven by the faceoff between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, was the noticeable difference from last year, said Keza MacDonald,  editor at games news site IGN.com.

Developers fed off that excitement by showing off what they envisioned as franchises in the making.
 
EA unveiled Titanfallwith mech-style soldiers and robots, a project led by Vince Zampella, a co-creator of Activision Blizzard's "Call of Duty." Ubisoft Entertainment SA announced "Tom Clancy's: The Division," a role-playing shooter revolving round a pandemic that breaks out in New York on Black Friday.

"The good news is, we entered the show thinking, 'Why do weneed consoles anymore?' We're leaving the show with, 'Which one would you like to buy?'" said Peter Moore, EA's COO. "That's a win for the industry coming in here."New hardware and software will boost the video game industry's growth in 2014, Ubisoft Entertainment SA Chief Executive Officer Yves Guillemot said.

Still, questions remain over how long the good vibes will last or whether the crowd at E3 is representative of a much broader swathe of casual and mobile game players out there.

"In the near term, we see pent-up demand among core gamers for new hardware and software, which should deliver a strong launch," R.W. Baird's Sebastian said. "Beyond that, we still need more visibility that Sony and Microsoft can safely avoid a stallout like what is currently plaguing the Wii U.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid