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Technology

Battle of the consoles stirs up buzz for E3 gaming expo

© france 24

Text by Sébastian SEIBT

Latest update : 2013-06-10

Sony and Microsoft will be battling for the spotlight at the E3 videogame show in Los Angeles this week, both eager to showcase new consoles – the Xbox One and PS4 – as game publishers attempt to tackle the industry’s shift towards mobile gaming.

A year after Nintendo introduced its lacklustre Wii U to the gaming world, console rivals Microsoft and Sony are using the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles as a launching pad for their next generation of machines: the Xbox One and the PS4.

As the long-awaited consoles go into direct competition, Microsoft and Sony have chosen wholly different strategies to promote them.

SONY builds up suspense over the new PlayStation 4

Microsoft is keen to present the Xbox One as an all-in-one platform that entails far more than just gaming. At its inauguration in late May, Microsoft emphasised the console’s multimedia might, stressing numerous ventures with music and video content suppliers they hope will make it a Swiss army knife in entertainment.

Sony, meanwhile, has chosen to package the PS4 as a device devoted to gaming. During its inauguration in January, the aesthetics of the product were shunned entirely; instead, Sony chose to focus on the many exclusive games that the PS4 will boast of when it launches in late 2013. What it actually looks like is something gamers are waiting to find out at the E3.

The clear challenge for the two giants is to prove to players and consumers that they can do better than Nintendo. The Japanese manufacturer has struggled with its Wii U ever since it went on sale in November 2012 and revealed poor sales in April at just three million units – way below the five million planned.

Consoles in crisis

But Microsoft and Sony have every reason to hope their competitor’s woes are temporary – and not indicative of a market trend. For Nintendo itself, the poor results were primarily due to “delays in the release of new games for the platform.”

So is it too early to talk of players falling out of love with consoles and turning instead to tablet platforms and smartphones?

A look at the game Zombie Driver played on NVIDIA's Shield console

Figures seem to suggest otherwise. Last year was a tough one for the traditional PC and console games market, with sales in the US dropping by as much as 21%.

Meanwhile, mobile gaming has been blooming. Its revenue increased by 16% in the US in 2012 and by 32% globally, reaching 9 billion dollars.

Console manufacturers are not the only ones pulling out all the stops to reverse the trend during E3. Of course, the battle between the industry’s three traditional giants may dominate discussions, but the 200,000 people expected at the Los Angeles video game show will see plenty of other companies trying to make a name for themselves.

E3’s renewal

Major video game publishers, for a start, will be hoping the new consoles appeal to increasingly sceptical consumers. Among them is French company Ubisoft, which has heavily invested in the development of games for the latest platforms. Its flagship title, “Watchdog” (which tells the adventures of a genius hacker), is one of the most anticipated games at E3. Market leaders Activision and Electronic Arts will also pull out their new “blockbusters”.

Another eagerly awaited new launch will be Nvidia's Project Shield, an Android-based handheld game console with built-in touch screen. Zynga, creator of the famous “FarmVille” and “Mafia City” games for Facebook, will also be in Los Angeles to promote its new games, despite its significant financial worries.

So while in recent years E3 had lost much of its appeal, the new consoles have come as a breath of fresh air and everyone seems to be looking forward to this year’s edition. That’s including the press. While the French mainstream media usually send no more than 15 people to E3, this year there will be about 50 French journalists, a press coordinator said. Proof that Los Angeles is once again the place to be if you’re in the video game industry – at least for this year.

 

Date created : 2013-06-09

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