Monday, June 14, 2010

Game developers put on glitz for electronic trade show

LOS ANGELES — There might be something for everyone at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo.
Once a boisterous bastion for geeky gamers, the gaming industry's annual convention has in recent years morphed into a more modest showcase of the latest in hardware and games from publishers and developers who now want to reach consumers of all kinds — not just guys. This year's E3 is likely to mimic last year's shift to a cautiously glitzy affair.

Nearly 250 exhibitors, including publishing giants Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, plan to hype their latest games and gizmos. The Entertainment Software Association expects 45,000 attendees this week, which would be 4,000 more than last year. That's still shy of the 70,000 who flocked to the Los Angeles Convention Center in 2005.

"I think there will be a couple of surprises and a couple of expected things," said Greg Zeschuk, co-founder at Electronic Arts' BioWare. "Obviously, the thing that Sony and Microsoft are going for is to broaden their reach with consumers. It'll be interesting to get hands-on and see what kind of products they'll have that use the motion controls."

Microsoft and Sony unveiled their respective motion-control doodads at last year's E3 and will focus their attention at this year's show on games that use the camera-based systems.

Nintendo, which launched motion control into the mainstream in 2006 with the Wii, will meanwhile flaunt its pulse-detecting Wii Vitality Sensor and the 3DS, a 3-D hand-held device.

In anticipation of the expo, Sony plunged into 3-D gaming last week by releasing three downloadable 3-D games for the PlayStation 3. The publisher plans to demonstrate 3-D versions of bigger games at E3, such as Killzone 3 and Gran Turismo 5 . Other game makers will also exhibit 3-D titles that require a 3-D TV or computer.

Online games on radar

Besides motion control and 3-D gaming, many attendees will no doubt be buzzing about what effect online games such as Farm-Ville and Mafia Wars , which are mobile and cheap to produce and play, will have on the industry. Though such titles won't have a major presence at the convention, developers of bigger games are paying attention to the popular little guys.

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