With roar of innovation video, game expo opens doors
By Andy Goldberg May 10, 2006, 23:09 GMT
Trader takes a good look at the new Play Station 3 by sony on display at tElectronic Entertainment Expo Wednesday, 10 May 2006, in the Los Angeles Convention Center. The buzz surrounding the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo usually has everything to do with hot new video games and related technology. This year, it\'s the pricing of the PlayStation 3 gaming console from Sony Corp. that has sparked more conversations than the latest sneak peeks of \'Halo 3\' or \'Metal Gear Solid 4. EPA/ARMANDO ARORIZO
Los Angeles - With the roar of thousands of video games blasting through massive speakers on four huge show floors, the Electronic Entertainment Exposition opened Wednesday after two days of big announcements from the sector's most influential companies.
Over 70,000 industry pros are set to attend the three-day confab at the Staples Convention Center in downtown Los Angeles - a massive steel and glass structure that tucks the basketball stadium of the Los Angeles Lakers into one of its corners. The four trade floors cover over 55,000 square metres - bigger than 10 football pitches.
The trade show is the largest annual event for the 25 billion dollar annual industry. This year's excitement is particularly high because Sony and Nintendo are finally letting their new consoles onto the trade floor. Microsoft started selling its Xbox 360 in November - and the battle between the new consoles will dominate the industry for years.
Doug Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association, said Wednesday that this year's show was hosting an 'industry in transition.'
'The video game industry undergoes these technological transitions every five years,' he said, referring to the typical cycle for the launch of new consoles. 'How can an industry keep growing when it keeps compelling its consumers to upgrade every five years?'
Lowenstein's answer was that the pace of transition is so fast because the video game industry is remaking the world as we know it.
'In the 20th century, America witnessed the rise of several transformational industries, - the auto industry, the television industry, the computer industry, and the telecommunications industry,' Lowenstein said in a speech opening the show.
'When we look back 20 years from now, it is quite possible that we will add the video game industry to the list of businesses that transformed America.'
Lowenstein's claim was based not just on the huge economic clout of the sector and the growing convergence between video games, television and movies. Innovations in processing chips and graphics technology have fuelled progress in computers, medical imaging devices, training simulations and education.
'We are beginning the transition from video games as pure entertainment to video games as a central feature in the economy and business and education of America,' Lowenstein said.
Microsoft and Sony both share this vision in their powerful new consoles, which they see as versatile and easy-to-use entertainment devices at the hub of the digital living room, controlling the digital media experience.
Nintendo, however, revealed a different strategy when it unveiled its Wii (pronounced We) console Tuesday. Rather than appealing to early adopters, technophiles and avid gamers, Nintendo believes it can dominate the vast untapped market of non-game players.
They will be attracted to the Wii's intuitive game play and innovative controller which allows players to control games by waving the device in the air rather than by pressing the usual confusing array of joysticks, coloured buttons and thumb triggers.
Nintendo calls its approach a 'gaming for everyone' strategy. 'Wii is meant to indicate inclusion. It attracts all kinds of new players, and satisfies the hard-core gamers,' said Nintendo of America's marketing chief Reggie Fils-Aime. 'It's no longer just about looks, it's about feel.'
Microsoft, meanwhile, concentrated on wooing the experts with a host of impressive new games for its Xbox 360, an extension of its Xbox Live network to allow interaction with PC gamers and news of the inclusion of a high definition DVD option at year's end.
The news was meant to counter Sony's release of details about its eagerly awaited Playstation 3, which the company announced on Monday will go on sale in November. The full-featured machine, complete with Sony's Blu-ray high definition technology, is the most sophisticated game machine ever to hit the market and will look to continue the dominance of its predecessor, the PS2.
'This is a crucial year for the video game industry,' said industry analysts Greg Towns. 'The action is not confined to the screen.'© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur