E3 2012: Some News, Notes

The 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the largest annual show in the video game industry, featured scores of video game unveilings, demonstrations and announcements, not to mention press conferences from the major players. Nothing earth-shattering this time around, but here are three of my highlights:

Microsoft: Xbox SmartGlass

Definitely an imitation of Apple AirPlay, but it goes further. SmartGlass is an app that connects your phone (Windows Phone), tablet (Android or iOS) or computer (Windows 8) with your Xbox 360. A tablet, phone or computer running SmartGlass can become a second and third screen for your TV, and your Xbox 360 essentially becomes the heart and brain to make your living room smart. Microsoft announced Internet Explorer for Xbox to be released this fall. With your Kinect and SmartGlass, you should be able to surf the Web with your voice and navigate with your mobile devices as well.

You’ll be able to access must-have sports content such as ESPN (24/7 live programming from ESPN networks), NBA Game Time (NBA.com League Pass Broadband subscribers will have access to hundreds of out of market games) and NHL GameCenter LIVE. More than 35 new content partners were announced worldwide – just to name a few: Nickelodeon, Paramount Movies, Comedy Central, GameSpot TV, Rhapsody, Rakuten Showtime and Univision. Of course, clips of the next Halo 4 game were shown too (we should see it release just in time for Christmas).

Nintendo: Wii U

The star of Nintendo’s show was the Wii U Console integrated with the Wii U Gamepad. The Wii U was initially announced at last year’s E3 and will be the successor to the Wii with no solid pricing or release date yet (possibly around the holidays this year).

The GamePad controller has a 6.2-inch touch screen and dual analog sticks that redefine how you interact with your games. During asymmetric gameplay, multiple experiences are possible in the same game at the same time. GamePad is tied to your Wii U Console and TV, providing an integrated experience.

Nintendo’s announcement included a multitude of games from outside developers as well as Nintendo itself. Most of them are built upon previous franchises, so it’s nothing spectacular.

Additionally, the new Miiverse introduces a new social network that lets you share experiences and discuss games with other players from around the world. As far as content goes, the company is working with Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video and YouTube.

Sony: New Titles

The world thought Sony would introduce the PlayStation 4 this year, but apparently not. Sony’s press conference was the last one of the three big guys, yet the most subdued. There was no mention of a PlayStation Vita price cut, which I thought would happen too, but they did demo Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified and Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation (exclusively made for the Vita). Of course, no Sony announcement is complete without a God of War mention. God of War: Ascension was shown.