/notable insights from E3 2019
The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is a much-anticipated annual destination of gaming aficionados everywhere. Our team makes a point of attending each year to ensure we have a pulse on new entertainment trends and technologies that should be front-of-mind for those tasked with developing the next methods of connecting and entertaining people anywhere on Earth- whether it be on the ground or in the air.
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The HoloLense was available for visitors to try in the “Unreal Garden,” which displayed digital art and responsive elements in a physical space. It enabled the ability to freely walk around, unlike VR. The AR was only visible in a small, rectangular area, and the visuals felt years behind where VR glasses have come.
The Unreal Garden is a large-scale, multi-player AR experience produced by Onedome and built on the Enklu platform. The goal of the installation was to deliver a unique environment where tech meets human experience.
While a majority of the developers at the show were releasing the next sequel or reboot of an existing game, the companies in the IndieCade section were exploring new game play, stories and technologies.
The group ARBox introduced an escape room in a box (for use at home), using AR technology.
The games come with some physical components and a smart hub that works with Alexa and other IoT devices in the house (like lights, for example) to enhance the experience.
NOT ALL REALITY NEEDS TO BE AUGMENTED
At first glance, it seems strange to try to integrate AR into a physical game like Pong (this version can be seen on CBS's "Let's Make A Deal.") However, upon further inspection, it seems in this case, the technology is being used to add the audience and game show environment for users outside of the real game show set, not to necessarily change the physical game.
VR is still a big topic at E3 with different platforms featuring their own proprietary games and technologies. While the trend is to go tether free (so players don’t get tangled in wires), we’ve found that the rest of the ergonomics still aren’t quite there, and setting adjustments to fit a user’s head isn’t easy, making sharing with others cumbersome. Many of the controls are not entirely intuitive and often the user has to provide their own headphones.
Red Pill provides virtual gathering spaces for events like concerts or a club.
The booth allowed visitors to experience a virtual world on a large display with amazing passive 3d capability.
Oculus is one of the best-known names in VR, and their E3 presence reflected that status. They partnered with their Facebook community to expand their presence and they hosted a panel talk with the Chief Creative Officer of Ready at Dawn. The main take-away, though, had to be their focus on getting more content on their standalone headset, the Oculus Quest.
The Oculus Quest has more than 50 titles in its content library, but Oculus is targeting over 100 games by the end of 2019.
Oculus Go is an all-in-one standalone virtual reality headset.
Oculus Rift S is equipped with Oculus Insight, which translates a user’s movements into VR no matter which way they’re facing and features room-scale tracking without external sensors.
Vader Immortal, a VR Star Wars experience game became available on the Oculus Rift in June. The hand controllers vibrate to give the player feedback during the game. This Star Wars game is an original canonical story in the Star Wars universe, which will be told over multiple characters.
Access an informative graphic comparing the best Virtual Reality headsets, according to PC Magazine.
Red Digital Media was showing their Red Hydrogen One phone with its 4-View Lightfield Display that enables a 3D holographic experience without glasses. The 4-View promise is to add a more realistic perception of texture and depth to the photos, videos, and selfies the user captures.
Cloud gaming is coming at the end of this year. Xbox and Google are both launching their platforms for phone or tablet game play.
This will be big- think Netflix, but for the gaming world. There will be no game installation needed, players will be able just stream with the same ease of streaming a movie. While the details for the systems have not been released, a booth spokeperson mentioned a 7Mbps download speed. If people want to watch Netflix anywhere- including on planes- you can bet the demand for gaming will be the same.
PROJECT X CLOUD
Microsoft did not share much launch, cost or phone compatibility information at the show, leaving us wondering: is it included in their new subscription service, will it be additional, what about a game a player already owns on the Xbox?
They did, however, have several games running on a Samsung phone mounted to an Xbox controller available for visitors to test. These games were running on a public wifi network at the theater from a server in San Francisco almost 400 miles away and were still on very responsive.
Cloud gaming is so important that Sony, which in the past has not played well with competition, is teaming up with Microsoft for their cloud gaming efforts.
The project is expected to launch in October, just one month before Google’s Stadia.
While some people are still having a hard time with video games as a spectator sport, others have embraced that many of us watch sports now, yet don’t (or never did) play them.
Some fighting games, like Tekken, for example, have created points in the game where slow motion moments are not meant just for the player‘s enjoyment, but for the spectators. Future fighting games will likely start to rely on improved AI so there are better matched games. The developers of Tekken stated that it would also be nice to see historic stats of fighters like modern sports do to enhance the spectators’ viewing experience. This form of entertainment shows no signs of slowing.
Google’s Stadia is a subscription service, enabling gamers to pay a monthly fee that allows access to all of the games they offer. Games can also be purchased fully and played any time. EA games has done this for a few years now, but there wasn’t access to launch day games; this is not the case anymore.
Xbox is getting into the game subscription game as well, and not just the GoldPass that allowed users to play online and get 2-4 free games a month. Nintendo and Playstation have similar online subscriptions.
Playstation Now subscribers have access to 750+ games from PS2, PS3 and PS4 for play on a PS4 or PC, but not phone.
novel ideas FROM THE INDIECADE
Blinks is a collection of tiles, each of which contains several multi-colored LEDs, touch sensing technology, magnets, and battery power for 50 hrs of play. When activated, the game tiles program all connected tiles with the game software.
The Pixxl Cube is a fun, 6-sided LED game where the user moves the cube to work a ball through a maze. The ultimate goal for the manufacturer is to have this available for other developers to use as a platform on which to create games.
Hot Swap is a two player game that requires players to swap physical components that have specific interactions and purpose to sail a pirate boat and attack other pirates. It’s fresh way of using hardware to control actions on the screen.
Sloppy Forgeries is a fun 2 player game that challenges players to quickly re-paint a classic piece of art in 90 seconds with simple paint tools.
Save the Date is a wedding invitation game startup. The invitation allows invited guests to play as one of the two halves of the couple to fight a monster, rescue their partner and relay the ‘save the date’ message.
well that's STRANGE
Speaking Simulator requires the player act as a robot who is trying to have a convincing conversation with a human on a date. The player controls the robot’s tongue as it hits the bottom and roof of the mouth, while controlling the width and opening of the mouth to create sounds.
Xbox Elite Wireless Controller
Bravo Xbox for doing some good user research. After observing gamers’ hand positions during different game types, Xbox identified various grip configurations and decided to empower players to tune their own controllers. The user can now manually adjust the tightness of the sticks to feel like the Xbox One or the Xbox 360. They provided a concave “classic” thumb groove like the 360, and improved the sensitivity of the bottom buttons. Bluetooth is integrated to help with PC gaming and future Project Cloud support.
/3D PARTY SOLUTIONS
answering UNMET NEEDS
This adapter allows the Switch to finally have Bluetooth functionality, which is needed in this era of smart phones without headphone jacks. Thanks apple :)
Bionik’s powerplate is a portable charging system for the Nintendo Switch and its joy-con controllers.
VoltEdge’s device allows the user to hold the Nintendo joy-cons at a more ergonomic angle, like other traditional controllers. There is even room to store game cards, a very clever use of space.
GuliKit’s power bank attaches to enable 100% more power to the Nintendo Switch.
Console Games to Go
Here’s one way to game on the go... GameBoks makes a laser cut box with a display for gamers to make their console portable, then play wherever there is a power outlet. The gamer can also personalize the box with laser cut graphics.
just the way YOU LIKE IT
Game controllers were skinned to match players’ personalities, favorite games or teams.
Nzxt offers limited-edition cases that allow gamers to show off their passion for certain characters.
Nzxt custom-built gaming computers can be created with unique LED lighting.
LEDs accented computers, tables, chairs and headphones.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is one of the two big first-party releases in Nintendo’s 2019 Switch lineup. An immersive experience drew E3 attendees in to play and walk away remembering the feeling Nintendo curated.
VRX makes a $38k system for car racing.
Superhuman Streetwear answers players’ desire to feel like the extraordinary characters they interact with in digital worlds.
No need for headphones. These seats shake you with sound while watching movies or playing games.
FluidStance is bringing tech from the office world to gaming. The balance board encourages the mind to focus while keeping players alert. The body will make natural micro-movements to burn calories and strengthen and stabilize the body.
Gaming chairs answered players’ desires for comfort and ergonomics.
Woojor Vest™ is a wearable haptic device that delivers sensations - from strong to subtle- that correspond to actions in games, delivering an immersive, realistic experience.
NOT ALL GAMES NEED HD
Sometimes it’s the simple things. Depixtion is a puzzle game that is a bit reminiscent of Minesweeper, but sections combine to reveal pixel art. The game blends color mixing mechanics with the rules of nonograms to deliver a relaxing, unique and colorful experience by using logic, without any serious HD graphics.
We couldn't help but think this would be a great fit for In-Flight Entertainment.
art & CULTURE
The gaming industry has a uniquely close relationship to art and culture, sometimes mirroring cultural movements, and other times giving gamers a chance to completely remove themselves from life as we know it. This culture of creativity can be seen everywhere at E3.
Watchdogs Legion takes place in post-brexit London. The player must recruit people to join their cause and they can use the stores in the game to get gear to customize characters. Very interesting immersive world based on a real topic of today.
UbiSoft told the BBC that it would share the digital design of the Notre Dame Cathedral with the French authorities, if requested.
The digital version of the building was featured in its 2014 release of Assassin's Creed Unity and was modeled over a period of 14 months.
past & present
Fortnite has changed the way developers make games, and now some are playing catch up. Frequent updates, map changes, temporary items, free to play (with in game purchases available to customize your character) are all crowd pleasers.
Respawn Entertainment, the makers of Apex Legends, used the world they had already created for their previous game series, Titanfall, to create a free battle royal game. They admitted that they had to change they way they develop and update their game to keep up with the experience that their gamers now expect. For the first time, they now heavily rely on user feedback instead of their gut.
Companies have been reviving brands and characters from the past. Is it nostalgia, or fear of inventing something new? Some of these names made us wonder what decade we were in.
Crash Bandicoot with megaphone was used in 90’s commercials to tease Nintendo about Mario’s new competition. How many picked up on this reference?
This title even has Remake in its name. It is nice to see the development sketches and behind the scene look.
LEGO Star Wars has had a successful run with toys and TV shows. Many years ago, they developed games based on the movie trilogies. To celebrate the final series, Episode 9, they are about to release a brand new (reboot) of the game covering all 9 movies. It will include new game play like open world exploration that is typical in today’s games.
Making a mini version of an old system, loading it with games and giving it HDMI is a trend. Turbo Graphic announced that they are doing something similar as well.
Retro arcade gaming was popular.
Old games were on hand in new, large formats.
Modular system to play all classic games from different platforms.
In “Destroy All Humans” the player is an alien sent to earth to destroy all humans. It takes place in the 1940-50 era. This is a remake of a brand from the mid-2000's.
Contributors: Gil Cavada, George Guffey, Erik Moses, Jake Vail, John Hannon, Brian Perille