At this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, the Mecca of electronic gaming industry, gamers got a sneak preview of new handheld 3D gaming devices and plenty of 3D game titles and consoles, which support arm waving to control game movements. And guess what? All this is set to hit the stores near you very soon.
As Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo bring new consoles and games, the PC and console market in India, estimated to be $20 million, is only set to grow.
The global games market, according to market research firm, NPD, had a good run last year. Nintendo Wii and Sony Playstation 3 had 17 games topping sales of 1 million units worldwide, while 26 games of the Microsoft Xbox 360 topped 1 million units worldwide.
The gimmicky motion controls not only made Nintendo's console seem easy fun for the whole family, but it also gave Microsoft and Sony the bright idea of rehashing the technology into their own consoles, instead of launching expensive new consoles at the five-year mark (the Xbox 360 has been out since 2005).
According to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and the Indian Market Research Bureau on the Indian gaming industry, there are 9.8 million offline PC gamers, 7.2 million online gamers, while 1.1 million play on their consoles and 6.1 use mobile phones to play games.
Here's a lowdown on what your favourite gaming brands promise to offer this year.
You have heard, seen, loved and, perhaps, even exercised on Nintendo Wii consoles. Many have even grown up with Nintendo's handheld devices like the DS. In 2010, Nintendo promises to deliver 3D on its portable gaming platform the 3DS, likely to be launched by the end of the year. After the DS Lite, the DSi, and its fatter cousin the DSi XL, the 3DS will be able to use its Wi-Fi to download both virtual magazines and newspapers.
It's impossible to say how Nintendo pulled off its glasses-free 3D technology without trying the 3DS for ourselves, but we spoke to a few people who attended the E3 and they swear the effect works just fine. A slider on the side of the handheld allows the 3D effect to be fine-tuned or turned off altogether and, while 3D gaming could be seen as just another marketing gimmick, the handheld console could actually prove to be the ideal home for it.
The 3D effect is achieved by placing what's called a parallax barrier over the LCD screen. This means a user has to view the image from a very particular angle to appreciate it - a distinct drawback if used on a full-sized television in a living room, but perfect for a miniature screen held in your hand.
Nintendo did not announce when the gadget would be available to consumers or say how much it would cost. But, with the Nintendo DS already commanding a chunk of the portable console market, it's safe to assume that the Nintendo 3DS,too, would sell like hot cakes.
The big announcement from Sony this year is a new, motion-sensing controller for the PS3,called the Move. The controller is like Nintendo's Wii controllers and works with the PlayStation Eye Camera to detect the position and movement of the player's body.
Togo with the controller, Sony has also announced a Sports Champions Game, along with a shooting attachment for the Move controller. The game will include Disc Golf, Gladiator Duel, Beach Volleyball, Archery, Table Tennis and Bocce. By March 2011, Sony hopes to have at least 40 titles available for use with the Move controller. These would include NBA 2K11, Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2011, Time Crisis: Razing Storm, and Toy Story 3.
Sonywill bring Move by September this year, with a steep entry fee. To get the full Move experience, you will need to invest in a Move controller, worth Rs 2,300 ($50); an EyeToy, for Rs 1,400 ($30); and a Navigation controller, worth Rs 1,400 ($30). Some games will even require two Move controllers, one in each hand. That's Rs 5,100 (approximately) per person, with extra cost for game titles. And, we all know from the Wii experience that motion-controlled gaming is best done in a group. So, go figure.
Sony is also pushing stereoscopic 3D. Every PS3 will receive a software update that will enable 3Dgaming. However, gamers will still have to wear glasses, unlike Nintendo's 3DS. Taking advantage of 3D, they would release a ton of new games - both new and old. The PS3 will also get another update for 3D Blu-ray titles sometime later this year.
Microsoft,which recently lost its mantle as the world's largest technology company to Apple, got one up on Nintendo. It unveiled the new Kinect - an XBox peripheral that interprets what you want to do by tracking your body movements.
Previously codenamed Project Natal, Kinect plugs into any Xbox 360console and lets you play games by moving around in front of the screen, since the user effectively becomes the controller. There's a camera inside and a depth sensor that allows Kinect to work out what the user is doing, for instance, kicking a football or dancing.
There's also a multi-arraymicrophone that not only detects noises but also locates where they are. As far as games are concerned, Kinect-enabled titles include Kinect Sports and Dance Central. What Microsoft showed off at the E3 seems distinctly akin to Wii games - Kinect Sports in particular looks a lot like Wii Sports.
Braceyourself for the noise kids will make, jumping, stomping and running as they control their game characters on Kinect.
But, will the arm-wavingNintendo Wii console now stand challenged by Microsoft's Kinect? Probably not, Wii was the original motion control console, after all.