When Microsoft showed off Kinect--its motion-gaming answer to Nintendo's Wii and Sony's PlayStation Move--at E3 this month, one key detail was absent: price.
Since then, many industry watchers have estimated that Microsoft will sell Kinect for $150 when it launches November 4. Even Best Buy, Amazon.com, and Wal-Mart, three major gaming retailers, have put the $150 price tag on Kinect listings on their respective Web sites.
So far, though, Microsoft officially has been mum on Kinect's price tag.
LOS ANGELES--When it comes to making a video game based on the life and performances of Michael Jackson, you can bet that the project didn't just happen by accident.
After all, the rights to the music and the likeness of the king of pop are still some of the most valuable in show business. So it was no small feat for game publisher Ubisoft to pull together not just a game based on and named after Jackson, but to be able to guarantee that the game--scheduled for a holiday 2010 release--will feature, at a minimum, mega-hits "Billie Jean" and "Beat it."
Ubisoft announced the forthcoming game at the mammoth E3 convention here on Monday, just shy of a year since the superstar died last summer. The company said that the game will have Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable, and Nintendo Wii and DS versions, and will be compatible with both Microsoft's Kinect and Sony's Move motion control systems. It's not known if it will be one of the 15 launch titles that will be available for Kinect when that system goes on sale on November 4.
The game will "provide an interactive experience that enables players to step into the shoes of Michael Jackson himself and re-live his most iconic performances through their own singing and dancing," Ubisoft said in a release announcing the upcoming title. It "will include the most famous tracks from Michael Jackson's extensive catalog...as well as an array of his awe-inspiring dance moves for players to learn and emulate within the game." … Read more
Nothing makes an E3 show stand out like the collection of costumed characters, full-size monster sculptures, and movielike props that fill the halls, booths, and even the lobbies of the Los Angeles Convention Center.
It's closer at times to a comic book convention than an industry-only trade show, and a pretty good barometer of how the companies involved feel about the overall health of the expo (a frequent topic on conversation over the past few years).
If this last look at E3 2010 has you nostalgic for some of my hands-on hardware testing, trend-spotting, and photo galleries from earlier this week, click past the break for a handy roundup of all my E3 coverage from this year.
The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo typically concentrates on the games major publishers hope consumers will either purchase or put on their holiday wish lists in the coming year. Though there's always a certain amount of hardware, in the form of controllers, accessories, and PCs, for the most part, this a show about software, not hardware.
The exception is when a new game console is launching, and over the many years I've attended the show, I've seen the launches of the Sega Dreamcast; Sony's PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and PSP; Nintendo's GameCube, Wii, and DS; and Microsot's Xbox and Xbox 360. That said, 2010 is the first year without a major living room console launch where I've seen almost all the attention focused firmly on hardware rather than software.
What made this year unique was the presence of both the Microsoft Kinect platform and the PlayStation Move, as well as Nintendo's handheld 3DS console. We'd all seen the Kinect (then called Natal) and Move before, but this was the official holiday season kickoff for both, with finalized names, details, and release dates.
Both motion control systems have their strengths and weaknesses, but I thought that Kinect especially had promise for home entertainment control, and the PlayStation Move provided the kind of precision and accuracy that core gamers would most appreciate.
The 3DS, at risk of being written off as a novelty in the era of me-too 3D, was a surprising success (at least in the small doses it was offered up to attendees), with eyeglass-free 3D that actually seems to work. Though that's only a tiny personal screen for now, it makes those expensive, cumbersome active shutter 3D systems feel like a much tougher sell.
If the technology behind the 3DS holds up, it's really only a matter of time and scale before consumers expect all forms of 3D to not require glasses.
These new hardware devices were impressive in person, but they're all still a tough sell; console add-ons have traditionally not succeeded (from the Sega 32X to the Xbox HD-DVD drive), and Nintendo fans may have upgrade fatigue after the DS, DS Lite, DSi, and DSi XL.
The second major reason this year's E3 felt like it was all about hardware, was that the software largely failed to impress. This left the field wide open for the Kinect, Move, and 3DS to steal the show.
I've already detailed the overreliance on sequels and spin-offs, many on a rapidly accelerated production cycle to feed the need for annual product installments. But, there was a handful of games in development seen either on the show floor or behind closed doors that made my must-play list (and yes, most of them are sequels). In no particular order, they are:… Read more
Both Microsoft and Sony finally showed their respective motion-controlling hands earlier this week at E3 2010. Of course, we'll have full reviews of these products as their release dates approach, but first we're comparing their basic specifications head to head. Here's how they stack up:
LOS ANGELES--If the huge crowds and crowds at E3 this week are any indication, the video game industry is in a lot better shape than a lot of people thought.
All throughout the two main halls at the Los Angeles Convention Center where E3 has been going strong since Tuesday morning, throngs of people make it hard to move, and at booth after booth, if you don't have an appointment, there's little chance you're going to get your hands on any of the hot games and hardware being shown here this year.
For more than a year, there's been a hint of doom and gloom surrounding the industry as its leading analyst, The NPD Group, has reported month after month of year-over-year sales declines. In April, for example, the firm bore the bad tidings that the industry as a whole saw 26 percent year-over-year declines, and that hardware revenues were down 37 percent year-over-year.
But on Wednesday, in a confession clearly timed to hit during the industry's premiere event, NPD admitted that its longstanding methodology for measuring industry sales has ignored some significant streams of revenue. … Read more
LOS ANGELES--If there's one story we seem to write at least every other year at E3, its how the gaming industry is overly reliant on sequels and spin-offs, rarely creating anything truly new. This year, the issue seems bigger than ever, with seemingly few original ideas in a sea of IIs, IIIs, and more.
Case in point: The games big publishers are depending on to carry them through the all-important holiday shopping season are for the most part all retreads of existing games. They include Gears of War 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Fallout: New Vegas, Halo Reach, Dead Space 2, Crysis 2, Civilization V, and new installments in the Rock Band and Guitar Hero franchises (a separate-but-related issue is the "rebooting" of vintage games, such as Kid Icarus or GoldenEye).
Its overly simplistic to blame a conceptual lack of originality for the deficit of new ideas, stories, and characters. Video games generally don't function under the auteur theory that many of the best films do, crafted by a singular creative vision (with a few high-profile exceptions); instead they more often are the ultimate example of art by committee. Game developers essentially create "work for hire" on behalf of publishers, which in turn resemble nothing so much as the classic 1940's Hollywood studio system, where studio bosses pulled the strings and set the agenda. … Read more
This week on preGAME we take an in-depth look at all three major E3 2010 press conferences. If you didn't get to catch those shows live, make sure to tune in here as we run through each conference, picking apart every announcement, game, and hardware debut.
We've got dozens of videos to show, displaying the latest and greatest from the world of gaming, including Nintendo 3DS hands-on, Microsoft Kinect, and PlayStation Move gameplay. Also, we'll be checking out game trailers for blockbuster titles like Portal 2, Twisted Metal, Zelda: Skyward Sword, and Gears of War 3.
So … Read more