LOS ANGELES -- Last week's Electronic Entertainment Expo, held here June 14-17, featured a wide variety of new and updated videogames. For home videogame players, there were highly anticipated updates of past bestsellers like Golden Eye 007, Twisted Metal, Halo and even Donkey Kong. But for the nearly 50,000 showgoers, the real draw was a trio of innovative user interfaces unveiled by Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony.
Microsoft's motion-sensing Kinect add-on for Xbox 360, formerly known as Project Natal, eliminates handheld controllers altogether as it scans the player's body with infrared and integrates movements into a game. The hands-free controller, long dubbed by industry insiders to be the "Wii killer," worked as promised, but suffered from lag time, according to critics. Expected to sell for under $200, Kinect not only works with games, but also allows for hands-free control of other Xbox features like menu navigation.
Sony also rolled out its own technology for the PlayStation similar to the Wii. PlayStation Move, which quickly became known as the "high-def Wii," supports 3D gaming applications when used with special glasses. But critics are questioning the size of the 3D market, given the limited number of the high-priced screens and glasses owned by consumers.
For many at the E3 show, Nintendo's 3DS handheld was the standout product. The dual-screen portable features true 3D images on a 3.52"-wide screen (800x240 resolution) and a slightly smaller 3.02" touchscreen (320x240 resolution) positioned below it. The unit has three built-in cameras, one on the top screen and two exterior cameras to capture 3D images, and a novel "depth slider" that lets users adjust the level of 3D effect.
All three products are expected to be available by the holiday season, though none has yet to emerge as the "must have" gamer gift.