The CES 2013 show in Las Vegas may have opened a new causeway for eager gamers, if not the industry as a whole. Companies big and small touted all manner of shiny innovations and gaming was quite remarkably at the forefront. If I sound dismayed, it’s because the ever-brewing cauldron of gaming was not stirred in the slightest by anything new from the “Big Two.” The workhorses from Sony and Microsoft are rolling their wheelchairs up to what will be 7 long years, come this November 2013. To say Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360 are getting long in the tooth, is to cling tenaciously to the underbelly of the understated.
Many may think, “Well of course. CES is never a big show for gaming. That’s left to PAX East, West and beyond, or E3 or Gamescom or the Tokyo Game Show.” True, this has been the past trajectory for the dissemination of breaking gaming news. So with no word of a “Playstation Quadro” or a “NexBox 720,” (yeah I made those up) gamers may wonder just how pivotal could this past Consumer Electronics Show have been “for me and my favorite digital pastime?” We’ve shown off a few pieces. But this time it’s all gaming. I give you…
6 of the Coolest Tech For Gamers To Watch for in 2013
True “holy shi*!” virtual reality is here…almost. The Oculus Rift is just one of the many forward-thinking ideas, which could not be contained by business logistics. Fresh out of a Kickstarter over, and supported by the biggest names in gaming, the Oculus Rift is now in its production stages with a release to market TBA. This is future tech for the here and now that provides an uncanny level of immersion. The Oculus Rift is a wearable 3D device. It can throw up a 720p display resolution right in front of your face (1080p is the final target). Connect your PC via DVI or HDMI. There is also a micro-USB and power connector. It may take a bit to get used to, suddenly being thrust in the middle of giant mech battle (Hawken is supported). But the payoff is reportedly an amazing unprecedented experience. This is essentially a wearable big screen 3D display capable of HD resolutions and it plays virtually all your PC games. It even connects to Nvidia’s Project Shield device.
While Gaikai and OnLive were scrambling to erect and perfect their cloud gaming platforms, Nvidia tinkered in secret like a technical ninja in the shadows. Now OnLive limps along and Gaikai enjoys a new home at Sony. Meanwhile, Nvidia has laid the “GRID.” This is a new cloud gaming service that may indeed change the cloud game sphere as we know it. GRID works with any device, PC, tablet, MAC, Smartphone and TVs. Users can pull games down from the cloud with any of these devices. You can even save and quit on one device and continue playing from another. You will never fight with system settings as game optimization is handled on the server side, on the fly. The bold sever side infrastructure is made up of multiple GPUs per server and multiple users are serviced per GPU. Nvidia’s new VGX HyperVision technology governs GPU resources so a minimum of 36 users–all viewing HD quality content–are serviced on a single server without compromising quality or performance. GRID is purportedly engineered for low-latency. But that’s what any cloud-based service tells all girls. We’ll be watching or streaming this one closely. Pricing and availability TBD!
We’ve talked a bit about Steam Box in the past. It’s really more of an initiative than it is a single product. The first wave of this is initiative is Big Picture–a TV-mode for Steam. The hardware side of Steam Box is multifaceted. It seems Valve are piping “steam” into many different “boxes.” Check here for the small living room-bound Xi3 Steam Box. The Specs look great and all the connectivity options are industry standards used to play nice with your existing peripherals, displays and controllers.
Now Valve has come clean about the Steam Box of their own internal design. This little delay will come powered by a Linux operating system and some unique input functionality. Valve’s Steam Box is internally codenamed: “Bigfoot”. Gabe, 4-star general of the mighty Valve army has been quite vocal about changing the way we game in the living room. Hence the company’s R&D into biometric feedback for controller input. Their focus is, to quote, “build a thing that’s quiet and focuses on high performance … and appropriate form factors.” Part of this is building a new controller from the ground up that uses biometric input. Whether this will be physiological (voice, hand print…etc.) or behavioral (gesturing, repeatable locomotion…etc) has not been stated. However, “gaze tracking” is on the table. In addition a Bigfoot controller would enjoy higher precision and lower latency. Valve’s own Steam Box should go into Beta testing sometime 2013. In one form or another Steam Box is a must-watch for 2013.
Nvidia Project Shield
It’s hard to write enough about this one. Project Shield (placeholder name) allows gamers to take their PC or Android games anywhere. The device is powered by Nvidia’s new Tegra 4 processor. Project Shield is essentially a standard game controller connected to a 5-inch flip-up multi-touch screen. The screen does 720p with ease. Via HDMI, you can connect the Shield to a 1080p HD TV/display. The little bugger even has a built-in 802.11n 2x2MIMO game-speed WiFi adapter for internet and online multiplayer gaming support. It’s running Android Jelly Bean so you have full access to the Android PLAY marketplace for games and apps. You can also pull games down from the Tegra Zone and Nvidia’s GRID cloud gaming service mentioned above. Shield can stream your PC games anywhere you can access an internet connection. Pull games directly from your PC’s steam library of games and stream them to your Shield while at a friend’s house or simply in another room.
Razer Edge Pro
The Edge Pro gaming tablet remains a marvel. I know we’ve gushed and swooned over this one repeatedly. Get used it. More undoubtedly set to come. The Edge Pro gaming tablet from Razer is essentially a lower-end gaming laptop. If you choose to attach the keyboard dock, which is sold separately then that’s exactly what you have. The Razer Edge Pro runs on Windows 8 full, not RT. It’s powered by an i5/i7 processor with 4- or 8gb or RAM and surprisingly conservative GeForce 640M video card. I would be surprised if that GPU didn’t see an upgrade or at least an option for one by launch time. The Edge Pro like any tablet can connect to Nvidia’s GRID platform for streaming games from the cloud. It’s versatility and complement of accessories make the Edge Pro a worthy gaming product to watch as the year unfolds.
Hooray, motion controls! Wait before you all roll your eyes in unison, this is motion control like no other. Leap Motion is a new company working on tech that grants users intuitive motion control with an enhanced level of precision that Microsoft Kinect and Sony Move could only dream. The Leap device connects to your TV via USB and acts as a motion controller for your PC. It can sense 3D objects and even register all 10 of your fingers as separate input cursors. It’s precise enough to allow for stylus-like handwriting via your finger and can be used for playing various video games, manipulating on-screen interfaces and taking control over various software and 3D modeling programs in new interactive ways. As more developers jump onboard we are sure to see new innovative applications turn up. Leap has just inked a new exclusive deal with Best Buy. So expect the surprisingly cheap(ish) Leap Motion to hit outlets near you. Preorder today for $69.99
Shawn loves gadgets, literature, history and games. For 10yrs+ he's straddled both the comic book & video game industries, as a writer, editor, marketing officer & producer. Shawn got his start in tech & games as an editor & Hardware Director for GameRevolution.com. More notable accomplishments include Executive Producer on mobile games Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved & The Shroud.