4 hot top­ics at E3 expo

New tech­nol­ogy will drive dis­cus­sion at the video game in­dus­try con­fer­ence in L.A.

Los Angeles Times - - TECHNOLOGY - By Paresh Dave paresh.dave@latimes.com Twit­ter: @peard33

At the video game in­dus­try’s big con­fer­ence in Los An­ge­les, it’s tech­nol­ogy as much as the games that’s driv­ing dis­cus­sions this year.

Stream­ing tech­nol­ogy is rapidly bring­ing more games to more de­vices. New dis­play tech­nol­ogy is show­ing prom­ise for ig­nit­ing a new form of gam­ing. And mo­bile tech­nol­ogy, of course, con­tin­ues to sprout new gamers ad­dicted to ca­sual op­tions like “Candy Crush” and “De­spi­ca­ble Me.”

Most of the nearly 300 com­pa­nies ex­hibit­ing at the Elec­tronic En­ter­tain­ment Expo, or E3, at the Los An­ge­les Con­ven­tion Cen­ter this week are game de­vel­op­ers. But a num­ber of vir­tual-re­al­ity tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies and other tech de­vel­op­ers will be on hand as well.

Here’s a look at four of the top top­ics that gamers, de­vel­op­ers, cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tives and oth­ers among the 50,000 in at­ten­dance will be talk­ing about:

Vir­tual-re­al­ity gog­gles, which sur­round users’ field of view with a dig­i­tal dis­play, are mak­ing their way onto the mar­ket and are likely to be the most buzzed-about thing at E3 for the sec­ond straight year.

Gamers and an­a­lysts will be watch­ing to see which gog­gles will get which games. And they’ll be hunt­ing for hints of which ex­ist­ing games will be­come ex­clu­sively avail­able on cer­tain gog­gles.

Ex­clu­sive ac­cess to games has been a key way for Mi­crosoft and Sony to dif­fer­en­ti­ate their Xbox and PlayS­ta­tion con­soles. Now Mi­crosoft’s mixed-re­al­ity viewer HoloLens is likely to be the only one to get build­ing game “Minecraft.” Sony, which is de­vel­op­ing a vir­tual-re­al­ity viewer, said at a news con­fer­ence Mon­day night that it’s work­ing on a built-for-VR fight­ing game that pits teams of three against one another. That’s a con­trast to most an­nounced VR games, which have been for a sin­gle player.

Com­pa­nies will also bet­ter ex­plain how vir­tual-re­al­ity games will be played. Play­ers can’t just look down at their con­trollers be­cause their eyes are cov­ered by the gog­gles, so voice com­mands, ac­ces­sory de­vices and even body suits could be­come im­por­tant to VR gam­ing.

Rev­enue from smart­phone and tablet games rep­re­sents the fast-growth por­tion of the $75-bil­lion global video game in­dus­try, with app-based gam­ing ac­count­ing for nearly $15 bil­lion in rev­enue, ac­cord­ing to Price­wa­ter­house­Coop­ers. But how to spread that wealth to more de­vel­op­ers will be among the ques­tions at E3. Many of the top mo­bile games come from a hand­ful of com­pa­nies. The next wave of growth is ex­pected to con­tinue to come in from abroad, giv­ing those big com­pa­nies that have the abil­ity to mar­ket in places like Hungary and In­dia another edge.

Sales of dig­i­tal games are in­creas­ing. That means more play­ers are buy­ing dig­i­tal copies of games, in­clud­ing apps, as op­posed to in­stead of DVDs or CDs. Game mak­ers are also bundling games into sub­scrip­tions. How those pro­grams ex­pand to of­fer more ben­e­fits will be closely watched. Elec­tronic Arts said Mon­day that it’s adding a cou­ple more games to its $5-amonth EA Ac­cess sub­scrip­tion to in­crease the li­brary to 12 games.

On the games front, de­tails about a pair of new “Stars Wars”-themed games will give an in­di­ca­tion of how well Dis­ney can turn its new prop­erty into a money­maker. A new “Stars Wars” game and “Star Wars” char­ac­ters com­ing to Dis­ney’s “In­fin­ity” game should help keep in­ter­est in the fran­chise high ahead of the new film “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awak­ens,” which is sched­uled for re­lease in De­cem­ber.

The list of other top ti­tles pre­mier­ing at E3 is filled with se­quels. Those in­clude “Halo 5: Guardians,” which Mi­crosoft showed off Mon­day, and “Fall­out 4,” which game devel­oper Bethesda Soft­works high­lighted Sun­day.

Mark Ral­ston AFP/Getty Im­ages

AN AU­DI­ENCE WATCHES a preview of the “Halo 5: Guardians” video game dur­ing Mi­crosoft’s Xbox media brief­ing Mon­day at the Elec­tronic En­ter­tain­ment Expo at the Los An­ge­les Con­ven­tion Cen­ter.

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