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E3 So Far: Integrate ALL The Things!

So we’ve made it through another night of E3 and some serious trends are starting to emerge for the next year. Well, okay, maybe it’s one trend, and everyone is getting into it: cross-platform integration. Sony just announced enhanced Cross-Play between the PS3 and Playstation Vita, as well as the kinda-ridiculous “Wonderbook” peripheral. Microsoft announced that we’d finally be able to browse the Internet through the Xbox 360, but that we’d be doing so via Internet Explorer 8, presumably to make sure Grandma and Grandpa feel comfortable using the Internet.

"Oh, another toolbar! How convenient."

Microsoft also unveiled Smart Glass, a service that allows a multi-device connection between Xbox 360, tablets, and smartphones. Basically, they nabbed the idea behind the Wii-U, but instead of requiring customers to purchase an exclusive tablet, Microsoft has cobbled together a type of mini-cloud with the devices we already own. Instead of investing in a new peripheral, they simply integrated all our devices into a new service. This will work well with the multi-media angle Microsoft has been going for in the last couple years, focusing the conference on casual and Kinect games as well as the myriad other services they announced this year.

Not to be outdone, EA also announced several new cross-platform services for their IPs. While their conference mostly consisted of  Guns, Alien Sphincter, Guns, Madden, UFC, Light Sabers, Guns,and Sim City,  they also announced a number of new ways that players could interact with their games.

That's a hell of a bowel movement...

For Madden, we’ll be able to manage teams from our tablets and smartphones (and play as John Madden. Finally.) In a different type of football, they took the liberty of dubbing the FIFA franchise “Footballs’ Social Network,” by connecting FIFA 13 to tablets and smartphones, as well as an iPhone app that connects players to live auctions and stats. Much like Microsoft’s conference, EA is going for cross-platform integration.

Couple this with Sony’s newly renamed Playstion Mobile (Formerly Playstation Suite) now open to third-party Playstation Certification, and we’re looking at a few years of console-turned-mobile gaming. Microsoft, Sony, and EA want us connected to their games and networks 24-hours a day, which is not a bad business plan. Most of us are already tech-dependent junkies, attached to mobile Internet and ease of access. If companies can make it easy enough for consumers to stay in contact with their products, then that’s better for everyone, right?

We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see how Nintendo acts in this new trend, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing the same commitment to round-the-clock game integration from them. For one, they don’t really compete in the multimedia market. In fact, Nintendo is probably the only big game developer that still focuses almost exclusively on games and game systems, so they will probably deliver in their typically reliable field: franchise gaming.

And we can’t leave market goals out of their conference either: despite the abundance of casual games being produced for Microsoft, Nintendo still has considerable control in the family and kid’s market. I think we’ll have to wait until kids start carrying around smartphones on a more regular basis before Nintendo enters that market.

Still, the next few years are going to be extremely important, as companies dump money into developing new and more immersive ways for us to interact with games.

If the last two decades were dedicated to the “Console Wars,” the next few years will see a market battle between integrated game spaces.

Colin is a columnist here at Default Prime. He's a gamer, unprofessional writer, and plays a mean bass kazoo. He thinks the gaming industry has a lot of growing to do, but he's eager to see where it goes.

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