Judging from the gaming news coming out of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show — and fans’ reaction to it — console gaming, like PC computing, is a relic of a sunset era. Or at least that’s what NVIDIA (NVDA) appears to be aiming for.
Most breakthroughs on display at CES introduced new ways to bring high-end games to mobile devices or TVs. For NVIDIA’s Project Shield — an all-in-one portable gaming platform that’ll feel familiar to anyone who’s played an Xbox — that means playing Android games on a built-in display, streaming PC games from a connected computer on a Wi-Fi network, or navigating to online game distributor Valve and its Steam platform for downloading and playing titles purchased there.
- Valve teased the idea of a “Steam Box,” a console substitute based on the Xi3 modular computer that brings your online library straight to your big screen. Investors might remember Xi3 for a near-miss funding campaign launched last year via Kickstarter.
- Sony (SNE) didn’t say much about its PlayStation console, choosing instead to tout 3D gaming and Ultra HD television. Don’t know Ultra HD? Get a bottle of Windex. Scrub the window looking out to your backyard. Admire the crystal-clear picture and then imagine replicating that — bright colors and all — on your big screen. Mix in 3D and you’ve got Sony’s Personal 3D Viewer. Think of it as the classic red Fisher-Price View-Master updated for the 21st century.
- Startup Agawi, which has its own cloud gaming service aimed at smartphones, announced a partnership with chip maker Marvell Technology (MRVL) to bring games to smart TVs based on the Android OS. Between this deal and NVIDIA’s Project Shield, CES has proven particularly fruitful for Google (GOOG), which had no formal presence at the event.
- But Microsoft had wins too, none bigger than the Razer’s Edge tablet gaming platform. CNET named the new Windows 8 tablet its Best of Show for how it rapidly transforms from a handheld into a lightweight laptop and ultimately a mobile gaming console.