Last week I attended my third CES in a row. And, as you’d imagine, I saw most of the latest in innovative new technology: connected appliances, uncanny robotics, and breathtaking vehicles I’ll never be able to afford. However, this year in particular, I was looking around the massive landscape thinking one thing: Where’s all my gaming tech? Well, I was also thinking about where the food court was, but that’s an article for another time.
OK, let’s be fair here: there was still a gaming presence at the event this year. AtGames showed off their incredible Legends Ultimate arcade cabinet. My Arcade’s booth had mini devices and mini arcade cabinets featuring classics such as Street Fighter II and Pac-Man. Arcade1Up showed off their … giant arcade cabinets. You see where I’m going with this?
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good arcade experience. I’m the proud owner of a number of mini cabinets and retro consoles. Too proud, some people would say. However, I also found it strange that most of the gaming-related devices that I saw showcased at this massive event were arcade-related.
Now, there was other hardware that made an appearance at CES 2020. Xiaomi showed off its Black Shark 2 Pro, a hybird mobile phone and gaming console, Alienware showcased its Concept UFO prototype (think a tablet meets a Nintendo Switch), and Razer put the spotlight on their Junglecat controller, essentially turning your Android into a Switch. These reveals, along with PC-related showcases from other companies, seem to completely deny the continued popularity of console gaming and, in turn, the importance of gaming’s biggest companies.
Obviously, E3 is the big hurrah in terms of big gaming announcements. However, we’ve seen in recent years how major companies such as Sony and Nintendo have opted to skip the biggest gaming event altogether. So … why not win over some more casual potential gamers with a showcase at CES? Considering how lucrative the gaming industry is, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo wouldn’t be terribly out of place at a show with appearances from Samsung, Amazon, and Google. (Before you correct me in the comments, I know Microsoft and Sony were at the show, but they didn’t focus on their gaming products. So there.)
And that’s just the big guys. What about indie developers that want to gain a bit of traction but don’t want to get lost in the massive sea of games at the IndieCade at E3? The next Bendy and the Ink Machine or Untitled Goose Game might be buried at a gaming-focused event, but would have much more freedom at a CES-type show.
Having attended both CES and E3, I can see the unique opportunities a gaming company would have at either event. CES unites tech enthusiasts all around the spectrum, many of which could be console converts after a simple demo. On the other hand, E3, while a crowded field, provides plenty of opportunity for gaming companies to show off their absolute best. Is it so out there to see Nintendo make an appearance at CES 2021? Currently, yes. But hey, they’ve done crazier things before. Remember the Power Glove?