There’s a 900-pound gorilla stalking the halls and suites of E3: Apple’s iPad. I lost count of how many times tablets were mentioned, and while few game companies specifically mentioned the top-selling tablet, iOS’s hold on gamers is being felt in the mainstream game business.
Microsoft is trying to move out of the living room with SmartGlass, which provides two-way communication between the Xbox 360 and software running on Windows 8 tablets and other Windows 8 devices.
Nintendo’s Wii U Game Pad offers strong similarities to tablets, but the device is more tightly coupled to the Nintendo ecosystem, and doesn’t look like it works as a standalone device.
Sony announced more games integrating the PS Vita with PlayStation 3 games, but Vita’s integration seems even more loosely coupled than SmartGlass. Hedging its bets, Sony also talked up PlayStation Mobile, an attempt to bring PlayStation-style gaming to Android tablets.
PlayStation Mobile could become a credible competitor to iOS, but Sony’s track record in taking on Apple has been spotty, lest anyone forget how Apple took over the portable music player business.
Despite all the companies’ best effort, none of the gaming devices addressed key benefits delivered by the iPad and iPhone: games cost less. Major game companies try to eke out more revenue streams beyond the $60 boxed title. Phrases like EA’s Riccitiello’s “games have evolved from the disc that you buy to the place that you go” are heard more often, and efforts like Battlefield 3 Premium strive to generate revenue beyond the ship date of a title.