Mobile Madness on E3 Opening
By Justin Hall, Wed May 12 07:15:00 GMT 2004

Mobile hardware announcements from major companies dominated the world's videogame showcase.


Each May in Los Angeles, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) hosts discussions and demonstrations about the next generation of electronic entertainment.

For years now, E3 has had a strong mobile presence, but this may turn out to be the year that mobile gaming overshadowed the rest of the show. Two major entertainment companies demonstrated their next hardware devices, and many game software design companies announced an invigorated commitment to mobile gaming. This created a first day of news stories that focused on the pockets of game players.

Sony showed a more evolved hardware prototype of their PlayStationPortable device. Itís quite media friendly -- featuring a big screen, memory cards, game cartridges, and 802.11b. Perhaps this might claim some of the IPod-like digital lifestyle device market that Sony has thus far ceded to Apple? While the PSP is being designed and marketed as primarily a game machine, itís clearly a full-powered mobile entertainment device. Sony is hoping to have it ready by late this year, or early 2005.

Nintendo aspired to focus on gameplay innovation with their next device, demonstrated for the first time today: the ďDouble Screen.Ē Folding open like a GameBoy Advance SP, the device has a second screen that is touch sensitive, like a Palm device. With a stylus, or your finger, you can tap or push the graphics on one screen around possibly affecting the action on the other screen. Nintendo plans to publish a raft of games that use these innovative interfaces and screen real estate when the device comes out later this year.

Nintendoís device features short-range wireless with Bluetooth, and both devices are reputed to support 802.11b. Since both are also reported to have support for voice input and earpieces, itís possible that these devices could someday support communications as well as theyíre likely to support single-player gaming fun. Nokia staged an event to demonstrate the next hardware version of their N-Gage gaming mobile phone. They have prepared the next wave of games with a number of mobile multiplayer titles. Somewhere between the touch-double screen, the PSPís mobile media, and the N-Gageís built-in community capacity, there should soon be some serious innovation in mobile games as these hardware giants battle for our traveling thumbs.