Skip to main content

Imagining the next-generation gaming experience

3d Gaming PC
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Both Sony and Nintendo are finally talking about their next-generation gaming consoles, and next week’s E3 show promises to reveal even more details. Over the last few months, I’ve been playing with OnLive, which is being built into some of the next-generation of PCs. We’ve seen the social aspects of gaming drift out of MMOs like World of Warcraft into first-person shooters, and most of the game console makers have started exploring the various aspects of community gaming. But where is this all going? With the E3 gaming conference coming up fast; let’s explore the next generation of gaming.


One of the coolest aspects of OnLive is that you can start a game on any PC, then play on a variety of PCs while retaining your current state of play. In other words, you can start it at home, and on your break, finish it at work. Granted, this doesn’t work with MMOs unless everyone else wants to wait for you, but in linear games where you are working against a storyline, it is a great way to progress. With MMOs, you can enter a game from any PC once you log in and download the client (which can take several hours). OnLive also allows you to at least observe a game on an iPad, but you can’t play it yet, and I’m not aware of any MMOs that allow that yet. Xbox Live has games for Windows 7 Phones, but they are different than those for the Xbox itself. Meanwhile, Sony is allowing some older PlayStation games to work on its upcoming Sony Ericsson phones.

Clearly, vendors are exploring multi-platform gaming, but no one has it right yet. However, you could tweak different aspects of a game to fit varying devices and interfaces, and cause an online game to span devices. That is where I think the industry will eventually head.

For instance, in World of Warcraft you could create new races of characters that would be controlled through the more limited phone, tablet, or TV interfaces, but still participate in large group events while having different missions to complete. You could create new pets that players can level up through the phone or tablet, but then get the benefit of the enhanced pet when playing off the PC, or take over a friend’s pet, giving it more intelligence and purpose (at least we’d hope you’d play better than a NPC). You could allow players to earn gold at a faster pace by taking over the NPCs, allowing them to move more naturally in a game, with controls catered to a smaller device. You could even take over birds and drop in on friends for an in-game chat.

But the point is that with the increasing variety of devices and a rich game environment, people can play together collaboratively just by adjusting aspects of the game to fit the device that is connecting to it.

iPod Touch remoteUsing a phone or tablet as a touch controller

We are seeing folks like Skifta take your phone or tablet and turn it into a remote control. I expect we’ll have apps that will turn it into a richer game controller as well. You could then reconfigure the screen to address unique aspects of the TV-based game and better shift between tasks. For instance, in Halo, when you took over a Hog or one of the flying machines, the phone or tablet display could show instruments and use its accelerometers to shift to more of a wheel or stick as a control interface. Granted, this would likely require some advancement in touch screens to reduce latency for first-person shooters, but for puzzle games it could be very useful. Clearly, as a controller for existing and upcoming game consoles, the tablets and smartphones would be very powerful today.


3D TVs just haven’t been the hit a lot of analysts expected they would be, largely due to the lack of compelling content and the expense of the 3D glasses. However, Nvidia has shown that 3D works out of the box with many games today, and that it can look pretty stunning. We are already seeing it on some handheld gaming systems, but the real push will likely come from the console makers, who will move beyond HD with the next generation to 3D for the wow factor that will sell new consoles and games. Because games are generally played with one person and never more than two on the same screen, the glasses issue is reduced, and game players buy expensive accessories all the time to enhance their gaming experience. I’m guessing that even Nintendo will want to be on board with that, since it was hurt by missing the HD wave with the Wii.

In-game commerce

Ads have been coming into games for some time, but given more are connected now, why not more opportunities to buy real items in-game? For instance, imagine outfitting your character, then getting an offer of a t-shirt with your character in one of a number of battle poses. Or a decal for your car or something with your gamer tag on it. In racing games, you could be told about deals by a local dealer on cars similar to the one you just drove in game. Others could offer posed pictures of everyone in your guild or group. While you are waiting for a group to form, you could be served advertisements on food, movies that are similar to the game, or offers tied to your profile. If you enabled this ad viewing, you might see a discount on your monthly fees, or on the next game you buy. You can already buy things with real or game money in many games; it is just a small jump to create offers that would be tied to real-world items. Gaming and shopping in one place… hmmm, my wife may like that feature better than I do.

Changes ahead

Gaming is in the process of crossing platforms, trickling into reality through products, and embracing 3D. Where smartphones and tablets become windows into the games, people can engage online from any device at any time, often right where they have left off. Gaming capability is already being built into TVs, and ten years from now kids will likely be asking their parents what a gaming console was and why anyone would need one, making you too feel really old. Can you hardly wait until an NPC comes up and instead of yelling a battle cry, asks you if you want a discount on your next burger? Isn’t progress grand?

Editors' Recommendations

Rob Enderle
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Rob is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. Before…
This console generation isn’t about games or hardware. It’s about services
A character stands below a ship in Starfield.

It’s been over two years since the start of the current console generation, which launched with a rocky start at the end of 2020. You'd think it's been more than long enough to understand what it's all about, but for many, there's still confusion. That might be changing this year. As Tomas Franzese wrote earlier this month, 2023 could be the year where we finally see what games define this generation’s consoles, at least in terms of exclusives. He also noted that games could stop being cross-platform, launching on just current-gen consoles instead of simultaneously on last-gen ones.

While that'll finally give us some memorable games, it doesn't bring us closer to defining the hardware itself. Besides a few extra teraflops and new ultra-fast SSDs, there isn’t much that helps the PS5 and Xbox Series X and S stand out from their predecessors. Sure, the PS5 looks like a giant spaceship, and the Xbox Series X is built like a fridge, but we didn’t know what these devices could offer that the PS4 and Xbox One couldn’t besides some pretty lighting effects and virtually non-existent loading times.

Read more
Summer Game Fest returns just before E3 2023 next June
The official artwork confirming Summer Game Fest's return on June 8, 2023.

Geoff Keighley has confirmed when Summer Game Fest will return in June 2023. It will begin with a live kickoff show on June 8, 2023, placing Keighley's game announcement alternative less than a week before E3's grand (intended) 2023 return.
Unlike past years, Summer Game Fest Live Kickoff 2023 will feature a live audience, like Geoff Keighley's The Game Awards. It will take place in the YouTube Theater at Hollywood Park, with tickets going on sale in early 2023. It will still be livestreamed across platforms like YouTube and Twitch, though. It's currently unknown who's participating, how long Summer Game Fest will run afterward, or if it will feature a Summer Game Fest Play Days-like element for fans. Still, Keighley says all of that info will be revealed ahead of the event next year, teasing what people can expect. 
"In keeping with tradition, we'll have tons of exciting announcements from the developers that are pushing the games industry forward, and will once again highlight other publisher digital events, demos, and more surprises to be announced in the coming months," Keighley says in a press release. 
That June 8 start date, and the other Summer Game Fest events likely to follow, put Keighley's show just ahead of E3 2023. The ESA and ReedPop plan to bring E3 back between June 13 and June 16, 2023. With five days of lead time on E3, Summer Game Fest can coexist with the long-running gaming conference and encompass the plethora of publisher showcases that tend to precede E3.
Geoff Keighley made it clear that he wants Summer Game Fest and E3 to coexist for a while. "We've had extensive conversations with ReedPop about E3," he said in an interview with Epic Games Store. "I think it'll kind of fit together and flow kind of from what we're doing into what they're doing and stuff. E3, to me, is this kind of master brand that represents gaming news in June."
With the start date of Summer Game Fest confirmed, the coexistence of these two summer gaming events is a reality. Summer Game Fest returns on June 8, 2023.

Read more
Splatoon 3 crosses over with Pokémon Scarlet and Violet for next Splatfest
Squid kids wearing green, red, and blue outfits.

Splatoon 3 is collaborating with Pokémon to host a special Splatfest to commemorate the upcoming release of Pokémon Scarlet and Violetin November.

Like previous Splatoon 3 Splatfests, the latest one will feature three teams competing for Turf War dominance over the course of a weekend. The November Splatfest will utilize that tri-team setup in a clever way: by letting teams choose their favorite Pokémon starter type. Players can either choose team Grass, Fire, or Water. They'll get a matching shirt to represent their respective team. The competition kicks off on November 11 before the release of the new Pokémon installments.

Read more