E3, Gamescom, EGX; three names you might think of before CES when it comes to gaming. CES is more about robot dogs, stupidly huge TVs and smart toilets…right?
Well, kind of. CES definitely throws out plenty of weird and wacky launches, though its status among the gaming community has always been fairly strong. From the original Xbox launch back in 2001, gaming has had a strong presence for at least several years now.
So, to remind us all what CES gaming launches have meant for the industry as we start gearing up to the show, we’ve put together a quick rundown of our favourite products and key themes from Vegas in recent years, as well as a little bit of future gazing. All you need to do is boot up your Zephyrus, settle into your favourite Secretlab Omega, and read on.
The VR revolution
VR. One of the most exciting, though equally frustrating, bits of tech in recent years. From Google’s rudimentary-though-charming Daydream headset to full systems that’ll set you back a mortgage, VR has cropped up in many different forms. And at the forefront of it all, as per, has been CES.
HTC has been leading the CES VR charge in recent years, launching perhaps the most important product in the field at 2018’s show; the HTC Vive Pro. With better resolution than the original, integrated 3D audio, dual front-facing cameras, two mics and a slightly redesigned head strap, it was a well-received update from the brand.
Just as key however was the HTC Vive Wireless Adapter. Capable of turning the tethered VR headsets into wireless devices, the new bit of kit works both with the original and the Vive Pro, cutting you free from your PC station.
Elsewhere, the Black Box VR showed us a glimpse into the ways in which the technology affects other areas of our day-to-day life. Again, using a Vive, the kit combines video game playing with a strength training workout. Making users sweat while they get stuck into their favourite games, it won Engadget’s award for the best startup at the show. Which must make it legit, right?
Gaming on the move
Long gone are the days when it was necessary to hook up to a console or PC to play a decent game. Brands such as Nintendo, ASUS, Acer and MSI are proving that you can game to a high standard on the move. Or, at the very least, you can take your gear more easily from A to B.
On the thinner end of the scale, Acer launched the Swift 7, at the time the world’s slimmest laptop, primarily to appeal to the general working traveller demographic. Thankfully for gamers, its Core i7 processor also means that it can keep you going on the move, as long as you aren’t looking to dive into anything too intensive.
ASUS also proved itself again to be one of the leaders in the field by launching the ROG G703. The world’s first gaming laptop with an ultra-smooth 17.3-inch Full HD wide-view display with NVIDIA G-Sync technology for a 144Hz refresh rate, it took gaming to a new place in an (almost) portable format.
Razer’s Project Linda however is the indisputable winner. Allowing the Razer phone to be slid into the base of the Razer laptop, it turns the phone into a touchpad, providing computing power and software in a revolutionary, if slightly bizarre, CES gaming launch.
Keeping the nostalgia strong
It’s not all uber futuristic in the Vegas halls. There are occasional nods to tech from yesteryear. The recent revival of older gaming tech has won more than a few plaudits and got gamers’ tongues wagging all over the world.
2018 saw two favourites rebooted by Hyperkin; the Game Boy and the SFC. Hyperkin’s new Ultra Game Boy arrived encased in aluminium, while the SupaBoy SFC gave users the choice to connect to other SNES controllers as well as a TV. Both launches also supported old cartridges, making it easy as to jump back in with Professor Oak or Link.
The Merge 6Dof Blaster, meanwhile, was an innovative combination of the old and new. Taking the design of a purple laser gun and adding a slot to stick your phone in, the clever bit of kit uses ARKit and ARCore to track movements and display enemies on the phone’s display, meaning you can shoot away at AR enemies to your heart’s content.
Which, let’s be honest, is exactly the kind of stupid fun most of us want from our gaming gear.
So what’s next?
Good question. If we were to put money on it, these are two features we reckon might play a part in defining 2019’s CES gaming scene:
VR will be taking a bit of a break
There are currently a number of remakes of big games being reworked as VR releases. Although this is great for the tech in the near future, it does mean that VR gaming launches at CES 2019 will be lighter than in previous years.
Valve is currently working on its own VR headset, which will be released in 2019 and include Half-Life. We also expect a remake of Red Dead Redemption 1 the same year, as the game lends itself particularly well to VR and is front of mind following the recent Red Dead Redemption 2 launch. Admittedly there’s been no news on this just yet, though watch this space.
Insights into the new generation of consoles
2020 seems like it’s going to be the year of the next generation of consoles. With Sony looking to be aiming towards a Christmas 2019 launch of its PS5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Two gearing up for a 2020 release date, gamers everywhere are saving their pennies in earnest.
What that means for CES 2019 is it is likely to play host to some new revelations for the forthcoming consoles. Sony has recently announced that it’s going to be skipping E3 2019, which could mean that Vegas is used as an opportunity to update the world on its much-loved console.
We’ll have to wait and see what exactly it unveils, though we’re hoping it’ll be enough to get us starting our Christmas 2019 countdown early.