With CES looming like an electrically charged storm of news and announcements, it's time for us to give you our best bets on what you'll see come January. During the month of December, we'll bring you a series of CES preview posts, forecasting what you can expect when the news deluge begins. For more of what's to come, check out our hub.
Gaming and CES are estranged partners -- CES spawned the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 for short) way back in 1995, after gaming exhibitors required more space than CES could offer. As such, the game industry's presence at CES is ... well, there isn't much of a presence to speak of. Smart, smaller companies have traditionally taken good advantage of this; CES 2012 featured the unveiling of the Wikipad and Razer's Project Fiona, while Gaikai gave us our first hands-on with its LG-based game streaming service. As for the big three console manufacturers? Nintendo gave press another chance to check out the Wii U, but it was nothing more than the E3 demo many had seen months earlier.
2013 is shaping up to be similar in many regards, with Razer's Project Fiona -- following a crowdsourcing of its specs -- finally getting a final form factor. Of course, it's unlikely that's the only news we'll hear from the gaming-centric hardware manufacturer this year, and we'll have CEO Min-Liang Tan on our stage to talk all about both the knowns and unknowns. Similarly, Nyko will be on-hand showcasing new console peripherals, no doubt with a focus on Nintendo's brand-new Wii U. NVIDIA's yet-to-be-announced Tegra 4 could also make an appearance, though we're inclined to say it'll wait for Mobile World Congress in February (like so many mobiles missing from CES).
And then there's exciting dark horse possibilities like the first "Steambox" prototypes -- not from Valve, mind you, but from third parties jumping in on the action. Valve head Gabe Newell already predicted that various PC manufacturers would be getting in on the living room-friendly action in 2013, combining low-cost PC hardware with Steam's Linux version and the upcoming Big Picture Mode (already available to Windows and OS X users). Of all the possibilities, this one is both the most exciting and the most unlikely, so we're holding onto our four-leaf clovers with a hefty helping of skepticism.
As for the much-ballyhooed "next generation" of gaming consoles, CES 2013 is a rather unlikely place for unveils. Nintendo isn't attending CES in any official capacity -- as of yet, at least -- so we don't expect to see anything on the Wii U or 3DS front (aside from the aforementioned third-party peripherals, that is). Microsoft notoriously ended its annual CES keynotes last year, and Sony's focus tends to be on its electronics and mobile wings rather than the PlayStation brand. We'll no doubt see mentions of Sony's PlayStation Mobile service, and we're hoping that Sony will finally show off the fruits of that Gaikai acquisition (though that may wait until E3, sadly), but don't hold your breath for the next PlayStation or Xbox announcements.
As per usual, the games industry and CES are acquaintances at best -- at least from what we've heard thus far. Perhaps this will be the year that bucks the years-long trend, but we're not betting on it.