E3 2014 So Far: The future of gaming from Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, and Oculus

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E3 2014 is an overwhelming onslaught of the new. Literally hundreds of games booming from all sides of the Los Angeles Convention Center, with thousands and thousands of ravenous, devoted fans and curious newcomers alike jostling for a chance to play a little piece of the future.

From the outside, it doesn't look dissimilar to any E3 of the past twenty years. Many of the same icons loom large. There's Mortal Kombat's ridiculously violent theatrics, Tomb Raider's Lara Croft has risen again, and even elder statesman Pac-Man made a splash. What's remarkable about this E3 in particular, though, is that beneath the deluge we see the major players of the gaming industry diverging in strange ways. Here's a look at how Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, and Facebook's billion-dollar baby Oculus VR are choosing their paths.


Microsoft unveils the multimedia future of Halo

Halo gave Microsoft the most financially successful entertainment launch – including movies, music, and video games – not once but twice thanks to Halo 2 in 2004 and Halo 3 in 2007. It's no wonder then that Microsoft is celebrating the series' history with Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One this fall, and why that package has figured so heavily at E3 2014. Going forward, though, Microsoft is gunning to make Halo the cross-media property it's always wanted to be. That collection not only gives access to an early version of Halo 5: Guardians due in December, but also access to Halo: Nightfall, a live action television series. Microsoft has talked a great deal in the past of television's role in the future of Xbox, and this is the first major initiative to make those plans a reality.


Sony turns to streaming and small affordable devices to shore up PlayStation 4's empire

PlayStation 4 was the star of Sony's E3 press conference, and with more than 7 million consoles sold, that machine earned its spot. Sony also laid out cunning plans for a forward-thinking support network of products and services to bolster the PS4 and its library of games. The first of these is PlayStation Now, a Netflix-style streaming services that will pump some twenty years of PlayStation game content not just to PlayStation 4, but Sony-made televisions without a console. Sony also announced plans to bring the PlayStation TV to the west, a tiny, $99 set top box that both plays the same games as the PS Vita handheld gaming machine, but also streams games from the PlayStation Now service. PlayStation TV can even stream PS4 games to another television in the home.


Nintendo turns to toys with Amiibo and Super Smash Bros. Wii U.

Activision's Skylanders has earned $2 billion worldwide in just a few short years. Disney Infinity sold more than 3 million copies within weeks of release. It's no wonder that Nintendo sees a golden opportunity in pushing its struggling Wii U console by embracing the new market that links action figure toys to video games. Nintendo detailed the peculiarly named Amiibo toy line at E3 2014 alongside new details about Super Smash Bros. Wii U and 3DS, the newest entries its popular fighting game series, the last of which sold some 14 million copies on Nintendo Wii. Super Smash Bros Wii U and 3DS will be the first games to use the Amiibo toys, but those toys will also work with the new Wii U editions of both Skylanders and Disney Infinity. Nintendo decided to join them instead of beating them when it got into the game market nearly 40 years ago, and it became a titan.


Oculus demonstrates VR's pop culture potential with Alien: Isolation

Why did Facebook buy Oculus VR for $2 billion? Will the average person even want one of these ridiculous helmets in their home? How do you even apply it to mainstream entertainment? If Alien: Isolation is anything to go by, Oculus VR adapts to some of the most recognizable pop entertainment in the world.

A new game spun off from Ridely Scott and Fox's famous 1979 horror movie, Alien: Isolation is already terrifying – but made even more so when adapted to Oculus' virtual reality helmet. This brand new E3 demo may not be turned into a full retail product, but it does demonstrate just what Oculus Rift is capable of, even with an already familiar thrill.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.