LOS ANGELES — For those of you unfamiliar with the yearly Electronic Entertainment Expo held here, this is how the convention works. For three days, video game journalists, store managers and game developers get together to take a look at developments in the industry, including new systems, products and innovations that will shape the face of gaming over the next year and beyond. And believe it or not, the iPad plays a huge part in that.
Sure, there weren’t as many iPad games on the show floor as there were for Xbox 360’s Kinect and the Nintendo 3DS, but signs of Apple’s device on this year’s conference were unmistakable. Literally hundreds of attendees were using them on the show floor, either to capture pictures with the built-in iPad 2 cameras or to take notes.
During some pre-E3 news conferences, we caught up with a couple of attendees to see why using an iPad was so much simpler than writing with a traditional pen and notepad. “Well, first of all, it doesn’t cramp your hand up,” said Walter Thomas, a freelance journalist covering the event. “Considering you gotta use your hands to play a lot of games on the show floor, that’s pretty important. But also, you don’t lose any notes by typing them on this thing, and you can pull them right up for later reference on articles.”
Another attendee, Yun C., pointed out, “Writing with the iPad notepad is so much easier than going by hand. You can get something written down a lot easier and not be so distracted from what’s happening with the presentations. I hate missing out on something important.”
What’s more, people on the show floor used the iPad to show off their upcoming developments instead of a television. A representative for one of the smaller booths at the conference pointed out, “It’s a lot more intimate using an iPad to show off your games. It feels more like you’re doing a one-on-one presentation, getting the person up close to show off things, rather than blankly pointing them out on a static TV screen. Plus, I think the detail on the iPad 2 is way better.”
Many reps also used the iPad 2 for other business-related duties. The Turtle Beach booth, for example, had the devices perched on the front of their greet desk, so folks could fill out a questionnaire and earn a chance to win one of their headsets on the spot. “It’s a lot more helpful than digging your hand through hundreds of entry slips,” said the girl manning the desk. Other companies used them to schedule appointments for the day.
Despite the practical uses of the iPad, there were plenty of E3 happenings that showed its gaming side as well. Namco Bandai introduced the latest entry in its object-gathering "Katamari" games, "Katamari Amore," for the device.
Madfinger Games also had its third-person shooter "Shadow Gun" on hand to try out (and it looks just as amazing as "Infinity Blade" at this stage of development).
EA Sports’ latest soccer game for iPad, "FIFA 12," was also revealed, complete with side-controller compatibility with the iPhone. And Onlive announced that it would bring its cloud-gaming service to the iPad sometime this year, including major games such as "Duke Nukem Forever" and "Red Faction: Armageddon," as well as functionality with either an on-screen controller or an optional wireless peripheral.
“The power of the cloud is definitely the theme this week, displacing what had been assumed to be platforms that could never be displaced,” said Steve Perlman, founder and CEO of OnLive, a service that allows users to stream console-quality video games to their TV and mobile devices over the Internet.
“The OnLive Player App for iPad shows how with the power of the cloud. The question is not whether cloud gaming will be able to catch up to consoles, it will be whether consoles will be able to catch up to cloud gaming.”
So, whether it was new gaming developments or just general use on the show floor, the iPad no doubt played a huge part in this year’s E3 event. And we expect this trend to become even more popular in the years to come — especially when the competitive Onlive service comes into play.