|The most popular way to get attendees to visit a booth at GDC.|
The Nintendo 3DS. I finally got a chance to play with a 3DS and see some of the titles coming up for it. A very nice 3D effect without glasses... as long as you keep your eyes in the sweet spot. The movie clip produced a good 3D effect. I tried a couple of the built-in Augmented Reality (AR) games, which used the 3DS cameras to view a card on the desktop to create a dragon that you could shoot at by moving the 3DS around and pressing the button. Another game took a picture of your face and mapped it onto targets... rather disturbing I think.
Overall, the 3DS felt heavier than a DSi, and the controls seemed sturdy. The 3D effect worked well, but after playing for 15 minutes I found I had a headache. I think it's a nice device, but I am still unconvinced that the market will embrace the device the way it embraced the DS. There are some significant limitations, such as the battery life (3-5 hours versus 15 or more), the $250 price tag, the high cost of the games ($40 or more) and the still-feeble embrace of digital distribution and its possibilities. In a market where smartphones will be selling in the hundreds of millions, the 3DS will be lucky to achieve a significant fraction of their market share.
What could Nintendo do better? I'd say bring down the price to $199, and embrace digital distribution for a wide range of price points. Open it up to developers and a wide variety of apps. I's screens would still be far lower resolution than a smartphone, but at least it wouldn't have such a glaring disadvantage in software distribution.
The Sony Xperia Play. In stark contrast to the 3DS is the new "Playstation Phone" from Sony Ericsson. I had seen pictures, and it looked pretty cool... but holding it you're struck by how incredibly thin and light it is. And speedy... with a gorgeous screen. Android powered, and a set of Playstation games included, with more on the way. Makes the 3DS look clunky and underpowered and kinda ugly. Frankly, I'm not enamored of 3D. Nintendo's tried to make it important as a gameplay element, but it's unclear how many games will really do that. And the headaches may be more prevalent than Nintendo would like. The Xperia Play is a worthy phone to carry, and a great gaming device.
Middleware, Payments, Cloud Computing... All of these had multiple booths for a variety of vendors. I took a variety of literature, but really reporting on these things will require some review. There seems to be more ways than ever to get paid for your games, and to have your games hosted, and to have various sorts of services connected to your games. The part that I really don't understand is booths seemingly devoted to obscure Chinese MMOs. Other other foreing games... why have a booth at GDC? What do they hope to gain? I'll try to find out tomorrow, because I'm curious.
One interesting note: The most popular prize for giveaways at booths seems to be an iPad... with a few bold booths offering an iPad 2. Of course, they're only giving away one to a booth... but there are a half dozen booths where you can find this offer. Interesting that they would presume attendees at GDC to be interested in this item... and I think they're right.
Right now I want to spend some time watching the League of Legends tournament being staged for the GDC Conference Associates... my son is competing. More tomorrow.