The top hardware announcements from E3 2019, the world’s biggest annual gaming show, rely on tiny connectors — but edge computing and data centers are the future of gaming.
In 2018, the video game industry generated nearly $135 billion worldwide, an increase of 10% over the previous year and an amount that rivals the $136 billion film industry. Game sales span mobile, PC, and console platforms, and each category has a significant impact on the electronics industry. Today’s gaming products require tinier, more powerful hardware components to keep systems fast and cool. The graphics-intensive streaming video demands more juice from data centers, pushing capabilities on the large scale as well. E3 2019
It’s a secretive industry; we wish we could tell you what our connector suppliers know about the gaming products in which their interconnects are going, but this information is locked down tight. So we wait for the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) each year to learn more about the hardware connectors make possible. This year’s event (E3 2019), held June 9-13 in Los Angeles, delivered the goods. E3 2019
E3 2019 Hardware Highlights
Microsoft provided more details about the next Xbox, code-named Project Scarlett. This console —actually, a “family of devices,” which raises some interesting connectivity possibilities — will feature a solid state drive (SSD) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) chip, and deliver 8K resolution and 120 frames per second (twice as fast as a TV). It’s launching in late 2020, with Halo Infinite, the first new Halo game in 5 years.
Another Microsoft product of note is the Elite Wireless Controller, a Bluetooth-connected controller that has a unique charging dock and offers 40 hours of gameplay per charge. It can be custom-configured to the ergonomic preferences of the user and the controller can run wirelessly or wired via a micro-USB.
AMD announced its new Radeon RX 5700 graphics card and third generation AMD Ryzen desktop processor, which support the new PCIe 4.0 interface to give gamers faster speeds and better graphics. These advances open the door to greater machine learning and artificial capabilities in games and beyond.
Gaming laptops keep getting better. Dell’s Alienware announced its new m15 and m15 models, which can be configured for a 2TB PCIe SSD. Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU with 8GB of VRAM boasts some virtual reality capabilities, including ray tracing for more realistic lighting and shadows, and an integrated Tobii eye tracker — a neat piece of sensor tech that effectively builds a human-machine interface.
Some gamers want to keep it old school, and a new device will enable them to do so. The Polymega, made by Playmaji, enables users to plug in vintage discs or cartridges, download a game onto a modern interface, and play it with either a modern or vintage controller. This console comes preloaded with 12 games and users can also buy other vintage titles online. E3 2019
A raft of new accessories aim to correct what some players feel are deficiencies of the blockbuster handheld platform Nintendo Switch. Bionik announced a new USB dongle that plugs into the Nintendo Switch’s headphone jack. This enable players to plug in their phones or headphones, or connect them via Bluetooth, to control in-game audio and voice chat. Another Bionik dongle, the BT AudioSync, lets players connect any wireless headset, including earbuds, to the Switch.
The LucidSound LS-35X headset features 50mm drivers and radios for wireless and Bluetooth, so gamers can listen to music while gaming. This headset can connect wirelessly to either the PS4 or the Xbox One and its streamlined styling enables it to be used in the real world too.
Does a Tesla count as video gaming hardware? Elon Musk would say yes. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO made an E3 appearance to announce that Teslas will now come with games streaming on their console — when the vehicle is parked. The vehicle’s starring wheel serves as a controller for auto racing games.
The Internet of Games
Legions of gamers bypass the consoles and physical game cards and simply stream games online. The internet infrastructure needed to support gaming’s streaming video is intense, and new strategies are evolving to keep latency down — a crucial factor that can be (virtual) life or death for a gamer. Game companies are partnering with data centers and moving streaming video to the edge of networks, which will enable devices with lower processing speeds to access immersive games and augmented and virtual reality features.
Amazon and Google are developing subscription-based cloud gaming services that give players access to speeds above and beyond their local service: Google Stadia will launch in late 2019 and provide players with access to games on just about every screen, with the high-powered processing occurring in the cloud. Gaming giant Bethesda is developing Orion, a streaming technology that will enable players to bypass the limitations of their local internet service provider to access high-speed streaming cloud services.
E3 2019 Games
As for the games themselves, look for remakes of retro favorites, the next installments of some significant game stories, and dazzling new worlds. We’re excited about a sequel to Zelda: Breath of the Wild from Nintendo; a new canon-correct Star Wars game plus a new LEGO Star Wars game; Doom: Eternal; Borderlands 3; a remake of Final Fantasy VII; a proper Avengers game; Elden Ring, created with Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin; the Outer Worlds, a new game by the creators of the role-playing game Fallout; and a selection of new titles for the Nintendo Switch. Oh yes, and the conference could have ended on day one based on the buzz generated by one game alone, Cyberpunk 2077, featuring Keanu Reeves.