The EB Games Expo is a trade/game show held by Australian retailer EB Games to allow gamers to experience upcoming software and hardware from manufacturers and developers from Australia and around the world. This year, Ausdroid was allowed to attend as guests of EB Games to check out what was on offer from both hardware and software manufacturers.
The Expo, which is being held this year and next at the Sydney Showground at Sydney Olympic Park (Homebush), started on Friday and had its last day today, running until 4pm. In only its third year, the show is getting pretty big, attracting attendees by offering the chance to have their first look at upcoming gaming consoles from both Microsoft and Sony, as well as Nvidia.
With any tradeshow run by a retailer, it’s reasonable to expect that the focus is going to be on products and services that can be sold through their stores. To a large extent this was true of the Expo, but with EB Games selling iTunes gift cards, we found there was certainly some room for mobile gaming, although it played a relatively minor role (with Woolworths’ exclusivity on Google Play Gift Cards only lasting until the end of this year, we’re hoping EB Games will be stocking them instore soon, too).
The big drawcards for any gaming-related trade show this year are Sony’s Playstation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, and the Expo had both of them on display in massive demo areas where visitors could get some in-depth hands-on time with the next-gen consoles.
Both Microsoft and Sony have acknowledged the mass adoption of Android in the smartphone market, and will have companion apps available for Android when the consoles reach retail later this year.
Microsoft – Xbox One
Microsoft was showing off the Xbox One with many consoles set up to play the latest announced games – Titan Fall, Dead Rising 3, Forza 5, RYSE, World of Tanks and a massive Killer Instinct display on the big screen. The console looks brilliant, and offers a lot of other options like Music, TV and Movies.
Microsoft already released Xbox SmartGlass on Android – a “second screen” app which allows you to get more out of your Xbox 360 when playing games or watching video on the console – but they’ve also announced a separate version, appropriately called Xbox One SmartGlass which will be available around the time of launch of the console.
Sony – Playstation 4
Sony also had a demo area for the Playstation 4, but offered specific areas for people to try out their big name titles like Gran Turismo 6 and Killzone Shadow Fall. They also had the PS Vita handheld console on show, though unfortunately not the PS Vita TV, a micro-console recently announced for the Japanese market.
Despite having deep ties to Android with their Xperia devices and integration of PlayStation Mobile on their own and some other manufacturers’ devices for the last couple of years, Sony hasn’t actually released a companion app for the PS3 yet, BUT at the recent Tokyo Game Show they announced that one will be coming soon.
Nintendo – 3DS (and the Wii U)
Nintendo was out in force to show off their massively successful 3DS handheld gaming system which was being demoed at the Expo. The company’s troubled Wii U was also there, apparently, but you wouldn’t think it judging by the massive “3DS” banner flying over the stand.
While the world waits for Nintendo to accept the growing smartphone and tablet gaming market, Nintendo seems to feel that releasing their properties on mobile platforms like Android and iOS would lead to a ‘decrease in brand value over the long term’, and so they insist on continuing with their hugely popular system. While their handheld consoles fly high, it’s hard to blame them. We hope that one day we’ll see Mario and friends coming to an Android device near us – without needing to use an emulator.
Accessories and Hardware
With gaming comes accessories, and some top tier accessories were being shown off from some of the best including Razer, Logitech, Plantronics, Skull Candy, Turtle Beach, Audio Technica and Bluemouth showing of the Astro line of gaming headsets.
All of the accessories being shown off by these vendors on the show floor were being offered for sale at a huge EB Games Mega store located centrally in the venue, and a couple of smaller satellite stores just in case you didn’t make it to the main store. This store not only offered gaming-related accessories, but also stocked a massive variety of EB Games’ usual range of ephemera like plush toys, replica gaming weapons, hats and backpacks as well as games and, thankfully, taking pre-orders for the next-gen consoles on display.
Home Grown Gaming and Independent Mobile Game Developers
The EB Games Expo is mainly showcasing hardware and software available for sale at EB Games stores – understandably – but the Expo also had an section devoted to Home Grown Gaming and Independent Mobile Game Developers. Here were located some of Australia’s own great mobile game developers and some up-and-comers showcasing their games.
We met a number of developers who’ll be releasing apps over the next few months. Surprisingly, given recent history in the commerical space, a number of the developers were actually looking to buck the current trend of releasing their wares on iOS first, and looking to release simultaneously or even first on Android. Some actually had no plans for an iOS release.
We met bigger developers like the guys from Melbourne-based Wicked Witch Software who were there showing off titles like Catapult King but are also looking to bring some of their bigger sports-based titles to Android stage soon.
We met developers like Nathan Harper from Beer Mogul. It was refreshing to chat with Nathan for a while about cross-platform development without the usual commercial concerns about marketing and whether or not you’re “sending the right message”. We even discussed Ouya development! Nathan just released his new F1 Management simulator Formula Legend to Google Play – we hope to see some of his other titles come across, too.
There were also a number of games we saw still in development that will be coming out in the next few months like Voxel Nova, Cell Surgeon, TapShot, Glide and more. We’ll be reviewing these games as they come out – we are an Australian Android site after all, and from the looks of the games on show at the EB Games Expo we have some real talent coming up.
Ausdroid is always interested to hear from Australian developers – if you have an app you’d like reviewed, let us know about it. Shoot us an email and let us know.
A surprise for me was the appearance of an Oculus Rift unit – a head-mounted 3D virtual reality headset.
Ryan Alcock from Blunt Instrument let us try out his Oculus Rift game Super Mega Mega, currently in development. Unlike all the first-person shooters coming out for the Oculus Rift, Super Mega Mega seems decidedly retro – it’s a fixed-perspective 2.5D platformer, which was right up Jason’s alley and the game’s pretty fun to play. Check out the demo video below:
We can’t wait to see more of this, and Ryan mentioned that he’s thinking of porting to the game to mobile devices.
It’s a weird feeling putting on the Oculus Rift, but the word from everyone who’s tried it is that it’s something amazing and the device doesn’t disappoint. Surprisingly, it’s developments in mobile technology which have allowed for the advancement of VR-technology to this point. The Oculus Rift gives an immersive experience with technology that responds startlingly quickly to your head movements.
A large part of gaming is still PC based and the EB Games Expo was not a disappointment, with parts manufacturers Gigabyte and Asus showing off their latest in hardware for motherboards as well as expansion cards and graphics cards. Even Alienware were on show with their range of systems.
Gigabyte did demonstrations with liquid nitrogen cooling and Asus had even managed to get Nvidia to bring along their Nvidia Shield to the event, and we even managed to get some hands-on time with the Tegra 4 packing Android gaming device.
We very much enjoyed the opportunity to experience the EB Games Expo. We have to thank EB Games for their invitation, and we hope to return next year to see what else is coming. It was a fantastic event, and the Independent Game Developers focus was a great opportunity for us to see what was coming up for Android from Aussie developers.
Did you attend the EB Games Expo? What was your favourite part?