E3: Video game consoles aren’t just for video games

Attendees leave the Microsoft Xbox press conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo at the Galen Center on June 4, 2012 in Los Angeles, Calif.

Even if you never play video games, you should take a look at what's happening in the video game industry. Big companies are showing off new technologies that go far beyond games at the annual E3 video game trade show this week in Los Angeles.

That's where Microsoft announced Smart Glass. Dan Ackerman of CNET is at E3.

Dan Ackerman: What it looks like it's going to be is an app that will work on your Windows device, on your Android tablet, that takes secondary content from your Xbox experience and gives you a kind of second screen into it. Now that sounds kind of weird, but it's basically if you're watching a movie you can get sort of trivia, or maps, or other stuff you'd look up on your laptop just normally, just right there in front of you while you're watching.

Moe: So I have an iPhone, I can watch things from my Xbox on my iPhone?

Ackerman: You can also take movies you're watching on the Xbox video services and fling them basically from the console to your portable device, to your tablet, to your laptop.

Moe: Nintendo has a new version of the Wii on the way and it announced Miiyerse. What's that?

Ackerman: Looks like it's going to be their version of Facebook or social sharing space for this new game console. It's great for inviting other people to join a game that you're playing, because so much of the emphasis now is on multi-player games. And you can also see what movies they're watching, if they want you to.

The Xbox, PlayStation and Wii are transforming from game player to home entertainment hub. And the companies who make those consoles don't just want you to buy one; they want you to be an ongoing customer.

Same goes for games. Ben Kuchera of Penny Arcade says big titles like "Halo" and "Call of Duty" want to turn gamers into subscribers. "If you have one of these big tent-pole franchises, they want you to be paying yearly for constant support, much like you would to HBO, where you pay once and you get all the content and all the videos and everything. We're going to see games move in that direction in a really big way, I think."

In terms of new games, Ben says it’s a slow year. New versions of all three big consoles are said to be on the way so game developers are kind of waiting. That could translate to you having a lot of fun. "The prices are going to start coming down. There's going to be plenty of great games in established franchises. And a bunch of games out there are going to be lowered in price. When a console first comes out, there's like three months of not a lot out there for it. This is a really good time to go out there, buy games you might have missed, and really enjoy the last year or so of this console generation."

I'm holding out for a new version of Pong. My old one's getting boring.

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If you were on the Internet in the '90s, this will make you sentimental.

The modem! Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic heard that sound on a site dedicated to endangered sounds and recently wrote a breakdown of what it meant. We asked him for some play-by-play.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

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