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Bill Radke: The video game industry has finally started slumping like the rest of us. 2008 was a record year, but sales have begun to sag. Fortunately, it’s time for the E3 Expo — the LA tradeshow where the industry launches new titles and gadgets. Joel Rose takes a look.
Joel Rose: Microsoft used old-fashioned star power to draw attention to new games for its X-Box 360 console. Surviving Beatles Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney showed up at the E3 Expo yesterday to shill for the forthcoming Beatles edition of the popular music game Rock Band.
Ringo Starr: The graphics are very good. And we were great!
Paul McCartney: We love the game, it’s fantastic. Who’d of ever thought we’d end up as androids?
Hollywood director Stephen Spielberg was also on hand to help unveil a new Microsoft gadget called Project Natal that will let players control games using their bodies and voices — and nothing else.
Brian Crecente is the editor in chief of Kotaku.com, a gaming news Web site:
Brian Crecente: They’re trying to make this into something as easy to do as sitting down and watching a movie.
Crecente says Microsoft is trying to woo the same casual gamers who made Nintendo’s Wii such a hit.
Crecente: They want to find people who aren’t traditional gamers, who aren’t comfortable with picking up up a controller and try to remember what buttons they have to mash.
Microsoft didn’t say when the new controller would hit the market. But many of the games and consoles making their debut this week will be in stores later this year. Over the weekend, Sony leaked a promotional video for its latest game console, PSP Go.
Sony Video: We’re on our way to an undisclosed secret location, escorted by Sony Computer Entertainment Security, to meet the newest member of the PlayStation family.
The new console is about the size of a portable phone. And that’s no coincidence, says Justin McElroy, an editor at the Web site Joystiq.com. He says the big game studios are reacting to growing competition from independent designers who write inexpensive games for portable devices like the iPhone.
Justin McElroy: I think there’s a real fear that some of these indie developers are going to eat their lunch.
If video game sales don’t rebound soon, game developers may face pressure to cut prices on consoles and games. But nobody’s expecting that kind of announcement today, when Nintendo and Sony unveil their latest gizmos.
I’m Joel Rose for Marketplace.
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