Video Games Take Center Stage At E3 Expo

Renelly Morel, right , and Cindy Lum, second from right, demonstrate Ubisoft's "Rayman 2" videogame to media member Jesse Blanco, during the E3 Media Business Summit at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, Calif., Wed, July 11, 2007. (AP Photo/Stefano Paltera) AP Photo/Stefano Paltera

With no new consoles to show off, the focus returned to video games Wednesday as the industry's biggest players gathered to demonstrate the top titles they hope to offer consumers in the coming months.

New controllers were the big news from Nintendo Co., which unveiled three new ways to get players of its Wii console off the sofa.

The company announced a gun-shaped "zapper" for first person shooters, a steering wheel for driving titles and a white floor pad for exercise and dancing games.

2The $19.99 white, pistol-shaped controller will be available later this year. The existing Wii remote and nunchuck accessories clip into the gun's plastic housing.

The Wii remote snaps into the steering wheel accessory and will be included with the racing game "Mario Kart," due in the first quarter of next year, said Reggie Fils-Aime, president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America Inc. Pricing wasn't announced.

The company also showed off several new games as it tries to lure a bigger range of gamers.

An exercise program called "Wii Fit" includes a "Wii Balance Board" players stand on to perform yoga, aerobics and other fitness routines. The wireless device, which looks like a weight scale, calculates body mass index and shows a person's center of gravity.

Pricing and availability weren't announced.

"All this makes games feel fresh again no matter how long you've been playing," said Fils-Aime. "The key to industry expansion is making games irresistible, even to those who've never played before."

Fils-Aime said several games would take advantage of the zapper controller, including a new "Resident Evil" game from Capcom and a "Medal of Honor" title from Electronic Arts Inc.

At its own news conference, Sony Corp. showed off a revised, slimmed down version of its PlayStation Portable that lets users connect the handheld system to their TVs to watch movies.

Executives said the new PSP was 33 percent lighter and more battery efficient that the previous version.

The system will come in black as well as two new colors this fall: silver and a limited edition white version with Darth Vader's image on the back that will sell for $199 as part of a "Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron" game package.

3Sony executives previewed a variety of upcoming games, including the military shooter "Killzone 2" and the latest revision of its 3-D online service called "Home," due this fall.

Microsoft Corp. too, kept the focus on video games.

Peter Moore, a corporate vice president in Microsoft's entertainment and devices division, said Tuesday that top games for the Xbox 360 will include the anticipated sci-fi shooter "Halo 3" from Bungie Studios, "Mass Effect" from BioWare Corp. and "Grand Theft Auto IV" from Rockstar Games.

Microsoft Corp. said Tuesday it had struck a deal to make 35 Disney movies, such as the animated hit "Aladdin" and the action title "Armageddon," available for download on its online video game service.

The company also said it had struck a deal to offer 35 new high-definition movies from Disney-ABC Domestic Television.

The announcements kicked off the E3 Media & Business Summit, which runs through Friday in Santa Monica.

The Xbox 360, released in late 2005, leads the current generation of console wars in the United States with 5.6 million units sold, according to the NPD Group, a market research company.

The Wii has sold 2.8 million units domestically, while the PlayStation 3 console from Sony Corp. was ranked third with 1.4 million consoles sold in the United States since its release late last year.
  • Sean Alfano

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