Jan. 10, 2014 at 4:12 PM ET
Summer is usually the season for hot video game news, but this year gamers won't have to wait for the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in June to learn about the latest and greatest ways to shoot zombies or jump on the heads of bad guys. From futuristic virtual reality tech to fresh new ideas from the world of PC gaming, video games stood out among the gadgets at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Here are the top trends we're tracking.
PC gaming might actually become a thing again
Long the center of the entire video game industry, the PC has seen its relevance decline in recent years as consoles and then mobile devices captured more and more of people's attention. PC-centric companies came back to CES with a vengeance this year, bringing a number of compelling new ideas about how consumers might be able to wed the technical prowess of a PC with the more accessible price and user experience of a console. The most notable of these was the Valve, which gave CES attendees the first look at some of its highly anticipated "Steam Machines," a series of devices that bring part of the PC gaming giant's impressive software offerings to a console-like ecosystem for the first time. But they were hardly the only one. Hardware company Razer unveiled a new prototype known as "Project Christine," which aims to let players build their own souped-up gaming rigs without having to go through the trouble of installing their own motherboards and graphics cards.
We're inching ever closer to virtual reality
Ever since the Oculus Rift headset blew its Kickstarter goal out of the water in 2012, virtual reality gaming has begun to look like, well, an actual reality. We here at NBC News have been testing out the different VR systems for a while now, and while we were already impressed with some of the original Oculus models that developers began to tinker with in 2013, the new "Crystal Crove" prototype that the Oculus team brought to CES this year was better than any we've seen so far.
Bigger companies are making more of an investment in cloud gaming
Video game companies have been toying with the idea of making Netflix-like services for their wares for years now, but major publishers and hardware developers have largely remained reticent to dive headfirst into this new model considering how disruptive it could prove to their existing business models. So while the CES-es of years past saw ambitious startups like Agawi and OnLive making bold predictions about the future of gaming being a tiny dongle attached to a smart TV, industry heavyweights stayed out of the conversation. This year, however, was a video game of a different color. Sony finally teased out some details about "PlayStation Now," a streaming service that it said will be available for both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 later this year. When Sony first unveiled the PlayStation 4 back in February of 2013, the company made the bold proclamation that soon gamers would be able to play any game from PlayStation's twenty-year history by streaming it onto one Sony device or another. The service they let us test out at CES wasn't quite there yet, but the fact that a company this influential is investing in this new type of service is notable regardless.
Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered technology and games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at: Yannick.LeJacq@nbcuni.com.