CES Gaming: The controllers, games, peripherals and many megapixels of CES 2013

The annual International Consumer Electronics Show swamps Las Vegas each year with thousands of exhibitors, hundreds of thousands of people and not a few gaming gadgets. We'll be on hand to sort through the televisions, cameras, tablets, smartphones, smart homes and inexplicable doodads to write about the things you really care about, stuff you can play games on or with.

Regulars like Razer, Roccat, PowerA, Intel, Nvidia and Sony will be showing off their wares throughout the week. What you won't be seeing is Microsoft, which decided to give the annual show a pass for the first time in more than a decade. But don't worry, there will still be plenty to read about, gawk over and speculate on during the week.

Stay tuned.

Android 'consoles' and Steam Boxes dominate gaming at CES, while consoles sit it out

Without Microsoft delivering the annual keynote and filling the front of the Las Vegas Convention Center's Central Hall with its massive booth, the message seemed to be clear: CES is shrinking and its largest presence at the show can't even be bothered to show up anymore. If you thought that with Microsoft missing, Sony might divert some of its spotlight away from headsets and wireless speakers towards its PlayStation products you weren't alone. At the show, Sony CEO Kaz Hirai described PlayStation Vita sales as being "on the low end" of the company's expectations, making its relative...

Dance Dance Revolution for schools supports 48 players, aimed at reducing childhood obesity

While video games may not have a large presence at CES 2013, Konami and UnitedHealthcare Group brought one game to the show in a big way. The Classroom Edition of venerable rhythm game Dance Dance Revolution was on display, showcasing the program designed to reduce childhood obesity through physical education curriculum in schools.

What differentiates Dance Dance Revolution Classroom Edition from its home and arcade counterparts is its 48-player support and stat-tracking. Wireless dance pads designed by Performance Design Products can track a dancer's progress, including steps, body mass...

The Tobii Rex eye-tracker brings a killer stare to PC gaming, new control possibilities

At CES, Valve founder Gabe Newell said that gaze tracking — tech that measures eye movement and position — will be "super important" in how players interact with video games in the future. Playing with the gaze-tracking Tobii Rex at CES this week, it's easy to see why Valve is pursuing that type of biometric feedback to complement new game experiences.

Tobii's focus at CES was more about Windows 8 interface control with the eyes than it was about gaming, but the Stockholm-based tech company did bring with it a handful of compelling game demos. In one, we played with StarCraft 2's...

Tomb Raider multiplayer extends the single-player experience, says Eidos Montreal producer

"The project basically came to light two years ago," Khoury told Polygon. "Tomb Raider as a reboot had already been in existence. Crystal [Dynamics] had really wanted to do a multiplayer component but they didn't want to fragment their team so they looked at other opportunities within Square Enix and Eidos Montreal — first of all there's a big pool of talent in Montreal — and they said that if we wanted to do this correctly, a fully dedicated team would need to put their attention on it. Which is where we came in."

In November 2011, shortly after the successful release of Deus Ex:...

PC developers discuss entering the living room through Valve's Steam Box

As for the Steam Box specification, Newell said he envisions low-end, mid-range and high-end versions with varying capabilities and performance, but a few things in common. As devices designed for the living room, Steam Boxes will be quiet computers in attractive form factors. Valve's own Steam Box will run Linux instead of Windows, although the platform will be open so as to allow for the installation of Microsoft's operating system.

The vast majority of today's most popular PC games are made for Windows, with a growing number being ported to Mac OS X. Linux lags far behind in adoption by...

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Testing the puzzles of Portal 2 with one hand and Intel's perceptual computing tech

Valve's first-person puzzler Portal 2 got a little more attention at CES this week, thanks to a tech demo of Intel's perceptual computing technology. The motion sensing technology allows Aperture Science test subjects to experience something new: solving Portal 2's puzzles with one hand.

Portal 2 In Motion developer Sixense helped Intel create the hand motion-recognition demo. Earlier versions of Sixense's motion control take on Portal 2, released for the PlayStation 3 and PC, required the use of a PlayStation Move controller or Razer's magnetic motion-sensing Hydra.

As you'll see in the...

Nvidia Project Shield hands-on preview: Sonic, Hawken and Steam on-the-go

Nvidia announced its own dedicated gaming hardware earlier this week: Project Shield, the Android-based, Tegra 4-powered device that blurs the line between gaming handheld and console. Add in the capability to wirelessly stream games from a PC equipped with a GeForce GTX graphics card and Nvidia has a potentially powerful gaming device on its hands — even if the message about what the Shield is, and who it might be for, seems a tad mixed.

After going hands-on with Project Shield, I felt a bit more positive about Nvidia's chances. Given Nvidia's relative inexperience in creating consumer...

Sega's The Conduit may be making the leap from Wii to Android

Sega and High Voltage Software's first-person shooter The Conduit appears to be on its way to Android devices. The game, originally released on the Wii in 2009, made an unexpected appearance in Nvidia's TegraZone store at CES.

TegraZone is Nvidia's curated Android store, focusing on titles that are optimized for the Tegra processor. While browsing TegraZone during a demo of Nvidia's new Project Shield gaming device, a "TBA" listing for The Conduit appeared in a short list of games. We attempted to download and install The Conduit ourselves, which resulted in the Shield locking up — a...

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Up close with Tomb Raider's pre-scratched, fingerprint-covered Xbox controller

Microsoft today announced a limited-edition wireless Tomb Raider controller for the upcoming game.

The controller, seen in the video above, features a customizable directional pad and a two-layer, laser-etched finish that creates a worn appearance. That means laser-etched scratches and pre-printed fingerprints adorn the controller.

The $59.99 controller will also come with a download token for an Xbox 360 playable character known as the "devious Scavenger Archer" for use in the game when it hits on March 5.

SMotion Game Cube is part motion controller, part sex swing

Motion control gaming took a turn for the amusingly complex at CES 2013 thanks to Intellect Motion's suite of motion sensing technology SMotion, comprised of a gun controller, LED sensor belt and — for the adventurous — a wearable harness that suspends players from an array of bungee cords attached to a steel frame.

Intellect Motion's bungee harness set up, for now at least, is named the Game Cube.

While the Game Cube looks complicated, thanks to its tight-fitting harness worn around the torso and very snugly around the crotch, it's not instrumental to the SMotion experience. The...

GameStick will support Green Throttle Gaming controller, adding 'full analog' option for Kickstarter project

Today PlayJam, the company behind Kickstarter project GameStick, and Green Throttle Gaming, makers of a Bluetooth controller and platform for use with Android devices, announced that GameStick will support Green Throttle's controller, "providing an additional option for playing fast-paced Android games using the portable GameStick."

This means people who purchase the $79 GameStick, which has already raised over $300K on Kickstarter, will have the option of using Green Throttle's "full-analog" controller which, ostensibly, should deliver a better gaming experience than GameStick's svelte,...

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DreamPlay app a new leap in AR, not part of Disney Infinity project, say creators

The next-generation of augmented reality technology may make the QR code and AR marker cards obsolete. While the AR features of handheld gaming devices like the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita largely depend on physical cards printed with specific patterns, new software from Nantworks and JAKKS Pacific represents an impressive leap forward.

DreamPlay, announced at CES 2013 earlier this week, uses advanced object recognition and cloud-based technology to interpret real-world objects and spawn virtual versions in apps and games.

We met with JAKKS Pacific and DreamPlay/Nantworks at CES to...

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Kinect tech demo turns your entire living room into a video game

Microsoft may not have an official presence at CES 2013, but the company just showed some new Kinect-powered technology that expands video game graphics beyond the boundaries of the television. Called IllumiRoom, the proof-of-concept from Microsoft Research combines Kinect and a video projector to amazing effect.

A demo video of IllumiRoom shows how a Kinect for Windows camera scans the geometry of a room and tailors visuals projected outside the television to complement what's happening on the screen. The system, Microsoft Research says, "can change the appearance of the room, induce...

Thrustmaster peripheral developer releases new line of gaming headsets

Peripheral designer and production company Thrustmaster will release a new line of gaming headsets soon, the company announced today.

Each headset will cost $89.99 and will be available through all major retailers "shortly," according to a company press release.

Buyers will have their choice between the Y-250X model designed for use with the Xbox 360, the Y-250P for PlayStation 3 and the Y-250C for PC. The headsets have also been tested for compatibility with the Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, PlayStation Vita, MP3 players and smartphones.

Thrustmaster says the headsets were designed in a Y shape...

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Archos TV Connect brings Android (and Android games) to your TV

The premise of the Archos TV Connect is simple: Run Android on your television. While this may sound a lot like Google TV, it's actually much different, for both better and worse. On the better side of things, the Archos TV Connect includes full access to the entire Android suite of apps, like Google Play, Gmail and, of course, gaming apps.

As for worse ... well, it's tablet software designed to be used with a touch interface. Instead, you're limited to the somewhat unwieldy "Remote," a gamepad with dual analog sticks, a directional pad, the expected suite of face and shoulder buttons, a...

Valve's Greg Coomer talks Big Picture and the challenge of the Steam Box

We stopped by Valve's CES booth this morning and spoke with Greg Coomer, product designer at Valve and one of the earliest champions of Steam's recently launched Big Picture mode, which reformats the PC gaming platform with a living room-appropriate 10-foot UI. With its part of the software problem solved, Valve is now meeting with hardware developers and has brought "multiple" hardware prototypes to the show, including the Xi3 system unveiled yesterday.

"We're surprised that there aren't more PC manufacturers who are addressing the combination of form factor, meaning size, and things like...

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Hands-on with Razer Edge, the all-in-one gaming tablet

Razer's new gaming tablet, the Razer Edge, attempts to be an all-in-one gaming solution. According to Razer, "It's a tablet. It's a PC. It's a console." A Windows 8 tablet at heart, what makes the Razer Edge unique is its line of accessories, namely its dual analog stick equipped gaming controller.

At CES 2013, we had the opportunity to go hands-on with the Razer Edge, its gaming controller, console dock for HDTV output and laptop-style keyboard dock. The Razer Edge is a compelling option for gamers in the market for a Windows 8 gaming tablet — Steam's Big Picture mode works quite well...

Gabe Newell confirms Valve's Steam Box, discusses controllers and seamless household integration

Valve is working on its own Steam Box hardware that will run Linux, according to an interview with Valve head Gabe Newell published on The Verge.

"We'll come out with our own and we'll sell it to consumers by ourselves," Newell said. "That'll be a Linux box, [and] if you want to install Windows you can. We're not going to make it hard. This is not some locked box by any stretch of the imagination."

The challenge in designing hardware and software for living rooms is manifold, but Newell sees promise in hardware and new input paradigms and wants to make the process of PC gaming on TV...

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Vita sales 'on the low end' of expectations but the long term defines success, CEO says

PlayStation Vita sales may not be as brisk as Sony would like, but the company is focusing on the handheld's long term prospects, the Wall Street Journal quotes Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai as saying at a reception after Sony's CES keynote.

"I would say it's on the low end of what we expected," Hirai said.

Hirai compared Vita sales to those of the PlayStation 3's early days, saying that products need 5 to 10 years to determine their success. "Long term is what is important," he said.

Sony's PlayStation Vita handheld sold 1.8 million units in the U.S., Japan, Asia and Europe between its Feb....

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Valve meeting with hardware and content developers at CES, Piston one of many prototypes

A Valve official tells Polygon that they plan to spend their week at the Consumer Electronics Show meeting with hardware and content developers in their booth and showcasing "multiple" custom hardware prototypes.

On Monday, Valve grabbed the CES spotlight when hardware partner Xi3 announced plans for their "steam box" Piston computer game system. The still-in-development Steam-optimized mini PC, backed by an "investment from Valve Corporation", will offer up to 1 TB of internal storage and modular component updates.

Xi3 chief marketing officer David Politis walked Polygon through what...

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Razer Edge gaming tablet is Windows 8 laptop, console and 'Steam Box' in one

At last year's CES, Razer unveiled Project Fiona, a gaming tablet concept with dual analog sticks and a full complement of buttons, a touchscreen device with viable video game controls. Project Fiona is back at CES 2013, rebranded as the Razer Edge, a gaming tablet that has been reimagined and newly "designed for — and by — PC gamers," says Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan.

The new Razer Edge's new design was crowd sourced by PC gamers, Tan says. Razer fielded more than 10,000 emails and survey responses from its fan base, feedback that helped mold the new design of the Razer Edge.

According...

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Qualcomm releasing home bandwidth manager this spring to prevent gaming lag and slow loading

This spring, wireless technology company Qualcomm will release the new StreamBoost router add-on to help manage household broadband connections, allowing each internet-connected device in a home access to the bandwidth it needs, the company announced recently.

As the number of internet-connected devices in the home increases, users experience "network congestion," such as time lag on gaming consoles, streaming content freezing up and websites loading more slowly. Qualcomm says the StreamBoost will control network traffic for these devices, allowing each device and application the bandwidth...

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Turtle Beach announces new lines of wired and wireless gaming headsets at CES 2013

Turtle Beach announced new lines of wired and wireless gaming-centric headsets at CES 2013, promising the "most technologically advanced headsets ever designed" for games hardware.

First, and priciest, are the Ear Force XP510 for Xbox 360 and Ear Force PX51 for PlayStation 3, which launch during the first quarter of 2013 for $289.99 and $269.99, respectively. The Ear Force models feature Dolby digital surround sound, a rechargeable lithium battery with a 15-hour charge capacity and dual-band Wi-Fi, which a Turtle Beach press release says offers "an interference-free connection."

The Ear...

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Valve partner Xi3's 'Steam Box' codenamed Piston, early specs detailed at CES

The "Steam Box" modular computer announced by hardware maker Xi3 and Valve at CES is codenamed "Piston" and is modeled after the PC maker's X7A line of pint-sized computers, Xi3 reps tell Polygon.

Xi3 brought an early version of Piston to CES, but was tight lipped on details about the hardware currently in development with Valve. Xi3 chief marketing officer David Politis told Polygon that Piston will offer up to 1 TB of interal storage and offer modular component updates, including the option to upgrade the PC's CPU and RAM.

Xi3 wouldn't discuss price for Piston, but commented that the...

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Valve and Xi3 announce in-development Steam-optimized mini PC at CES

Valve's oft-rumored "Steam Box" is making its first public appearance at CES 2013 thanks to a newly announced partnership with mini-PC maker Xi3.

Xi3 today announced "an investment from Valve Corporation" and a "new development stage computer game system," which is being showcased at both the Xi3 and Valve booths at CES this week.

The still-in-development device is optimized for computer game play on large, high-definition displays. Xi3 says that the modular computer was designed specifically to support both Steam and Big Picture mode.

"Today marks the beginning of a new era for Xi3,"...

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Hawken demoed on Project Shield exclusive to Tegra 4, built in weeks

The version of Hawken demoed onstage at Nvidia's Project Shield console announcement was custom built for the company's new console, a representative from Nvidia told Kotaku.

Adhesive Games received the hardware shortly before Christmas and spent the last few weeks creating a version of the first-person mech shooter to run on the console, which contains Nvidia's Tegra 4 system on a chip. According to Kotaku, "the Android version of Hawken" will be exclusive to the Tegra 4 and possibly to Project Shield.

Last year, CEO Mark Long of Hawken publisher Meteor Entertainment announced interest...

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Monster and EA Sports team up to create MVP Carbon surround sound headphones

Monster and EA Sports have teamed up to create the MVP Carbon surround sound headphones, according to a press release from Monster.

The $269.95 headphones are designed to allow hours of listening without fatigue and feature 5.1 channel surround processing Monster refers to as HDHS, or "High Definition Headphone Surround." The headphones are compatible with the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows PC, Wii and Wii U and are expected to release in February.

Monster relied on EA to provide "insight and expertise into exactly what features and capabilities will benefit gamers most was...

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New RCA mobile TV tablet supports Google Play

The RCA Mobile TV Tablet unveiled last night during this year's CES 2013 in Las Vegas will support Google Play, the electronics company announced.

Alongside the mobile TV tuner compatible with the Dyle mobile TV service RCA's push into mobile TV tablets allows users to access the Google Play App Store.

Google Play is the digital distribution application for Android devices. Titles including Chrono Trigger, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery and Final Fantasy are currently available through the platform.

In addition to Google Play, the tablet's mobile TV service features 130 channels...

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PowerA unveils console-style MOGA Pro Controller for gaming on Android devices

Gaming accessory company PowerA will release a new controller for its MOGA Mobile Gaming System this spring, a MOGA Pro Controller built in the style of full-featured console controllers for use with Android devices, the company announced at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show today.

The MOGA Pro features the classic directional pad and four action buttons, dual analog sticks, full-sized hand grips and two shoulder bumpers and triggers. The controller can be recharged via a USB charging cord and tablet stand as well as by changing batteries.

The MOGA Pro will fully support PowerA's MOGA...

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Ubitus cloud service bringing MMOs and console games to Google TV

Cloud media services company Ubitus Inc. is bringing its cloud gaming service to Google TV, allowing users to play console titles and massively multiplayer online games via television sets, the company announced today.

All smart TVs and set-top-boxes will run in low latency mode (which reduces screen delay time) for use with Ubitus' service. Ubitus grants users instant access to a library of triple-A console games and MMOs, and supports online multiplayer between players on different gaming devices, allowing cross-platform play between players in the same game.

Users will not have to pay...

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Erazer X700 extreme gaming PC offers one-click overclocking

The Lenovo Erazer X700, an extreme performance gaming PC, was announced by electronics company Lenovo yesterday during this year's 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show.

The desktop PC is designed to run intensive multimedia applications and includes a OneKey Overclocking feature to simplify the overclocking process, allowing users to modify the system's processor at the click of a button while preventing the PC from overheating using a liquid cooling system.

The PC includes 32GB of memory, dual graphics support up to two Nvidia GeForce GTX660 chips or ATI CrossFireX, or up to...

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Sphero gets new augmented reality games at CES

Sphero, a smart robot inside an opaque ball, is receiving a slew of new augmented reality video game apps that will roll out over the course of 2013, developer Orbotix announced today.

Sphero is a robotic ball and gaming system controlled by smartphones. Players can control the ball with their mobile device (Sphero is iOS and Android compatible) for games in the real-world, or the robotic ball can be used as part of augmented reality games whereby video game characters are "placed" into the real world using the Sphero as a marker.

Over the next few months Orbotix will release the follow...

Nvidia unveils Project Shield, an Android-based gaming system powered by Tegra 4

Nvidia plans to release its own dedicated game console dubbed Project Shield. The "pure Android" device was announced at the chipmaker's CES 2013 press conference and was announced using a real-time tech demo built in Unreal Engine 4, running on Nvidia's new Tegra 4 chip.

Project Shield is built into a "console-grade game controller," according to Nvidia, and boasts a 5-inch, 720p "retinal" multitouch display with 294dpi.

The handheld gaming device — which appears to be slightly larger than an Xbox 360 controller — is also capable of outputting 4K resolution over HDMI, which Nvidia...

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Tegra 4 officially announced, shown running Dead Trigger 2 and Unreal Engine 4

Nvidia officially revealed its next-generation mobile processor, Tegra 4, for mobile phones, tablets and notebooks at its pre-CES press conference.

According to Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, the Tegra 4 will boast 72 GPUs and a quad-core A15, ARM's new CPU architecture.

Huang later showed a previously unseen game, Madfinger's Dead Trigger 2, running on the new processor, as well as a tech demo running Epic Games' Unreal Engine 4.

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Nvidia unveils Nvidia GRID, its new cloud-based gaming hardware

Nvidia is getting serious about its streaming, cloud-based gaming business with the Nvidia GRID, the company's "fully integrated system product" designed and optimized to stream video game graphics through the internet.

At CES 2013, Nvidia CEO and founder Jen-Hsun Huang showed Nvidia GRID in action, streaming the game Trine 2 from the cloud to multiple devices, including a dedicated PC and an Android-based tablet.

Nvidia's new hardware, similar to offerings from cloud-based streaming services like OnLive, is "packed full of GPUs," according to Huang. Each individual Nvidia GRID server,...

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Trials Evolution developer behind three games designed exclusively for Lenovo's IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC

Redlynx, the Ubisoft studio best known for its work on Trials Evolution, is teaming up with Lenovo to create three games exclusively for the IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC, a 27-inch widescreen all-in-one desktop machine.

The family friendly games — DrawRace2: Racing Evolved (multi-touch, multi-user racing game), King of Opera (a social game) and Raiding Company (a dual-stick shooter) — will come pre-loaded on the Horizon Table PC and will be offered exclusively for free on the device.

The Horizon Table PC is being shown at CES this week and boasts a 27-inch, 1080p 10-finger touchscreen...

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Roccat reveals mechanical gaming keyboard in time for CES 2013

Just before the 2013 Consumer Electonics Show, Roccat Studios has unveiled their latest project: the Ryos MK Pro mechanical gaming keyboard, which allows for customization on every key.

The Ryos MK Pro includes a 32-bit ARM Cortex processor and 2MB of flash memory. Users can program their boards to illuminate key bindings, macro sequences and much more in four different colors; the board can even be set to track health and mana bars through lit keys. Secondary functions can be assigned to almost every key on the board to suit different games.

Roccat is expected to showcase the mechanical...

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