CES 2011's Gaming Showcase Preview

Nintendo returns after 16-year absence; Microsoft pushes Kinect of Xbox; Sony brings 'MLB11: The Show.'

LAS VEGAS -- More than 140,000 people are expected to make the annual trek to Las Vegas this week for the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show. The world's largest consumer technology trade show will feature the hottest innovations in gaming hardware, peripherals and software, along with new TVs, PCs, smartphones and tablet devices that will play games.

The Consumer Electronics Assn. estimates that U.S. sales of video games, consumer electronics and gadgets will top $182 billion this year. Research firm Gartner predicts that tablet sales alone will top 60 million this year, thanks in part to strong sales from Apple's iPad and the upcoming iPad 2, as well as the many competing devices from companies like HP, Vizio, Samsung and Motorola.

"I think that more publishers will start to use smartphones and tablets to keep gaming alive in between sessions, so you can, for example, hit a bucket of balls on your smart phone in Tiger Woods PGA TOUR Golf, and it will improve your stroke when you play the game on the console," said Michael Pachter, video game analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities. "It's surprising to me that nobody has figured out how to link all of this together yet, and I think that Microsoft would be really smart to tie the Windows 7 phones into Xbox Live more effectively."

Even though gaming gets its own big showcases at E3 in Los Angeles, GamesCom in Germany and Tokyo Game Show in Japan, video games are everywhere at CES. More than 35 exhibitors are displaying the latest gaming technology advancements in the 2011 CES Gaming Showcase. Exhibitors are presenting their products across 9,800 square feet within the Gaming Showcase. Located in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Gaming Showcase features advancements in online gaming and gaming-related product debuts in both hardware and software -- from online PC and HD gaming, plasma HDTV to surround sound and power conditioning hardware.

Major gaming exhibitors include AMD, HP, Intel, Lenovo, LevelUp, Logitech, Microsoft, Nintendo, Nokia, PDP and Sony Computer Entertainment. Publishers and developers are also in attendance, including Alcazar Entertainment, Cosmi, Sony Online Entertainment and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Furthermore, key retailers like Amazon.com, Best Buy and GameStop will be at the big show.

Sony is showcasing a lineup of new games, including MLB 11: The Show, Killzone 3 and Dead Nation, while Microsoft has Kinect for Xbox 360 games on display. Both companies have had early success with PlayStation Move and Kinect motion-sensor controlled games, which is opening up a larger audience to gaming and they both have new experiences coming out this year that will better utilize this hardware.

"Kinect adds to the creative palette developers can use to build fun experiences because players can interact with the television using their body and voice," said Kudo Tsunoda, creative director at Kinect for Xbox 360. "With Kinect, players do what comes naturally. This allows developers to create experiences that have always been in their minds but could not be done before."

Nintendo, which hasn't had a presence at CES in 16 years, is showing off its autostereo (glasses free) Nintendo 3DS in the Hilton off the show floor. Other game companies like accessories maker Nyko and MadCatz, game publisher Capcom and gaming PC manufacturers Origin and Maingear are also set up around the Vegas strip.

Game publishers THQ and Trion Worlds are showing off key games at the SyFy area inside the NBC Universal booth. As more transmedia game franchises are created, SyFy has become more involved in releasing TV programming to complement games like THQ's Homefront and Red Faction.