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E3 2014 recap

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Downtown has been abuzz with activity as hardcore gamers, coders, developers and videogame makers big and small converged on the Los Angeles Convention Center Tuesday through Thursday for the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Nearly 50,000 people from more than 100 countries attended what’s considered the world’s premier trade show for computer and videogames. In each of 2013 and 2014, the popular expo brought in an estimated $40 million in revenue for the city.

Events like E3 are strong drivers of the fast-expanding LA startup scene that has its roots in technology and entertainment. Mayor Eric Garcetti, a self-described tech nerd and a strong supporter of the local tech and startup ecosystems, echoed this sentiment in the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday: Los Angeles is not just the creative capital of the world, but also the center of the video-gaming industry.” In fact, many major industry players have headquarters or division offices in the city, including Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Microsoft Xbox and Sony.

Los Angeles also has a strong representation from small gaming companies and startups, especially in Orange County. Of note is Orange County’s Oculus VR, a virtual reality device company acquired by Facebook last month. And only a few years ago, major Chinese internet company Tencent bought a majority stake in then Santa Monica-based Riot Games.

None of the major companies released new hardware this year – that was last year – so their news, announcements and releases centered on more appealing software and systems. Also, E3 producer Entertainment Software Association announced next year’s event will be held June 16 to 18, back at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Other news and notes from the event:

  • Despite a year of losses for the Nintendo Wii U, the company says Mario Kart 8 had a significant impact on Wii U sales.
  • Nintendo introduces a tablet feature for Wii U to build custom Mario characters.
  • Sony’s PlayStation Now, a Netflix-like streaming videogame service, will launch at the end of July.
  • Orange County-based Oculus VR showed off games made with the soon-available $350 Oculus Rift development kit (DK2).
  • Los Angeles-based virtual reality game company Control VR presented its virtual gear that puts a player's entire upper body into the game (not just vision via headset).
  • Nintendo says the new Legend of Zelda game for Wii U will be the first game in the franchise to feature an “open world.”
  • Microsoft resigned with Activision for its next Call of Duty game.
  • Ubisoft says Assassin’s Creed: Unity, which is being developed for Xbox One and PS4, has a new focus on cooperative multiplayer action.
  • Microsoft dedicated to its Halo brand: Halo 5 Guardians for Xbox One was announced, Halo: The Master Chief collection was announced, Halo 5 Guardians multiplayer beta will be available in December, and a Halo Nightfall TV series will premier in November.
  • Orange County-based Ready at Dawn presented its still-in-development game The Order: 1886, which will be available on PS4 in February.
  • Developer Crystal Dynamics revealed a new Lara Croft title, Rise of the Tomb Rider that will be released in 2015 on Xbox platforms
  • Tired of waiting for Valve’s release of its Steam Machine OS and controller, Alienware announced its own system, Alienware Alpha, which will be available later this year for $550. Alienware's product will come with an Xbox 360 controller and Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system—not SteamOS.
  • Microsoft announced it’d be releasing a version of its Xbox One without Kinect.
  • Culver City-based gaming startup Riot Games, which develops the popular League of Legends, is absent from the trade show for a second year, claiming that its more than 27 million daily users don't correspond with the demographic that visits E3.
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