Google unveiled its Nexus Tablet 7 at its I/O 2012 developer's conference event, as analysts and critics predicted. The device boasted a host of alluring new features such as the latest version of Android's operating system, Jelly Bean. But underneath the sleek build and smooth software lies what could represent a turning point in the gaming industry.
Google's Nexus Tablet 7 will include the Tegra 3 chip set with a quad-core processor and a 12-core GPU. This means the new 7-inch mobile device, which is the just about the size and weight of a small paperback book, will be able to support graphics similar to that of the PlayStation Vita or a standard console. Combine that with its role as a multimedia content consumption device, and there could be an impending threat for next-generation consoles.
As part of its keynote, the Google team showcased two mobile games that will be available in the Google Play store. Phosphor Games' Horn is a sandbox-like action/RPG game that puts a darker spin on the type of combat found in mobile titles such as iOS' Infinity Blade. The stunning visuals and extensive exploration could easily have viewers fooled into thinking they're playing a second-generation PlayStation at the very least. The case is similar with Dead Trigger, a zombie-shooter that will also be introduced for the platform.
The Nexus 7 Tablet certainly demonstrates the blurring border between mobile gaming devices and tablets. But the question arises as to whether this presents competition for the coming Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo consoles. The overarching theme at E3 2012 was the integration of gaming, mobile apps and social features, with each of the Big Three manufacturers striving to make their gaming system the center of living rooms around the globe.
Nintendo bragged about its Wii U GamePad controller, a tablet-like remote that allows players to participate in the same game through different roles simultaneously. Sony emphasized the collaboration between its PS Vita and PlayStation 3 consoles, introducing new cross-compatibility features allowing one to complement the other. And Microsoft unveiled SmartGlass, which is an app that links an Xbox 360 console to mobile devices. Each keynote at E3 also touted increasing the social aspect of consoles, such as the revamped MiiVerse for the Wii U, and multimedia streaming apps.
The question is, if these companies are looking to expand into media and entertainment fields outside of the gaming realm, what's stopping the opposite from happening?
It will always be a challenge to get hardcore gamers to ditch their consoles to fully commit to tablets. As impressive as these devices may be, video game lovers will not put down their controllers and transition to playing in-depth games on smaller screens. But the solution to this question may not be as far off as some imagine.
The tablet's HDMI output means that you may be able to replace your PS3 or Xbox 360 by hooking the slate up directly to your TV, writes Chris Davies of Slash Gear.
This would create a handheld gaming device that players could hook up to a television screen whenever they wish.
A report from New Scientist that was published recently forecasts that this next-generation of gaming consoles may be the last. According to the publication, current PC graphics cards are already 24 times more powerful than those found in Xbox 360 consoles. Although gameplay is ultimately about the entire experience rather than just the graphics, some developers agree that the console's days may be numbered.
Look, consoles are going away, David Jaffee, creator of God of War and Twisted Metal, told GI International. I think in 10 years, probably sooner, but 10 years is always the safe thing to say so you don't sound like an idiot -- but here's what I'll say. I'll go on the record and say that the next generation of hardware will be the last consoles. And they should be.
The Google Nexus Tablet 7 will be available starting mid-July at $199, but can be pre-ordered on the Google Play store now.