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Arts & Entertainment

E3 2015: Augmented reality Minecraft, 'prosumers' and a new 'Star Wars' game

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 15:  EA DICE introduces
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 15: EA DICE introduces "Star Wars Battlefront" during the Sony E3 press conference at the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena on June 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Sony press conference is held in conjunction with the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which focuses on gaming systems and interactive entertainment, featuring introductions to new products and technologies. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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We talk a lot about movie blockbusters on this show — there’s a new one with some big dinosaurs in theaters, if you didn’t hear. But video games are an even bigger part of leisure time spending, and it’s a business that’s drawing a lot of dollars from other forms of entertainment.

One estimate predicts that global video game sales will exceed $110 billion this year. Global box office business this year should be around $37 billion, and that’s a third of video game revenues.

This week in downtown Los Angeles, thousands of video game developers are gathering for the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo — or E3, as it’s known. Gamers are eagerly awaiting the latest news from developers like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, and to find out how the industry plans to embrace virtual reality hardware.

Sarah Needleman covers the videogame industry for the Wall Street Journal and spoke with the Frame’s John Horn.

Interview Highlights 

How big is E3 and who’s there?

“It’s massive, and pretty much every game company you can think of is here. Particularly consoles... but there’s also a really big section devoted to mobile and online gaming this year. And of course, the big one that everyone cares about the most: virtual reality."

Is there any sense of what direction the companies that are creating content for virtual reality are going?

“It’s a little too early for that, to know exactly what types of games. There have been a number of demos that we’ve seen. They’re a lot like experiences you would get at a theme park... almost like a ride. But we don’t really know a lot of the details on what games are going to come out.”

What game are you looking forward to?

"I would like to check out that Star Wars game...

"Certainly 'Halo,' and if I could see that 'Minecraft' demo that they did with the HoloLens up close, that would certainly be a nice perk.”

What is HoloLens?

“HoloLens is augmented reality, which is a little different than virtual reality... It’s using hologram technology, which is something that’s a 360 degree immersive experience. But it’s different, and it’s really something you kind of have to see for yourself.”

How many people will be attending?

“We’re talking about 50,000 people at E3. And this year they’re bringing in about 5,000 ‘prosumers.’ And if you’re wondering what a prosumer is, you should be, because it’s a made-up word. It’s really a combination of "professional" and "consumer." And these are people who have significant social media followings and they’ve been invited by ESA — which is the governing body of E3 — to come and really spread the word about what’s going on here on their social media channels. And they have a lot of influence on other consumers, so their voices really matter a lot. In fact, some people might argue that their voices matter more than that of journalists like myself.”

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