Frequent readers of the Semico Spin know that I am a fan of this convention and attend it during my family vacation. This is the fourth year in a row if I remember correctly which we attended. As I say every year, there were more geeks than you can shake a light saber at.
For those unfamiliar with ComicCon (www.comic-con.org) it is the largest convention for comic books in the world. However, it covers a great deal more. Science fiction and fantasy TV and movies are heavily represented. These are usually tied in with comics and animation. There is also a strong tie in with video games. Attendance reached 125,000 on Saturday – the first sellout in the convention’s history. It is the largest convention through out the year for the city of
Before going into more details about ComicCon 2007, some observations on “digital living” so to speak. When I go on vacation I cannot seem to take the analyst hat off completely. I don’t just lie on the beach and veg out – at least not always. It seems just a few years ago that internet connectivity, especially wireless, was a big deal. Now it has become relatively standard. It is pretty much expected not only in cafes but in summer rentals. I am no longer amazed at seeing people walking or jogging along the beach with iPods.
But there is always something new that catches my eye. One interesting sight was the family under the beach canopy. Among them was an Eastern Orthodox priest in full black cassock reading his PDA. I wonder if he had downloaded translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls that are on display at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Another was the surfer zipping up his wet suit and adjusting his water proof iPod before diving in.
Later, while reading the latest copy of Wired magazine, there is an article about waterproof cases for iPods. This latest issue has on the front cover, of all people, Martha Stewart. She was displaying a cake made to look like the Wii game console. However, when I read the recipe for the Wii cake, they had to leave out the baking powder so it could be denser. Also, it is full of straws to give it structural stability. It is basically inedible. So sad… so sad. You can not have your Wii cake and eat it too.
And one more thing before ComicCon. In a hotel elevator I saw a flat panel. Instead of the billboard behind plexi-glass, hotel information was displayed on the flat panel and changing continuously. Small windows with news headlines from MSNBC were also displayed. The company providing this service is Televator (www.televator.net).
No, I did NOT go in costume, though there were plenty of interesting sights. There were the usual Star Wars storm troopers of various types, including the Elvis storm trooper. At ComicCon one sees the rich source material for new entertainment. This is very important for the video game market. The fans of the sci-fi/comic genre want cutting edge graphics and special effects. They represent a key segment of the video game market. ComicCon is a venue for previewing many new upcoming games for the holiday season.
I can always count on my 17-year old son for in-depth research. He spent the entire time in the video game area just like every other year. Last year Sony and Nintendo were quite prominent with their handheld games. The consoles were not released and so there were no demos. Also, last year Microsoft had a large area for the XBox 360.
This year the consoles were not as prominent. To be sure the XBox 360 and Wii were present, but distributed and embedded within the demos for the companies promoting game titles. Clearly at ComicCon 2007 the content was king, not necessarily the hardware. Capcom’s booth was an arena hosting tournaments played on the PS2, PS3, and XBox360. Konami also had a large booth featuring games for Nintendo’s Wii and DS and Sony PSP. Various other game vendors had demos for all of the consoles and gaming handhelds.
Sony made its presence felt in several areas. It had a Playstation area. The PSP was featured here. There were about a dozen stations for the PS3. However, the PS2 was quite prominent with about a half dozen stations of its own. Games are still being developed for this venerable game box. The recent sales figures from Sony indicate there is still strong demand for the PS2. Ironically, shipments for PS3 and PSP have been weaker than expected.
The game consoles are not the only reason Sony was at ComicCon. Next to the Playstation area Sony featured Blu-Ray DVD players on several screens. Sony was showing off Blu-Ray DVDs of classic Sci-Fi films. In another large booth Sony Pictures Entertainment Movie Studio was displaying upcoming films and animated series. Next to this was Sony Pictures Imageworks & Sony Online Entertainment. At this booth Sony featured its “Entertainment on the Move” and “Gaming on the Move”. Various films, mobisodes and games for cell phones were displayed. The handsets were from Nokia and Sony Ericsson.
The PSP, PS 2 and PS3 with Blu-Ray should not be viewed as stand alone products. Rather these fit into a broader corporate strategy for Sony. These devices are a way for Sony to tap its portfolio of movie and music titles.
I knew where to find my son most of the time – at the Maximum PC booth. Several PC games on Alienware platforms were featured. There were other PC games featured around the exhibit floor, most notably World of Warcraft. At the Maximum PC booth there were tie-ins with hardware vendors such as Pioneer Memory, Sapphire, and Ageia with its PhysX based board. My son actually won an ATI 2600 graphics card. Intel was featuring its dual core extreme MPUs in the PCs. The PC gamers, my son included, were salivating over Intel’s announcement of its upcoming quad core extreme MPU. Unfortunately there were no systems featuring quad core.
Based on what I saw at ComicCon 2007 this coming holiday season should see healthy activity for the video game market and consumer electronics in general. The driving force will be content – new game titles and films.