CES, the World’s Gaming Showcase

Overview Tetris. Xbox. Atari. Nintendo. Oculus. They all debuted at CES. Since 1975, the biggest news in the world of gaming has been broken at CES. As the industry evolves through innumerable technical innovations, consumers are learning, healing, playing and profiting from gaming feats of creativity and technical acumen first unveiled at CES.

Over the last half century, gaming has gone from rudimentary, one-dimensional challenges on now antiquated devices to 3D, virtual reality and multi-sensory experiences accessible from practically anywhere, anytime. Gaming now crosses into the worlds of Web3 and metaverse to digital health, smart cities and smart homes for training, testing and other purposes. The sector today knows very few limits. And it has found its full expression at CES.
For decades, the world’s gaming behemoths have come to CES to debut their latest products and platforms, and to collaborate and compare. For a look at how the gaming industry grew up at the show, CTA member Apple cites CES in the original Apple TV+ movie, Tetris. From the first scenes of the film, which opened March 31, video game designer Henk Rogers tells of discovering Tetris at CES. The all-time bestselling game, created in 1984 by Alexey Pajitnov, leapt onto the world stage at CES in 1988.
That wasn’t the first, or final, gaming milestone marked at CES. Triumphant launches began in 1975 and kept going at CES.

1975 and 1979 – Atari’s Pong Home Console, Atari 400 and 800 PCs

The table tennis-themed video game Pong debuted as an arcade game in the early-1970s. In 1975, Atari revealed a version of the wildly popular game, now playable in living rooms with one of the first at-home video game consoles. It was a blockbuster with a long waiting list. Then, in 1979, Atari 400 and 800 PCs fueled the explosion of home gaming.  These were the first devices with custom processing that afforded higher sound and gaming capabilities.

1982 – Commodore 64

The 8-bit Commodore 64, an original in-home computing device, debuted at CES and ultimately racked up sales exceeding $20 million, a feat attributed to a price tag under $600 and its easy adaptability for playing video games.

1985 – Nintendo NES

At CES 1985, Nintendo unveiled an early version of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) that became the best-selling video game console at that time, selling more than 60 million units.

1988 – Tetris

The legendary game met wide U.S. audiences first at CES where it was unveiled by Spectrum Holobyte. From there, the game became available on nearly every major platform of the time, including Nintendo’s Gameboy. Today, industry experts consider it to be the best-selling video game of all time.

2001 – Microsoft Xbox

This first-of-its-kind gaming console made its first appearance at CES, where Bill Gates was joined by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in a packed keynote. The console’s sales exceeded 24 million units in five years.

2013 – Oculus Rift

This must-have PC-powered headset for VR gaming blew audiences and media away when it was showcased at CES. As has been documented widely, the creators of Oculus Rift began with a Kickstarter campaign to fund production, then sold the operation to Facebook a year later for more than $2 million.
For nearly 50 years, CES has served as the leading venue for the latest and greatest in all things gaming. The 1993 event was the first time CES put a hard focus on PCs, games and information tech, versus TVs and stereos. The industry hasn’t been the same since.
As CTA has reported, the gaming industry engages 164 million users in the U.S. alone, crossing virtually every social demographic. It’s big business driven by ingenious tech that makes experiences deeply immersive, highly accessible and very customizable. Its appeal is extending to new user communities and influencing other industry sectors. Beyond entertainment, gaming now shapes how we interact across a variety of industries fully realized at CES. This is where gaming visionaries discover technologies and applications that reach into digital health, sports tech, smart cities, metaverse and more.
Find out what trends are moving forward fastest at CES. Visit our Gaming and Esports page for a look at the industry, and to watch sessions from CES 2023 on demand. Looking to boost your gaming business? CES 2024 is your ticket to success. Connect with funders, partners, suppliers and purchasers that can help you grow. Contact to get started.

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