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Gaming: Switch targets console crown; Army gets real with HUD tech; TES Blades delayed

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Nov 29, 2018, 8:45 PM EST (Updated)

The Nintendo Switch has been a phenomenal seller, flying off shelves at a pace just beneath that of the legendary Wii, a console that transcended gaming to enter the wider pop culture mainstream. But until now, the Switch’s record-challenging sales have been competitive mainly with Nintendo’s own track record — and not with that of console competitors Xbox One and, more distantly, the mighty PlayStation 4.

That may be changing in the coming months, if sales forecasts are correct. Consulting firm Strategy Analytics predicts that the Switch is on track to actually surpass the PS4 in sales sometime next year, as the Switch enters only its third year on the market while the PS4 grows long in the tooth.

As projected by the firm’s new Global Game Console Market Forecast, “Nintendo will sell 17.3 million Switch consoles worldwide in 2019, while Sony will sell 17.1 million PS4 and PS4 Pro consoles. Microsoft will remain in third place, selling 10.0 million Xbox One and Xbox One X devices.”

If Nintendo does arrive at the top of the console market, it’ll be the first time it's looked down on everyone else since 2009 — when the Wii was in its heyday. And while retaking the sales throne attests to the Switch’s overall appeal, Nintendo still would have a long way to go to catch the overall sales success of the PS4. “Sony is still the market leader in terms of consoles in use; it accounts for nearly half of all video games consoles in use, and 84% of these are now PS4 or PS4 Pro devices,” the report reminds us.

Don’t get visions of Iron Man HUD screens or Metroid-style visor displays in your head just yet, but the Army is getting set to augment its real-world fighting toolkit by entering the quasi-gaming world of augmented reality (AR). reports that Microsoft will partner with the U.S. military to deliver AR headgear that “can overlay a HUD with various features to assist soldiers in combat, such as remote viewing of weapon sights, thermal and night vision, physical assessment of the wearer (including heartrate, concussion detection, and breathing rate).”

That means AR could soon exit the training realm and find a place on actual battlefields. Microsoft’s reported $480 million contract to deliver the HUD visors and goggles is framed, according to the report, as filling “an operational need for the Army’s 'Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program, which will see the development of prototype Hololens devices that will improve soldiers' ‘lethality, mobility, and situational awareness’” in the field.

The goal is to end up with a finished, battlefield-ready headset by late 2020, meaning it won’t be long before at least some soldiers could be sporting visor tech that even Samus Aran might envy.

Remember Blades, the Elder Scrolls mobile game that looked tantalizingly similar to the full console experience back when Bethesda first announced it at this year's E3?

Well, nothing’s changed about Blades’ potential to nicely adapt the storied fantasy RPG franchise for the mobile gaming crowd, and the game still appears to be on track. But Bethesda revealed today via Twitter that Blades won’t be coming out in 2018, as originally promised. Instead, we’ll have to wait until the calendar flips.

Extended development times are common in the world of gaming, and a delay that’s only months long, instead of years, isn’t likely to frustrate many gamers already accustomed to much, much longer waits — especially if Bethesda manages to deliver a polished game. While there's still no firm release date, at least we can expect to get our hands on Blades for iOS and Android sometime in early 2019.